Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’

Homeschooling Kindergarten – You Can Do It!

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

It’s that time of the year… Parents are thinking about the school year ahead. It’s a shame that we can’t just enjoy the summer and give our minds a rest. However, there are sign-ups for fall lessons. Public schools have sent out notifications to parents of rising kindergartners to attend Open House. Some parents are looking at private schools. Every year in the spring, I have moms call and inquire about homeschooling. Many would like to teach their newly school-aged children at home but they feel inadequate. The task seems too big! They don’t know where to start.

I want to encourage you. You can homeschool your child! You have been homeschooling since the day you brought your baby home. There was no “curriculum” that instructed you how to go about teaching your child to roll over, use the potty, talk, walk and run or interact with his/her siblings.  Naturally, your child developed and with each new skill, you cheered him on.  You modeled language. You talked to your child. Before you knew it, your babbling baby became a very verbose toddler. Just because your child is now 5 or 6 years old and ready to learn to read doesn’t mean you no longer are capable of doing what you’ve been doing his entire life! You can homeschool!

Homeschooling is no longer odd, unheard of, or only for bun-wearing, denim-jumper clad mothers. Homeschooled children are not unsocialized. Those are stereotypes and myths! God is calling more and more families to this amazing task. No, it is not easy. I would be lying to say that taking on the education of your children is a simple endeavor. However, it is a privilege. It is a joy! While it isn’t easy, there is tremendous support available to those who are called to bring or keep their children home. If God has called you to homeschool, He will equip you in every way.

My tendency is to “read up” and try to “figure out” how I am to do what God has called me to do. There are zillions of books on home-schooling and educational philosophy. There are zillions of curricula out there and they all would have you think “their way” is the “best way.” If you talk to 100 homeschooling mothers, you will likely be introduced to 100 different ways to go about home education. The curriculum fairs are a tremendous resource. However, they can over-complicate! If you are considering homeschooling your kindergartner, I want to encourage you to NOT BE OVERWHELMED by the sheer number of resources out there! If God has called you to homeschool your six year old, you simply need to obey His calling. Don’t try to figure it all out! Relax. Begin reading materials that interests you. In time, you will catch on to “homeschool jargon.” However, knowing the language isn’t going to make your child’s first year of school any more meaningful. Just start. God will lead you!

My encouragement, if God keeps whispering “Why don’t you homeschool next year?” is to do three things.

1. Pray. Yes, really pray about this – with your husband. If your husband is not on board and you think it would be a good fit for your family, pray some more. I know many, many mothers who first felt the call to homeschool and their husbands originally did not. DO NOT NAG! Simply pray about it. Talk about it. If your husband is the one interested in homeschooling and you think he is crazy, please pray! God very well may be speaking through your hubby! Consider yourself blessed that he has such vision!  You do both need to ultimately agree that homeschooling is God’s plan (at least for this year) for your family. It is a lifestyle. It affects your schedule, your resources and most importantly, your children! This is a decision you must make together.

2. Find a mentor. Is there a homeschooling family in your church you know whose children are well behaved, respectful and possess joy in learning? Ask them if you and your husband could meet to talk. I am convinced that no book, speaker, online support group or CD series can ever take the place of real live people who are there for you. Homeschooling families are busy. However, most that I know would be delighted to mentor a young couple. I am so thankful for mothers, ahead of me in their parenting journeys, who have taken the time to answer questions, direct me to resources and pray for me. If you don’t know who to ask, pray. I remember doing this 15 years ago when I first moved to my town. Where I lived previously,  I had a relative who was like a big sister to me. Being ten years older, she had several years of homeschooling under her belt and 6 children when I became a brand new mommy. I grieved not being close to her. The first Sunday I visited my church, I saw a beautiful family with 6 children that reminded me a little of my “big sis.” Boldly, I introduced myself to this mother who did befriend me. I have learned so much from her over the years. I thank God for her! A busy homeschooling mother may not take the time to ask you if you have questions. However, she likely would love to have you over for tea. Take initiative and give her a call!

3. Just start! What do you need to begin? Technically – nothing. I am serious. You can count the plates as you unload the dishwasher. You can “skip-count” pretzels as you put them in baggies for snacks (which is preparation for multiplication.) You can sort laundry into piles. You can teach your child to write using just paper and pencil. You can read to your child. You can teach him basic phonics without any curriculum at all. Dr. Seuss books makes great beginning readers! Read the Bible. Discuss the history behind the basic Bible stories. As your child learns to write, copy scripture verses and write to Grandma. Read aloud everyday about anything your child expresses interest. Listen to stories on CD during quiet time. Talk to him a lot! Go on field trips. Draw pictures! Plant seeds and read about plants or animals or the solar system. Collect tadpoles and watch them morph into frogs. Visit the library often. Enjoy your child. You will be blown away by the learning that occurs!

I know that many mothers feel better having a curriculum tell them what to do. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you can truly dismiss feeling like you HAVE to obey a teacher’s guide. For many mothers with a rising kindergartner, there are younger siblings to tend to as well. It is so important to remember that the school-aged child is not the only child in the family. I have seen kindergarten curriculum that is simply busy work. It could take a mom hours to get through the daily assignments with their child. For a very young child, such work is just not necessary. Thirty minutes to an hour at the most is enough time for a 5 to 6 year old child to devote to table work. That doesn’t mean your child will only learn for up to an hour a day. Leaning occurs all the time! Chores teach responsibility. Free play teaches independence and fosters creativity. Errands are full of learning opportunities. My recommendation is to find resources that don’t stifle the other types of natural learning that a child needs or resources that make you feel burdened by all that you are not doing. I’m planning to write a post of my favorites later this week. However, though I’ve homeschooled kindergarten 5 times, I am not the expert on your child! Nor is a classroom teacher! God gave your children to you. You know them best! He will show you the best resources for them.

It’s that time of year. One school year is coming to an end. There is anticipation of the school year ahead. If God is whispering, “What about homeschooling?” don’t be overwhelmed. Pray about it! Talk about it! Learn from others! You can do it… I promise!

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 6:6-7

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philipians 1:6