Parents new to homeschooling (as well as some who have been on that path for a while), at some point, all tend to deal with very similar obstacles, among these: fear of failure, curriculum-choosing-confusion, and a general sense of personal inadequacy to take on such a monumental task.

Those new to or interested in homeschooling need only go to one homeschooling fair to be utterly overwhelmed when they realize the OCEAN of choices  available to home-educators.  

The first year I went, my brain was a blur and I left (with some phonics flashcards and a pack of stickers as my only purchases!), confused and still wondering, which curriculum should I choose to teach my child?  Which method is the best?  (surely they can’t all be equal).  

Tentatively, prayerfully, and aware that we really and truly “know only in part” –we as parents have to make countless confusing decisions, and do our best within those choices.  

Homeschooling is no different.
Sometimes our choices work well.  
And the ones that don’t–they teach us even more about our kids than we knew before–how they learn, what motivates them, and how we can better educate them.  In two years, I’ve tried 3 Math curriculums, so this is definitely something I understand.

Homeschooling is really about finding what works for you as a family.  In addition, each child is so different, that what works for one may not work for another.  And what works in one season may be inappropriate at another time.  
Home Educators must remain flexible, and open to change with our children (afterall, isn’t that one reason why we choose to educate them at home anyway?  We get the blessing of finding and being able to teach them the way they learn BEST, rather than see them struggle within a one-sized-that-doesn’t-actually-fit-all system).  

Yes, it will take some trial and error, but fear not, dear parent!  We are all learning together, and while the way is not always clear, it keeps us trusting and relying upon the Lord for each step. For the sake our our kids, we must remain positive and prayerfully encouraged that God will give us wisdom as we ask and seek Him.  
What’s more, He lavishes us with an undeserved, coping grace when we do stumble along the way.  

And we won’t always stumble.  

The Word promises over and over that He establishes the steps of the righteous, and that He guides us to smooth places, and onto level paths.  

So yes, as unprepared and inexperienced as you feel now, you will find your footing before long!


BUT here is what I like to encourage those who are new to homeschooling to DO.  
Some practical advice, if you will, because we all need to know how to walk it out.

As you begin, and go along on this journey, rather than searching for the perfect curriculum (which exists nowhere), instead, prayerfully read and research to find a methodology, an ideology for education that resounds deeply within your own heart, that echoes harmoniously with your life experience and presents ideals that you “just know” to be true and good when put into practice.  

You will know when you find it, and it will be confirmed as you apply it.

How will you know?

–It will strike you as something you always just believed, and you’ll sit there, reading about it, and find yourself nodding your head, saying YES, YES, YES!
–You’ll discover it’s rooted in Biblical truth.
–It will appear to you as common sense.
–You will probably have found that particular method or idea working to some extent ALREADY in your own parenting & instructing.

You’ll just know!


For me and my children personally, I have found Charlotte Mason’s methods to be this type of fit, and I am so deeply thankful that friends encouraged me to read and look into her writings (which are vast, richly detailed, and ever practical).
Miss Mason was a teacher and educational reformer who lived in the late 1800s-early 1900s, whose ideas have profoundly shaped alternative education, as well as the students who were fortunate enough to be given the chance to thrive within her schools.  I find her methods complimentary to the Classical Education approach, though they are more freeing, living, and organic where Classical can sometimes lean towards rigidity.  Many homeschoolers, including us, have used a combination of these two approaches with great success.

For the homeschool parent who is insecure, confused and questioning, her writings will affirm the “natural instincts” you have as a mother, and will empower you to step more confidently into your role of teacher.  Indeed, Charlotte Mason did not write to home educators.  She wrote to, and for, parents of children (and sometimes to children directly).


I can think of few educators who have so deeply prized and valued the personhood of children the way that she did.


Her suggested schedules and principles and ideas are not rigid and draining and schoolish.  They are emblematic of abundant, joyful living. 

Indeed, Charlotte Mason is truly one of the best, and those already in the homeschooling community know it. 

