Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why do we Home School? And How Did We Start?

This question comes up occassionally.  And wow is it tough to answer short and sweet.  I doubt there is a simple, one-sentence answer for most families.  And it seems the longer we homeschool, the more reasons I have to continue.

Let me start with how.  How did we start?  

I researched. I looked at curriciulums.  I read books.  I planned.  But in the end, I just had to START!  That is the most important step - just start.  If you choose the wrong curriculum, you can change.  If you don't have the right materials for your child, you can change.  Sometimes you have to actually start before you can figure out exactly how this will work for your family.  Our homeschool has grown and evolved through practice, grace, and prayer.

Google your local area for homeschool conferences.  I am thankful for our local Midwest Parent Educators group.  They host a conference in Kansas City every year.  Families can attend workshops, find mentors, and browse homeschool curriculum materials.  It can be overwhelming at first, but I loved being able to flip through the top curriculums on my list.

Why did we start?  

We were called to do so.  When my first child was born, I just couldn't even imaging handing her over to someone else to be educated.  She was our blessing and I wanted her at home.  I enjoy watching her learn and grow.  I enjoy learning and growing along side her.  I wanted to give her a thorough, customized, individualized, Biblically-based education.  I looked deeper into public school and researched the best local private schools, but what I envisioned for her could only happen at home.  I wanted to be able to read all day on those rainy days when that's what seemed best.  I wanted to get outside for all-day science experiments on the most beautiful days.  Homeschooling isn't something (most people) just wake up and decide to do.  It's a conviction, a calling, a committment.  It's something for which we changed our life.  

As I type this out, it's 2:30 in the afternoon and we have yet to "do school" today (in the traditional sense of that phrase.) But what we have done is:
make breakfast and lunch together, plant 6 different kinds of seeds, learned about and built an aeroponic garden, wrote a report about that aeroponic garden, built two large forts, and everyone has composed their own short story.  As soon as they complete that second fort, we will all snuggle in that fort with a snack while I will read history and literature and help the youngest two finish their math.  This is not our typical day, as many days do resemble a more traditional school.  And it's not everyday you get to build an aeroponic garden! But rainy days, like today, might look just like this.  

How do you choose a curriculum?

That's a big question.  There are many great choices available these days and many curriculums even use very similar literature, math, and science.  But perhaps the teacher's manuals, the schedule, or arrangement is laid out differently.  And then!  Well then there is unschooling or pulling your own curriculum together.  One method isn't necessarily better than the other, but one method is very likely better for YOUR FAMILY than another.  Here are a few of my favorite books on homeschooling that might help you in your research.  

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum  Cathy Duffy's book gives a nice general view over all different forms of homeschooling.  This book will take you through a questionaire to help you find your preferences and strengths.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning  If you are interested in incorporating more nature, exploration, literature and flexible scheduling, you might enjoy this book.  I did so love this book.

The HSLDA website is also a good place for information on state regulations.

After combing through curriculum reviews and choices, we chose My Father's World curriculum for our home.  My Father's World meets the key points in my reasons for homeschooling.  And it meets and exceeds the requirements for university acceptance at all the universities I checked. It is flexible, Biblically based, partly classical, partly Charlotte Mason, and thorough.  And they have excellent customer service.

As more children have been added to our family, each with their own personalities, likes and dislikes, our reasons for homeschooling have only grown.  We used to say that we were only homeschooling for now, or taking one year at a time, or that we would continue to do so as long as it worked.  After 6 years, I can't imagine it NOT working for our family.  It's a blessing - a little bit of magic that happens right in front of us on a daily basis.


  1. You are a very talented photographer. Wow!

    I enjoyed your post. It resonates with me as I plan to homeschool our oldest this fall. Thanks for your suggestions, especially to just START. I think I get too caught up in the planning and organizing and totally forget to just do it!

    I'm a new follower.


  2. I enjoyed your post! I live in SW Missouri and use MFW as well! Isn't it such a blessing to have a curriculum that has been put together with God as the primary focus?! I will be a new follower to your blog.

  3. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words Marissa and Keri. I'm excited to check out your blog, too.