This is a question I am asked a lot. I want to preface this entire post my stating that my intentions regarding the education of our children in the beginning never involved home school. It was not even an option for me. I do not feel like I have a "gift" for teaching, coupled with the fact that I LOVED school, every second of it, led me to believe that public school was the best option for our family.
One day, when Eden was about four months old, I was dealing very much with being a stay at home mom. I had left my job when she was born, so dealing with that plus a newborn was a huge life change for me. To be honest, I still deal with it somedays, even now that we are in our fourth year of this lifestyle change. As I was all "woe is me" one night, sobbing and holding this squirmy newborn Eden in my arms, I asked Brandon why we were doing this. His answer changed my entire course of thinking: "I want you to be able to hold her whenever you want". His answer led me to began praying and thinking about the day when that would no longer be possible. School was the first step to independence. What about teaching her about God whenever I want? I began to dig in the Word for answers, and the following are verses I have found encouraging in home educating our children:
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead . You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates". (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord". (Ephesians 6:4)
"All your sons will be taught of the LORD ; And the well-being of your sons will be great". (Isaiah 54:13)
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect". (Romans 12:2)
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm". (Proverbs 13:20)
"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea". (Matthew 18:6).
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)
"But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, 'Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'"(Mark 10:14).
After reading these and other passages in the Bible, it became clear to me (against my own will and way of thinking!) that God would bless the teaching and training of my children at home. I can teach them all day, every day, about God and His creation. I can "make disciples" through my little ones, and give them the opportunity to disciple others.
(One final thought: I have a host of family and friends that are public school teachers. These teachers are amazing. Period. I am simply speaking from what God has spoken to me.)
How do you decide what to "teach" each day? (Books, curriculum?)
This is an area I struggled with at first. I have been doing "Bible lessons" with Eden since she was around August's age. The more I prayed and simply thought about it, I really like the way we "do things" around here. So, I stuck with the same idea I have used with Eden (same Bible story each day for a week) and just expanded it to include more facets of education. Here is what our "official" homeschool plan looks like for the next 6 weeks:
Week 1: August 15th-21st: The Golden Calf
Week 2: August 22-28th: The Fruit of the Spirit
Week 3: August 29th-September 4th: Cain and Abel
Week 4: September 5th-September 11th: The Tower of Babel
Week 5: September 12th-September 18th: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Week 6: September 19th-September 25th: Review Week (review each of the above lessons a day this week).
The next six weeks will be structured the same, with a review week after 5 weeks of lessons, to take each lesson once again during that review week to see how much we remember :)
I know some of these lessons I have done before, but what better way to reiterate them and help us further memorize and hide God's word in our hearts?
So, I do not currently use an official curriculum or books other than what I have come up with on my own. This may change as they get older, but it works well for us right now.
Here are some "highlights" from the past two weeks of home schooling:
|How we begin each day: Bible story, days of the week, weather, chore chart|
|Working on telling time!|
|Visiting the neighbor's cows during "The Golden Calf" lesson week|
|Eden's "fruit stand" and homemade memory game from "Fruit of the Spirit" lesson week|
|Vocabulary/spelling words taken from the Bible story, and Eden practicing with scissors (look out!)|
How do you include the younger ones in the lessons?
August and Titus are present during most all of the lesson blocks. I do a "breakfast block" while they are finishing their breakfast that includes the Bible story/days of the week/weather/counting in English and Spanish/telling time/music. We do chores after the lesson. "Lunch block" includes reading/writing/shapes and colors (for the little ones)/math, and science/geography/world missions depending on the day. It sounds like a LOT, but I condense the material to about 30 minutes to an hour per block. After nap is when we do "fun stuff" like visiting those cows, going to farmer's markets, crafts, play dough, etc. Basically learning through God's creation :) Take the "Golden Calf" lesson, I may tell the kids to "moo" when they hear the word "calf" in the story, a way to get August involved and help him to learn animal sounds. Titus normally sleeps during this time :)
How do you afford to home school?
I had a girl at the health department ask me this a few weeks ago. She said that she would love to homeschool, but could not afford it. With Brandon's permission, I would love to write a post soon about how we went from two incomes to one and how it IS possible. We said the same thing, we could not afford for me to stay at home. Four years, three kids, and two cars paid off later, we are still chugging along! I buy workbooks, flash cards, craft supplies, etc at the Dollar Tree and the Target dollar aisle. I borrow the big things we need, and make use of our neighborhood and surrounding areas for mini (and free!) "field trips". Living in a small town definitely causes you to be creative!
Ok, I know this post was SUPER long, but wanted to address what each of you have asked. I'm sure there will be a follow up post in the future, as I know I have probably left out info along the way. Below are links to other posts that may be helpful in explaining how we orchestrate our day:
A Peek Inside Our Day: Part 1
A Peek Inside Our Day: Part 2
Fruit of the Spirit week (2009)
Please pray for our family, as we struggle and try to follow God each step. I seem to be the one that holds our family back from following His will for us. Don't let that be you. If this is an area you feel God leading you in, listen to His voice!