But there are others too, so be prepared to be wowed as you read and research (and research you must–for the responsibility ultimately falls upon us as parents, and no one can do the work for us).
It is certainly eye opening for most adults to read and discover alternative educational methods that, when consistently applied, can (and do) enable our children to mature into well-rounded, intelligent, responsible, contributing members of society! 

It starts with you.

If you do not educate yourself, as the parent, and be diligent to seek out what is best, you will, inevitably, fall back to doing what is most familiar to you.

It’s true.

Even if you never taught school “professionally” a day in your life, you will undoubtedly find yourself bringing your own educational experiences (interestingly, the good and the bad) into your home classroom.   

As a “professionally trained” educator, I struggled from the very start of our homeschooling journey with the deep, underlying belief that to be successful (and more official?), I needed to make my HOME school look and function a whole lot like my PUBLIC school classroom did.  The undoing of this has taken some time, and I am still learning what to shed and what to keep.  
To be fair, there were things that worked VERY WELL for me and my students when I was in the public classroom setting, and these are ideas and strategies I have happily transferred over to my home-school environment.  But many other things do not transfer well, and so this is baggage that has to go.

So read.  Research. Pray. Be open to trying (and failing!).  
Go with your God-given instincts.  Parent (and instruct) with confidence and grace.  Be not afraid!  Loosen up, laugh, and enjoy life with your sweet ones.

As Susan Schaeffer Macaulay so beautifully wrote about parenting:

RelaxIt isn’t all as hard as the experts make out.
We are human beings, created to live.  To have life more abundantly.  Wonder together; grow together. Together share the struggles of knowing that we cannot perfectly follow God’s law.  We are fellow pilgrims.  We walk side by side as human beings under love and authority of Him who made us.”1

I want you to hear God’s assurance to you today, fellow parent, because it’s powerful, and it’s what you need to keep going.  God says:

Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you!  Don’t be anxious, because I am your God.  I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you.  I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.  Isa. 41:10

Glory Hallelujah! That’s such good new, isn’t it?  He wants you to believe it and live it.

I’ll leave you with a few more scriptures, as well as an excerpt from one of my favorite books, For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, already quoted above. Here Susan discusses Charlotte Mason’s beliefs about school and play and how they work together.  I hope you find the few ideas presented to be freeing and empowering! 

Let’s remember, as we move forward, that a man may plan his way, but it’s THE LORD who establishes His steps.  Let’s keep marching onward, then and trust Him to direct.

…………………….

Charlotte Mason so believed in this principle of giving children time to play that she organized the lessons so that the child could finish them about halfway through the day.  

As we will go on to see, this was not because she devalued the time of learning.  Quite otherwise: because she respected the children’s minds so highly, she provided a truly liberal education for them at a very young age.  She arranged for a broad curriculum.  However, she knew that if attention was to be given fully, the child should have it contained in a length of time appropriate for them.  Then they could turn their attention from mind-work to enjoying nature, art, play, hand-crafts, and physical activity.  She believed firmly that they should have free time at home, in ordinary surroundings; so her schools never gave homework.

She was very human.  If I had a second childhood, I should like to be educated her way in school.  To be respected as a person, to be provided for richly with ideas from outside, and yet to be left to develop myself, according to my own inner resources.  All of this within the firm framework of reality.  Skills mastered, and yet a feast of interesting ideas to which one could react in one’s own way. 2

Indeed, what a way to learn!

……………………


Continue to stand upon God’s Promises for you today:


I will lead the blind down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.  Isa. 42:16


The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.  Isa. 26:7


 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  James 1:5-6

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.  Isa. 30:21


…………………….

Additional Reading Suggestions:

*These resources have each been profoundly helpful on our journey so far (and are read and referenced again and again).  Please know there is more than enough in this suggested 5-book library to last you a lifetime of pondering and application, so don’t be overwhelmed.  Start with one, then grow your library {and knowledge} a little at a time?

Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shafer
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate 




Works Cited:
1 For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, p. 19
2 Ibid, p. 24



Linking up with:
Trivium Tuesdays ~ Living and Learning at Home


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