We’re currently in our fourth year of homeschooling and are loving every minute! As a somewhat seasoned homeschooler, I’m often asked the same questions by inquisitive mothers and potential homeschooling families. While I’m always happy to answer questions and explain my methods, I realize such a conversation can feel like sipping from a fire-hose! The following information is my attempt to distill an overwhelming amount of information into manageable, actionable steps to help new homeschoolers feel confident in this exciting journey!
What do you do? How did you know what to choose?
Classical. Charlotte Mason. Boxed curriculum. Co-ops. University model. Unschooling. Unit studies. (And on and on and on…)
If that list makes your head spin, take a deep breath and realize you don’t have to pick a path or subscribe to one single method from the get-go. This isn’t a head-first swan dive off a cliff, it’s a gentle wading into the ebb and flow of a lifestyle full of freedom!
Until you create your homeschooling vision, set individual goals for your children, and fully understand their personality types, ignore those catchphrases and philosophies!
How do I create a homeschooling vision?
I credit Pam Barnhill for walking me through this ultra-important step. Her podcasts, YouTube channel, and Plan Your Year book set me on a successful planning path. She gave me a list of important questions to consider; from those points to ponder I came up with the following…
BIG PICTURE VISION:
When my children are adults, I want them to look back on their homeschooling experience with joy. I want them to see it as a memorable adventure full of opportunities to learn real world skills that prepared them for life — not just college — and taught them how to be lifelong learners. As adults, I want Asher and Keane to be absolutely in love with God and have a passion for His work. I want them to value healthy foods, consistent exercise, time in nature, and to enjoy reading as a hobby. I want them to be creative thinkers with empowered imaginations! When they think of me as their homeschooling mom, I want them to know I loved them unconditionally, that I was always available and willing to listen. I want them to see me as an encourager who was full of grace, and whose passion for Christ was evident every day. I want them to feel they had more opportunities to experience the real world. I want them to be proud of their adventurous experiences and the educational journey they got to take alongside their parents.
That 30,000 foot vision helped me fine-tune our daily vision, which also led to creating individual goals for each of my children. Skipping these steps would be akin to a train setting off on a cross-country journey without any tracks. You’ll get nowhere fast!
In our homeschool we strive to engage in hands-on learning by playing games, having adventures, and spending time in nature every week. We will foster creativity and a love for reading through daily read-alouds, poetry tea times, and imaginative play. We will cultivate a life-giving home with peaceful Morning Time, where we focus on truth, goodness, and beauty through prayer, biblical affirmations, scripture, song, and purposeful memorization. We refuse to be tied to worksheets, workbooks, and following the crowd. We refuse to let a lesson bring us to tears or steal our joy.
Math: We will practice flash cards at least twice each week, do Right Start Math lessons twice each week, and play two math games each week.
Content Subjects: We will do weekly science lessons using The Good and the Beautiful’s Botany study; weekly history lessons with The Story of the World and The Peaceful Press; weekly art lessons with Masterpiece Society, trips to the Kimbell Art Museum, and composer study with Meet the Great Composers. Weekly geography lessons will be map drawing, and reading Hungry Planet and Material World. Latin and Spanish will be weekly DVDs, while Gaelic will be simple conversational bits and phrases.
Our goals and methods won’t look like anyone else’s, because they’re personalized to my family’s interests and personality types!
Before you sink a ton of money into curriculums or co-ops, do the work of discovering your own and your children’s personality types. This is one of those life-hacks that has served me well in all aspects of parenting and homeschooling. Nurture by Nature by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger is an excellent reference that will help you type your children.
For example, I know I’m an INFJ. As a homeschooling mom, it’s wonderful to know my strengths and weaknesses. I strive to provide a safe, loving, understanding environment, rich with ideas & connections. My strengths allow me to identify with my children, and my struggles include ignoring my own needs. My homeschooling style is deeply conversational, and I seek out moments of beauty. I become discouraged by conflict and rules-based plans with no room for innovation or flexibility. I can be a stubborn perfectionist as well as a wise, caring friend…finding balance is a daily endeavor!
My oldest son, Asher, is an ESTJ, while my youngest is an ISFP. This gives me incredible knowledge and foresight in making a myriad of educational decisions for our family.
As an ESTJ, Asher is attracted to useful, concrete information and traditions. He is repelled by a lack of rules, order, and can’t stand laziness. He is motivated to create rules and take the lead. He becomes stressed by lack of plans or purpose, and by people who violate his internal rules and ideals. He sees logic and the value of hard work. He struggles with being bossy and giving up when frustrated. His stress symptoms include feeling isolated and misunderstood, which can lead to emotional upset. Ultimately, he is a natural leader who can follow trustworthy authority.
Keane’s ISFP tendencies lead him to be attracted to beauty, nature, and hands-on tinkering. He is repelled by standardization and conflict. He’s motivated to design beautiful creations and environments. He becomes stressed by loud environments and not being able to finish projects. He notices and responds to beautiful things, kindness, and generosity. He struggles with people-pleasing and being assertive. Some of his symptoms of stress include becoming withdrawn and focusing too much on structure and order. Overall, he is more spiritually aware than most, with a need for personal connection and personal space.
The time invested in creating our vision, goals, and delving into everyone’s personality types has allowed me to craft a deeply meaningful homeschool experience for our entire family. Oftentimes we look for quick-fixes or the “right answer” before understanding the nuts and bolts of those entrusted to our care.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day! Purposeful planning and vision casting have given me such a peace for this educational journey. May you, too, discover this peace as you define your own vision and goals!