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Help for New Home Schoolers

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I still consider myself to be a new  home schooler even though this will be our fourth year of schooling our child at home. I have to admit that home schooling has been one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had. I never thought about home schooling in terms of being 'easy' and always gave a great deal of credit to families that home schooled their children from the beginning. However, I did head into home schooling with confidence, believing that I could teach my child successfully at home. I just didn't realize how many home schooling options were available nor did I anticipate how much time would be involved in setting up our home school and in creating a viable, workable plan for each school year.

In some ways, parents who choose to educate their children in Christian or public school, have it much easier. They do not need to choose the best curriculum for their children or the method of teaching, because the school principal or district has done this for them. But having the freedom to choose how to teach your children as well as the materials used is one of the biggest reasons many families choose to home school.

I think part of the problem too is in the hundred's of curriculum options available to home schoolers. While having a wide variety of curriculum to choose from can be a blessing, it can also be a curse, especially when your are just starting out. I know...I have been in the position of having to choose the 'perfect' curriculum for my child. Even though I consider myself to be pretty level-headed, I believed some classic home schooling myths which I think make easing into home schooling so much harder for me. Maybe you are under these same assumptions...if so...here are some myths that I found to be untrue!

1. Home schooling is easy

No way. It is incredibly time-consuming, difficult, challenging and often at times frustrating. It is not easy. It requires commitment, determination, compromise, and most of all lots of time to plan and schedule and then teach your children at home. It is not for the timid nor the undisciplined nor the faint-hearted.

2. Home schooling is Inexpensive

Not true. While there are economical ways to home school and sure you can always find good deals through used curriculum sales, libraries, the internet, and co-ops, the truth is that home schooling curriculum is expensive. Now it is not comparable to sending your child to a private school but it is not free nor is it inexpensive. Remember, the Bible promise: you will reap what you sow. If you sow sparingly, you will reap accordingly.

There are ways to conserve costs and ways to save $$$ by using used curriculum or online programs such as Ambleside Online (our choice). On average, we spend about $100 per child, per year. This is relatively inexpensive compared to packaged out-of-the-box curriculum or full-curriculum/grade programs that can run from $400-600 per child, per year.

3. Children can teach themselves

There are many proponents of the 'self-teaching method' who believe that children can teach themselves by simply giving them 'classic' books. While this is true in part, many of our nations founders did indeed teach themselves through reading good books. However, practical experience has shown me that children need guidance and direction when it comes to learning new things. Young children need mom or dad to explain new concepts to them and to show them how to add, read, draw, print, etc. Older children, age 10 and up, do learn most new information through reading. However, I do not know of very many 10 year olds that are responsible enough to 'teach' themselves.

Moreover, home schooling is a family-oriented activity. The reason why we choose to home school is because we desire to be home with our children and we want to participate with them as they learn new things.

4. If things don't work out as plan, I can always put my child back in...

I think that this is one of the worst excuses for poor home schooling I have ever heard. Children need consistency, not only in their expectations but also in the school books and methods. Pulling children out of public or Christian school and then putting them back in just because 'things' didn't work out, tells your children that schooling is not a priority to you. Remember that Bible promise: You will reap what you sow. If you sow a poor home school that is not consistently teaching nor expecting children to show up and learn, then you will reap the same rewards.

5. I have to find the 'perfect' curriculum...

Unfortunately, this is something I seem to struggle with the most. I have a desire in my heart for a curriculum that will perfectly match my child's unique skills and abilities. I cannot seem to find it and often I second-guess my choices, my arrangements, and my time. The truth is that there is no perfect curriculum and there is no perfect home school just like there is no perfect child nor perfect parent.

I have come to the understanding that my goal is to provide the 'best possible' curriculum for my child. However, I now know that this means that it is not going to be 100% on target all the time. I need to find the methods and programs that work best for us and then let God take care of the rest. You can become overly fixated on trying to make everything perfect and often miss out on the #1 reason we home school in the first place >> to spend quality time with our children.

**Next:  Getting Started

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