My first grader came home from school one day wearing a rubber wristband that read, “End the Hate.” I asked him what it meant, and he replied, “I don’t know mom. I just had to sign a paper and then they gave this to me.” I was perplexed…why would they want a first grader’s signature? I called the school to inquire, and they casually told me the school had an anti-bullying campaign that day. But when I did some digging, I discovered the elementary students had a chunk of their regular school hours taken aside to learn all about bullying homosexuals. This included watching a video and signing a petition. I am against bullying in any shape or form, but exposing young children to homosexuality (and without parental consent) had me livid.
That was just one incident of multiple that had me concerned with my son attending public school. I knew there had to be a change, but my husband and I couldn’t afford private school and I felt inadequate to teach him. We prayed about it, and God used my mom to encourage me with these words: “you can always try it for a year, and if it doesn’t work out, put him back in school.” Those words were so simple, yet it spoke to me. Somehow knowing I wouldn’t be locked into this decision gave me the push to get started!
I didn’t know where to begin, but I knew what I wanted. I wanted to protect my young boy’s innocence, teach him the ways of the Lord, allow him to learn at his pace and level, give him time to explore nature and run around, instill our family’s values, and have the freedom to select who his influencers would be (including friendships) at such an impressionable age. Having my son at home gave me so much peace. We weren’t rushing for the school bus anymore (yay for later mornings!) and he was protected from the negative influences and propaganda.
Now more than ever we have a reason as believers to be concerned with government-run schools. Not only have they taken Bible, prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance out of schools, but they have an agenda to mold your children into their belief system.
For example, some states now have a mandatory LGBTQ curriculum and are teaching children as young as five that they can be whatever gender they choose!
Homeschooling was intimidating to me at first, but what was even scarier, was having my precious child under the influence of those who were promoting what I fundamentally disagreed with. Very quickly after choosing to homeschool, I discovered that the uneasiness I felt with him in school was greater than the uneasiness I felt about homeschooling. I was able to dismiss my fears of teaching him because of a deep conviction that the atmosphere in the public school was changing my boy for the worst (I give more details of this in my book, Homeschooling: You CAN Do It!)
You may be considering homeschooling but have your doubts. You may fear not having the patience or organization to teach. Or you may have a child that has already attended public school and are concerned they will miss their friends or resist your authority. Or maybe you have a child with special needs and worry you won’t have the resources you need.
These are all valid concerns, and I can empathize with each of them as I lived through them. But can I encourage you, if you are feeling called to homeschool, to give it to God and surrender your worries to Him? The Bible promises: “..in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-8) God loves you and your children, and desires that you be at peace:
“Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
The Lord also promises to gently lead us, moms and dads!
“He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
You may not believe you can do it, but trust in the One who can do it through you!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Homeschooling, I realized, isn’t just a way of learning, it is a lifestyle. Each new day presents new opportunities for growth. We have the time necessary to bond, get absorbed in a good book, and finish a painting. I love having a ‘front-row seat’ to their learning – like hearing first-hand the cute things they say, seeing their joy of mastering a new concept and witnessing their talents bloom. God helped me to make the brave decision to homeschool and has shown up time and time again.
If you have decided to homeschool, let me assure you there will be hard days. But! Let me reassure you that God will give you everything you need as you seek Him. And with homeschooling as popular as it is now, there is an abundance of resources, activities, and groups to aid you.
I’ve put together a list of steps to make it easy for you to follow if you’re just getting started and don’t know where to begin.
- Seek Him first. He will direct you! (Prov.8:17, Prov. 3:6) If we don’t seek God and take time to read His word and listen, we may miss what He is calling is to do. (I recommend this brand-new book written just for homeschool moms that guides you on a 21-day journey of drawing closer to Him.
- Have fun dreaming about what your ideal homeschool looks like! What hopes do you have for your children? What excites you? What are your gifts and talents? What do you want to pass on to your children? (see p. 81-83 of my book)
- Interview your child (what are their interests? What do they want to know more about? Identify God’s giftings and help them develop those)
- Legal steps www.hslda.org
5. Find community (Facebook is a great way to find local groups)
6. Placement tests (Many curriculum providers offer these online for free, such as Singapore Math)
7. Choose curriculum that matches your child’s needs, your family’s beliefs, that will inspire you and your child, that is at the appropriate level, and one you can use for multiple children (if applicable).
9. Ask questions! Feel free to message me on Facebook (Homeschooling: You CAN Do It!”), find other homeschoolers, attend homeschool conventions or online summits for homeschool parents.
10. Map out your school year (again, more detail on how in my book)
11. Set up your classroom/teaching space & gather materials
12. Create a vision and mission statement for your homeschool family to help you focus on what’s most important (email me for a free handout on how to do this: firstname.lastname@example.org)
13. Plan a family planning retreat once a year (see Phyllis’s book)
14. Create a homeschool tradition unique to your family!
Numbers 12-14 may not be necessary, but I highly recommend them. I’ve been homeschooling since 2011, and the last three steps evolved over time. In fact, I just learned about Phyllis’s planning retreat within the past year after reading her insightful book, and I’m excited to do this with my family! Not only is it a good idea, but I think a necessary one for seeking the Lord’s will, helping your days run smoother and retreating from the “tyranny of the urgent” (as described in her book) to purposefully connect with your family.
We started off the school year this year by escaping to the Gulf Coast. I took our “First Day of Homeschool” pics on the beach! Those 5 days spent provided enriching opportunities through exploration, field trips, hands-on activities, reading, discussion, and most importantly, family bonds and memories that will last.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned through homeschooling is that there is no one ‘right way’ to teach. There are many different methods, strategies, and curriculum to pick from. Find what inspires you to teach and what helps your children to learn best. Take one day at a time, giving it to the Lord. You CAN do it!
Kirsten McTernan is the wife of a professor, mom of four boys ages 2-15, and author of the book, Homeschooling: You CAN Do It! You can find her on Instagram @kmcternanwrites or Facebook at Homeschooling: You CAN Do It!