(Last Updated on December 8, 2023)
The more we homeschool, the more I realize a lot of my job as home educator does NOT have to do with academics.
Sure, the 3 R’s are important, but there are higher objectives we should be prioritizing.
I know it sounds simplistic, but if you put first things first, the rest really does tend to fall into place.
The times I’ve focused first on the academic details (like how to teach math or buy curriculum), while neglecting God’s leading or overlooking character issues in my kids, it just leads to worry and chaos.
But, when I’ve focused first on the truly important things – for example, when I’ve remembered to pray first and make character building a priority – the academic details seem to work themselves out (or, at least, I don’t stress about them as much).
If you’re not sure where to start with homeschooling, work on the following five areas and you’ll be well on your way to a successful home education for your kids.
” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”– Matthew 22:37-38, NIV
You don’t need a PhD in theology to teach your kids how to love God. Much of what I learned about God I learned from my parents. Not because they’re perfect, but because they’re growing.
None of us are anywhere near perfect. But despite our bumbling, we can (and should) still be instrumental in teaching our kids to love God.
As you humbly grow in your own faith, your kids will see it and it will be a powerful witness to them.
” …And the second [commandment] is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”– Matthew 22:39, NIV
When I’ve hyper-focused on squeezing in the academics planned for the day, relationships often get squeezed out. More often than I’d like to admit, I have to remind myself that people are more important than to-do lists.
Thankfully, homeschoolers usually have the flexibility to adjust their schedules. So when you’re planning your days and weeks, take the opportunity to include time for volunteering, spending time with family and friends, helping neighbors, and building relationships.
Homeschooling is a perfect setting for modeling a love of learning. Many homeschooling parents weren’t homeschooled themselves, so just by deciding to homeschool, they’re already modeling a lifestyle of learning and trying new things!
We can’t possibly prepare our kids for every situation they’ll ever encounter. There will ALWAYS be knowledge gaps. Technology is changing so quickly, the job they have ten years in the future might not even exist yet! But, if your kids learn HOW to learn, they’ll be able to teach themselves anything they need to know in the future.
The best part is, some of your weakest subjects will be the easiest areas to model a learning lifestyle for your kids! History was always my weakest subject in school but now, learning it alongside my kids, I find it fascinating. They’re witnessing my excitement and genuine curiosity as I learn with them, which has led to history being one of their favorite subjects! (More about this in this post: A Tale of Two Subjects: Why Homeschooling Parents Succeed Even if They Aren’t Experts)
It’s important to teach intentionality and self-discipline when it comes to managing time, money, and abilities. That sounds kind of intimidating – but if you think about it, you’re probably already doing this.
Homeschooled kids generally have a lot of opportunities to see your self-discipline in action as you go about your day taking care of the household – paying bills, doing chores, cooking meals, and preparing school work. As you handle your daily responsibilities, you’re modeling self-discipline and hard work.
Give kids opportunities to practice being disciplined and diligent by adding age-appropriate responsibilities and privileges as they get older. Responsibility and self-discipline are character qualities that will help them at work and at home for the rest of their lives.
I can’t think of a single job or project in my professional architecture career when I was given all the information I needed and everything went perfectly. I regularly needed to fill in the gaps, make educated guesses, and make do with what I had available.
If you can teach your kids to find creative solutions to problems, think outside the box, and use whatever supplies and tools they have to get the job done, you’ll be doing them a great service.
Home educators have an advantage in teaching resourcefulness. After all, a homeschooled kid’s entire education is already “outside the box” and, generally speaking, homeschoolers are resourceful people.
So, use open-ended projects, encourage creative thinking, watch reruns of MacGyver if you have to – but don’t neglect to teach your kids to be resourceful!
After reading a weighty list like this, it’s tempting to feel discouraged and think of all the ways we fall short. Don’t fall into that trap!
The key to teaching your kids all these important things is simply to work on them yourself. Note that I DIDN’T say “already be good at all these things yourself.”
Modeling the growth process for your kids – growing in faith, developing self-discipline, becoming more resourceful – is a great way (maybe the best way) to teach them.
So, keep the lines of communication open. Don’t be afraid to talk with them about ways you’re each trying to grow. Be approachable, humble, and honest and they’ll already be learning the most important things they’ll ever need to know!
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