Homeschooling Is Parenting

Posted on

I know, I know. Blanket statements do not stand the test of real life. Let me explain my title. “Homeschooling is parenting” means one cannot homeschool without being really good at parenting. You don’t have to be a certified teacher to teach your own children at home, but you do need to be a good parent to homeschool. Academics, believe it or not, are not as important in homeschooling as parenting skills.

Girl with lion statue in Gatlinburg

My daughter in The Village, downtown Gatlinburg

That does not mean your child will suffer academically if they are homeschooled. On the contrary, most homeschoolers score higher on standardized tests than their peers who attend public or private schools. But it does mean that unless you have some parenting skills, you will never even get to the table to teach junior how to read.  Continue reading »

I have had several moms tell me, “I would have liked to have homeschooled my children, but I know my daughter and I would have killed each other if I had gone that route.” Hmmm… Yes, mother-daughter relationships can be tricky, but you just told me you never really got the hang of it. I have a daughter and want to get the hang of it. Not just for homeschooling, but for life in general.

The good news is that parenting skills can be learned. None of us were raised by perfect parents and some of us have some serious learning to do in that department. I know I do.

Which is why, besides praying for wisdom, I have been reading parenting books. Since I started homeschooling though, it has been so easy to focus on how-to-homeschool books, that I have neglected parenting books altogether. The result was that I allowed some bad habits in my parenting and, over time, this affected our homeschool. You see how the two are connected?

Recently, I reached a point where I was desperate to have a better grip on my children’s attitude and behavior. I finally opened up to a good friend who homeschooled two children successfully. She gave me wonderful advice and then the title of a book by James Dobson: Parenting Isn’t For Cowards. I will be forever grateful to my friend for steering me in the right direction.

I will be blogging about this book in a future Tuesday Tome post, but I can tell you right now it is exactly what I needed to understand parenting as a whole, to have a big picture of what to expect, how to cope, and to learn how some Bible passages about child-rearing can be misinterpreted even by pastors. This book is an answer to my prayer for wisdom.

It also reminded me to check out other resources from Focus on the Family. How could anybody go wrong with these books and seminars? If you are feeling tired or discouraged as a parent, you should definitely reach out for help to a friend or a website or a support group. Don’t wait until it is too late and your burnout will cause you physical distress or worse.

Leave your pride aside and open up to somebody you trust, a spiritual leader in your life, a book somebody once mentioned, or a Google search at the very least. Take care of yourself so that you can take good care of your children.


3 Points for Homeschool Planning

Posted on

I just came from our monthly parent support night and, as usual, I feel energized. I have written here before about how great these meetings are. The family who shared with us graduated a daughter from high school last year and another daughter will graduate this year. Both daughters were accepted by multiple colleges on full scholarships.

The mom shared 12 points for homeschool success, but she said the three most important ones are:

1. Get involved in 4-H – the opportunities for growth and learning abound in 4-H. Just in case you are wondering, 4-H is no longer about raising pigs and chickens. It is public speaking, government, history and many other projects. The kids get to lead out for most projects, with adult counselors supervising.

And, to quote from the 4-H philosophy, there are no failures, only learning opportunities. Children learn to lose, not just to win, as they get involved in all these projects.

Which is great preparation for when they get overlooked for a promotion as adults, for instance. Or when they don’t get picked for a team. Or when they don’t get the girl. Learning to lose gracefully is just as important as learning to win.

2. Keep good records – the homeschooling mom who shared with us said this was THE most important point on her list. She said, “You can either plan well or you can keep good records. I was never good at planning, but I kept good records.” I think she has a valid point. If I had to choose between making lesson plans and keeping records of what we actually did, I would prefer the latter. It would be more useful, too.

She recommended a three-inch binder per child, per year, with a few notebook pages in the beginning: “Activities,” “Field Trips,” “Books,” and whatever other list you can think of. You need columns for the date, how many hours, the name of the activity and whether it was a solo or a group event.

Use sheet protectors for your museum brochures, tickets and show programs, so that you have a better idea of what you did that day. If you can, get a letter from the organizers that your child was there – this could be, for instance, if your child sang at a political rally, or cleaned a portion of a city street.

3. Take advantage of dual enrollment courses – graduating from high school with an associate degree or, at least, with many college credits, presents so many advantages. Financially, it makes a lot of sense.

Socially, the students get to experience college for one hour a day, then they come home. Then, they can discuss all the college stuff with their parents. They see kids dropping out, failing because of procrastination, relationships that mess up lives or alter the course of somebody’s future, they learn what it’s like to be in a classroom with others and so on.

Academically, they get challenged, but they also get helped. High school courses tend to be harder than college courses. It takes double the time to get an English high school credit than a college one – as crazy as that may seem. Also, just like with 4-H projects, your kids get to be accountable to somebody other than mommy.

The homeschool dad who shared with us summed it up like this: “It goes by fast, it does not last, so make it a blast.” He encouraged us to make it fun. So thankful for homeschooling parents who share their wisdom.