by Deborah Wuehler, Senior Editor, The Old Schoolhouse
When you think of “back to school” what comes to mind? The smell of new books, new crayons, or new fear? Perhaps you are re-evaluating your homeschool decision because of concerns you have? In my early years of homeschooling, I had the same concerns. Time has borne out the answers, and God has never left our homeschool abandoned. Where God may not be allowed in other classroom settings, He permeates our homeschool halls. And as our Guidance Counselor, He makes sure our “back-to-school” story is successful.
1. Will I Be Successful?
Success is often our first concern. Homeschooling seems a lot to ask and a lot more to accomplish. Let’s look at what has not been successful. According to the US Census Bureau, the government-run education system pours $10,000–20,000 into every student every year.1 We know their success rate has plummeted dismally. Conversely, homeschooling families spend exponentially less money per child per year and continue to climb in academic excellence.2
God’s way brings success. When God’s law is put into action, and God’s words are permeating our hearts and minds, we will have success (Joshua 1; Psalm 1). Success starts as an act of faith. It is putting your full trust in Him who knows no defeat.
2. Who Does This?
The demographics of homeschoolers have changed, especially this last year. Homeschooling has become a broad and popular choice among those concerned with child health and safety. Many minority and underserved communities and families with special needs children are homeschooling with great success. Many have concerns about the environment in schools and the political propaganda served as academics. There is rising diversity among homeschoolers, “from progressive unschoolers to conservative Christians.”3 And, you certainly won’t have the “backwoods” stigma that has tried to follow homeschoolers.
3. What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
Plainly speaking, you have gotten yourself into the best educational option. Across the board, homeschoolers excel in every way. Be sure to check the research.4 You have now moved your children up, not only in academics, but in freedom. They are now free to explore their world, interests, and skills. It really is a win for your child.
It can still be overwhelming looking down that long road of homeschooling when your vantage point is the starting line. One of the first things to do is establish your thoughts and make some goals. Perhaps you’re wondering about curriculum, or how to schedule it all on top of regular household duties?
4. What’s the Best Way to Homeschool?
Your family is unique—you will be different from all others in your approach, goals, and convictions. As you find out what works in your household, your personal style will begin to emerge. There is no “one size fits all” in homeschooling—no singular “right” way to provide an education for your children. There are as many varied methods as there are families who homeschool. We all do what it takes for our children to learn and grow. Academically speaking, “Research provides insight into innovation within the homeschooling and broader school communities, showcasing a willingness to mix modalities and methods in order to achieve educational objectives.”5
You will most likely homeschool around your values and viewpoints (your “philosophy”) of education and make goals for each child. For example, if you have a second grader who is not reading yet, your goal may be to teach that child to read. How you do that depends on the curriculum, the learning style of the child, and the resources available. Will you use a book or will you make your own flash cards? If they are coming home from public school, they may be used to a workbook. When you have a plan, then you can begin looking at how to accomplish that plan.
5. Will My Kids Like it?
Does your child learn better by seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), or doing (kinesthetic)? When you find things that excite their senses, it will enhance their ability to learn. They will love the freedom to sleep in or read from the comfort of the couch. They will love that schoolwork only takes a couple of hours, and then they can do other things they enjoy. They will love the freedom from many pressures and expectations and fears (see Freedom: It’s Why We Homeschool! bit.ly/3vcdTOz).
6. What About Curriculum?
Pray for God to provide the wisdom and resources necessary. If your children are very young, you will only need a few good resources. They will need to learn to read, write, and do math. Then you will add in history, sciences, arts instruction, and fun field trips. The goal is to read well, write well, and think well—and show progress each year. There are many product and curriculum reviews at www.theoldschoolhouse.com/product-reviews.
7. What About Everything I Do at Home Already?
I work from home full time and homeschool full time. You will eventually find your rhythm and schedule. Organization and simplicity are key. Teach your children to help with chores. Plan for a little mess to pile up occasionally, and then plan to clean it up together. It’s all part of the learning process.
8. What If I Need Help?
A few like-minded friends or a support group will answer your questions and offer encouragement. Check with Home School Legal Defense Association for legalities in your state (www.hslda.org) and many other homeschool topics. Stay in tune to the homeschooling community through social media, conventions, and support groups.
CHEA Editor’s Note: CHEA of California offers many free resources specifically created to support families who home educate in California. We also offer a Homeschool Directory for those looking for local homeschool groups to get connected with.
9. What About My Personal Needs?
You need to be active in the Word of God until you are overflowing with His joy and confidence. Times of refreshing come from being in His presence, being in His will, and realizing all of your needs are met in Him. And whenever necessary, it’s okay to take a break to meet any pressing needs.
10. What About My Weaknesses?
I have learned that God’s grace will be sufficient for any weakness you perceive. He delights to order your steps. So, step out in faith down the homeschooling road and keep your eyes on the Author and Finisher. The journey will be worth every effort as you see your children flourish and find real faith as they are Home. Where They Belong.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).
1. United States Census Bureau, U.S. School System Spending Per Pupil by Region https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2020/comm/school-system-spending.html
2. National Home Education Research Institute, Brian Ray, PhD., Research Facts on Homeschooling, https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/
3. Taylor & Francis Online, The Peabody Journal of Education, volume 94, 2019, Issue 3, New Frontiers in Research and Practice on Homeschooling, Albert Chang & Michael Donnelly, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0161956X.2019.1617576, accessed April 22, 2021.
4. Research Facts on Homeschooling, https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on homeschooling
5. Taylor & Francis Online, The Peabody Journal of Education, volume 94, 2019, Issue 3, New Frontiers in Research and Practice on Homeschooling, Albert Chang & Michael Donnelly
Deborah Wuehler is Senior Editor for TOS, wife to Richard, and has eight children ages 13 to 30. She writes for The Homeschool Minute (www.TheHomeschoolMinute.com) and appears on You Tube with Schoolhouse Devotions (bit.ly/2MrF8Sn), helping to point homeschool families to Christ as they keep their children Home. Where They Belong! You can contact Deb at dwuehler@TheOldSchoolhouse.com.
Copyright 2021, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2021 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.