1 - Lay the Foundation

Your decision to homeschool will lay the foundation for your entire homeschooling experience. Why are you making this decision? There is probably more than one factor: a desire for a better education; a greater influence on character and discipline; a dissatisfaction with schooling options; and many of you may feel God is calling you to this commitment.

Home education is a work in progress, with great final rewards. Getting started may seem intimidating, like taking a dive into cold water. After the initial shock, though, you’ll begin to warm up. You’ll realize that finding what is right for your family will involve making changes, rescheduling, and incorporating some new methods. You’ll probably try several different curriculums and methods until you find out what works for you and your family. Nowadays it’s easy to homeschool through high school. We can help if you need it.

2 - Be Informed

Read books about homeschooling. For example, Hewitt’s Home Education Guide gives you ideas as to what we consider important aspects of homeschooling. Read through our philosophy under our Homeschooling tab to see a synopsis. We like Charlotte Mason and her ideas of living books. We like a relaxed and flexible school experience especially in the early years, focusing on building a bond between parent and child. We focus on reading the classics and lots of writing practice all the way through 12th grade.

Also look through some of the hundreds of homeschooling websites. You have your traditional methods that use a lot of books that were written for Christian schools. There are many online programs. At Hewitt, we use a somewhat eclectic approach. Also consider the unschooling method to see if it fits your family.

3 - Develop Respect

Demonstrate leadership. Develop respect for each other. Your children will learn far more from how you act than just by what you say. Model those traits you value.The golden rule should be the basis of all rules. Rules should be few, simple, and reasonable. Children need to know what is expected and what the consequences are of broken rules. Consistency is more important than being dogmatic. Help them to earn as much freedom as they can handle by helping them to learn how to make decisions early on. This will be a great foundation for becoming mature. We encourage you to let them take responsibility for their education as soon as they can. The quicker you become a facilitator rather than a teacher the better it will go. Teaching self-sufficiency in research and responsible use of time are both important lessons that homeschooling provides.

4 - Develop Goals

Select goals that will help your students develop an intrinsic love for learning and inspire creativity. We suggest that you develop goals in three major areas: academics, service, and work. You will find that these may be integrated—while doing work and service projects your students may practice the academic skills they are learning. True homeschooling is not patterned after traditional public education. It includes learning practical skills and developing the spiritual, mental, physical, and social aspects of education.

5 - Develop Order

Plan that homeschooling will take time for interaction between you and your students. Rushing is destructive. There is a time in life for many things, but your children will never be this age again. Now is the time for your children.

Simplify your lifestyle by knowing what is important to your family. Then organize a routine and schedule that meets your family’s needs. Learn to say no to activities that will make life too rushed. Say yes to activities—even spontaneous ones—that are meaningful to you.

We all have too much stuff. Make a one-time (or once a year), serious effort to keep only things that are important to your family, and that they each have their own place. It will be a lot easier to maintain order once you’ve accomplished this.

Effective order requires that all family members cooperate. Discuss with your spouse the time-consuming things that you both can eliminate to make more time for your children. Even worthwhile things such as heavy church responsibilities or a second job that provides extra money may need to be curtailed if they take too much time away from your priorities.

6 - Select Curriculum

A curriculum is not only books; it is all the things used to teach concepts. You will want to select a curriculum that is user friendly, but also meets your goals and is appropriate for your children’s abilities. It used to be almost impossible to find curriculum, now there are endless choices. Look at our curriculum recommendations for each section: elementary, junior high, and high school. While we primarily sell our own products, we recommend specific choices from other publishers. If you’re enrolled with Hewitt, you can also get advice from your counselor. 7 Create an Education-Friendly Home Begin to gather resources and prepare space for your home school. Some suggested items are a table or desk, bookcase, computer, printer, map/globe, dictionary, thesaurus, field guides, nature books, Bible, good reading material at your children’s levels, encyclopedias (used ones if necessary), educational games, paper, pencils, art materials.

8 - Join Support Groups

Visit home-school support group meetings in your area. Look for one in which your children can participate in group activities and socialization. You may visit more than one to find the right size or style; you may even decide to develop your own small group with several other families. If so, include in your group not only others new to homeschooling, but also experienced homeschoolers.

When you hear questions from friends or relatives about how you plan to socialize your children (and you will, no doubt!), explain that this support group networking is one of the ways you fill this need. Children need socialization with more than their own age group. Homeschooled students are generally at ease socially with people of all ages and are able to converse with both children and adults.

9 - Home School Legal Defense Association

Visit HSLDA to obtain help in determining how to comply with the laws of your state and to find local support groups. Although joining is optional, if you are a member and your homeschool rights are threatened, HSLDA’s homeschool attorneys will represent you. The cost of this insurance plan is currently $120.00 per year.

10 - Build Enthusiasm

Be enthusiastic! Children learn attitudes from parents. Do the best you can, and be as patient with yourself as you are with them. Remember, you are learning right along with them. You are learning about yourself and about your children. (Choosing the curriculum that fits with your family’s needs goes a long way toward maintaining enthusiasm.) Many parents declare they learn more than children during their first year of homeschooling.

11 - Be Committed

Be firm about your commitment to homeschool for one year at a time. Re-assess your commitment each year and set new goals. Pray with and for your children each day. Pray for wisdom and patience in your new role. Commit yourself to God’s leading, and be faithful to your commitment. Don’t doubt in the “dark” (those days when you seem to accomplish nothing) what God has shown you in the “light” (the day you made your commitment).

12 - Trust the Holy Spirit

Year after year one homeschool parent observed in her church congregation a family whose children seemed unusually well-mannered, bright, and helpful to young and old alike. As the years went by, she watched these children continue to participate in church activities. Their cheerfulness, willingness to do their best in whatever was asked of them, and respectful attitudes made her wish that her own children had more of that sweet spirit. Even during those difficult teen years, these children grew to be even more responsible. Finally she could contain herself no longer and asked, “What is your secret to success in raising such wonderful children?”

The reply was that because her children were so precious to her, every morning she went to each child’s room, awakened him softly, knelt by his bed, and prayed that God would be with him during that day, and would give him the help and courage to do right, to learn, and to use the talents God had given him. She prayed for wisdom in helping him learn to live a Godly life. “If my children have been successful,” she replied, “it is because God has answered my prayer.”

This may not fit your personality or style, but the prayers of your heart are heard also. Rather than worry, trust the Holy Spirit to do what you cannot accomplish.

Homeschooling is a lifelong process that will reap lifelong rewards. Remember our motto, and develop a mind for a lifetime of use …


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