Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, it can be a bit overwhelming. I remember my friend telling me about walking into Babies-R-Us with her husband during their first pregnancy. Eyes wide, he said, “Do we need all of this?”
You may feel the same when you decide to homeschool. There are so many resources, curriculum choices, philosophies and methods. But let me assure you: you can do this! First take some time to just read and learn about homeschooling. Don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out, though. Trust me, you will grow and change and refine your thinking about education as you homeschool. You do not have to have your students’ education from kindergarten to graduation planned before you begin (and even if you did, chances are you would change your mind anyway).
In The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, as Maria, teaches the von Trapp children to sing with a simple song, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with do-re-mi.” They didn’t have to know how to sing harmonies (though miraculously they seem to figure that out before the song is over) or be able to yodel (which comes later in the movie, along with puppetry), or perform an opera. They learned as they went along.
So let’s start at the very beginning.
A Teacher Education
[This section includes affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.]
You do not need a degree in education to effectively teach your children. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to spend some time learning about it. I loved this part, because even though I was a public school teacher, educating children at home is entirely different than teaching a classroom full of students. And most of the books assigned in my college courses didn’t really address a variety of educational philosophies.
Truth is, I became almost obsessed with learning about homeschooling. You certainly don’t need to go as far as I did. But I found it fascinating. Unfortunately every book, though, seemed to be THE WAY to educate children. Over time I figured out what I believed, and the following books shaped my thinking on the subject the most.
My Top 3
1. Books by Dr. Ruth Beechick
- Heart and Mind: What the Bible Says About Learning
- The Three R’s
- You Can Teach Your Child Successfully
- A Biblical Home Education
2. Books on Charlotte Mason’s Ideas & Methods
- A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
- From the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
3. Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
These books, ideas, methods, and philosophies helped me formulate what I now call Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling.
Homeschooling has become quite the big business now. Just like anything, companies use marketing to sell you their products. And I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that! I hope anyone who creates resources or curriculum for the homeschooling market is passionate about their products, believing them to be effective for a variety of students. Businesses would be irresponsible with their resources if they didn’t want to sell them.
Remember, though, fads come and go in education. As both a public school teacher and homeschooler for over 20 years, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Like the girls from my high school that were voted “Most Beautiful” or “Most Popular” (Can you believe we had those things in our yearbooks?), each year some resource, curriculum, philosophy, or program gets the majority of the votes. The popular vote. Let’s be honest, we like doing what everyone else seems to be doing, what everyone else is raving about.
So let me caution you: just because “everyone” seems to be homeschooling a certain way doesn’t mean it will work for you and your children. Often some of the most popular methods and philosophies are not based on research about developmental levels of children. Many are not based on a Christian worldview. Read thoughtfully and prayerfully. Consider what the writers of the resource or curriculum believe about education and how children learn, even if it is tied up with a pretty Christian bow on top. I wrote about 4 guiding principle you can use to evaluate resources here.
What You Will Find at Cultivate My Heart
Here at Cultivate My Heart, I strive to provide you with ideas and resources specifically for a Christian-based, developmentally appropriate, natural-learning approach that addresses the education of the whole child—heart, mind, and soul. That doesn’t mean no other ways exist to effectively educate your children. However, we used these methods, and have found to be both adaptable and successful for our children as well as many others.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you start. And you don’t need to feel stressed and exhausted all the time once you are homeschooling. Those who have gone before you want to help. I want to help.
Welcome to the adventure of homeschooling.