by Shandee Childress, The Old Schoolhouse
There is no right or wrong way to teach your children at home. You choose your curriculum, your schedule, and the area where you teach. Having a homeschool haven creates a safe, enjoyable learning atmosphere for your family.
Discovering my family’s homeschool haven has been a method of trial and error. I have children from ages 3 to 19 and one in the womb. I currently teach preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. I asked the Lord to show me how to accomplish this. He has been faithful to show me creative ways and to provide resources to encourage me. My utmost desire to homeschool comes from Deuteronomy 11:19: “And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Our school day begins with life skills. We have rotating chores like breakfast day and laundry day that specific family members oversee daily. My high school students wake earlier and do independent work I have assigned them. Early morning is ideal for doing work that requires more concentration since the littles are still sleeping. As the morning progresses, Dad wakes the sleeping children and kisses them goodbye before leaving for work. Next, the children and I have breakfast, and I make morning announcements that include appointments or expected guests.
After breakfast, the children and I clean up, then get the littles dressed for the day. We move right on to the area that we have designated our school room, which has desks for each child. I begin with Bible study, and we also share our hearts. Since my oldest daughter has graduated, I see that this was the most important thing I could have done. Teaching children Scripture helps them know God’s Word and helps them be prepared to handle situations when they go to college or a job. God’s Word shapes character and creates the foundation for life. Scripture remains in a child’s heart throughout his or her life. I heavily lean on Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
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Our homeschool day shifts gears into academics after Bible time. I present a group study, which can get tricky because it’s hard to keep the attention of younger ones. I encourage them to stay in the room and participate as much as they desire for their learning level. It’s amazing what they absorb just by listening. After group study, we start independent work.
Entertaining the littles has been trying; therefore, I asked the Lord to show me how to accomplish homeschooling various age groups. A simple solution was to pair the littles with a helper. Each day, we have an assigned helper choose a fun activity to do with the littles for thirty minutes. One helper does a physical activity. Another does crafts with them, and another incorporates hands-on creative play. During this time, I work independently with the older ones, going over new material or helping a child who is struggling in a subject.
Our family has lunch in our dining area together. Sometimes we prepare it together, or sometimes one of the kids prepares lunch if she finishes her morning work early. It is precious to spend lunch time talking with the kids. Our afternoons are more relaxed. I incorporate time for the kids to do something quietly of their choice. The high school students use this time to work independently and concentrate on tougher subjects while my younger ones are less active. We finish the school day by regrouping in the school area with everyone turning in their independent work and marking off their to-do list in the app that Daddy created for us. I also use this time to assist with any issues with their work.
I have struggled with the demands of maintaining a home during my homeschooling adventure. How do clothes get clean for a family of eleven? How do meals get prepared? My husband and I had a meeting after our sixth child was born to strategize. We realized that things we did with a smaller number of children no longer worked. Together, with the Lord’s guidance, we came up with a plan on how to incorporate these tasks within our school day. Each day, we have assigned leaders for chores, such as laundry, breakfast, cleaning specific rooms, overseeing drinks at meal time, etc. I feel it’s important to address how our family accomplishes household tasks as well as academics.
First, seek the Lord, and He will give you insight. Second, remember to create a realistic schedule/routine. Realize there is no perfect family, so don’t compare yourself with others. God created your family to be unique for His plan and purpose, so delight in it! Third, find an enjoyable curriculum that fits with your family’s lifestyle. These three steps will help you create your homeschool haven. Don’t give up; press on. It’s worth it!
Shandee Childress, married 22 years, has homeschooled her eight children (soon to be nine) since preschool so she can teach them God’s Word. She is currently teaching preschool through eleventh grade, and her oldest daughter is in community college. Homeschooling has had challenges through high-risk pregnancies and C-sections, a near fatal accident with an infant, Shandee’s husband suffering from an accident with prolonged health conditions and hospital stays, and a child’s chronic illness. Throughout these life situations Shandee has leaned on Romans 5:3-5.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.