How To Homeschool…Successfully: Top 5 Tips

1. Know your "whys."

Because when the days are long and hard and everything in you wants to throw in the towel and chase down the next yellow bus, you will need to be reminded of the “whats” that led you here, and the “whys” in which you are seeking, your aims, or end goals, by and through God’s spirit and grace. It is helpful as we make a plan in the present, to do so with the end in mind. For as the Proverb goes, “without a vision, the people will perish.” (29:18) I would suggest writing these down somewhere so you can be reminded of them daily, but especially when the going gets tough. For this very reason, I have our homeschool whys posted on our wall and in the front of my planning binder. And remember, if you feel called to homeschool for a year, or for the years to come, to holdfast to these truths...

“Whatever God calls you to He will equip you to do His will”
~ Hebrews 13:21

“He who began a good work in you will see it through completion.”
~ Philippians 1:6

“For He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it!”
~ 1 Thessolonians 5:24

So know your whys, and then lean not on your own understanding (or feelings), but on every word of God, who goes before you, walks beside you and hems you in from behind.  Amen!

2. Keep it simple.

There are so many Pinterest-worthy ideas out there, and I might even have thrown a few at you, but at the end of the day none of that matters. “Stick in the sand,” as Leigh Bortins founder of Classical Conversations says. Open the Bible, be present to one another, get outside and read living books. Much can be learned by just being together working in and through relationships, asking good questions, fostering conversations and opening our eyes to all that is around us. For as Saint Augustine stated, “I learned most not from those who taught me, but from those who talked with me.”

3. Integrate.

This word literally means to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning, unified whole; to combine one thing with another; to bring people with particular characteristics or needs into equal participation in a social wholeness. It comes from the Latin root "integrat"- which means “made whole.” How can we integrate within our family? For starters, do less, not more, which follows the principle of Classical Education “multum non malta,” which means much not many, or. in otherwords, rooting in deep, not being spread out too thin. Within your family, to shift towards greater integration, we can ask ourselves some simple questions...

* Do we even have a family aim? If not, start there.

* If so, has that aim has been clearly defined and articulated to all members in an age appropriate way?

* And then assess, are we actually moving together towards that aim? Or, are the members acting more
independently, and thus moving apart?

* Next, what are the current needs or weaknesses in our family? What strengths are present within our family? How
can we creatively tap into and encourage these strengths to serve and meet the current needs and weaknesses?

* Lastly, how can we think about integration within the schooling curriculum?
- Can we study the same things, but appropriately scaled?
- Can we read some of the same books so we can all be a part of the same conversation?
- Can we see the subjects not as stand alone fragments, but integrated parts that build upon, and shed light to
the others?

In bringing the individual parts together with a clearly defined aim to love and serve one another as we work towards similar goals, by God's grace, our families will become less fragmented, more synthesized, and more unified- INTEGRATED! And in doing so, we will begin to do less, and, therefore, create space for rest, not just frenzied business in a million different directions, but seek truth, to recognize goodness, to behold beauty, and to be present to one another in conversations and celebration.

4. Don't go at it alone.

We were created for community. Embrace this and find your people.

5. Be humble and be brave.

Honestly, this whole process of choosing a different path for our family and homeschooling has been a dying to what I thought I knew about schooling and education from my own experiences as a teacher and student in a modern / progressive system, a system that has really only been in place for about 100 years. So if you have no teaching experience, honestly in some regards, it might be easier for you to embark upon homeschooling.  You have a fresh slate in front of you.  So don’t let that intimidate you.  You love your child, you know them best, you see the whole picture of who he is in context and not just in the fragment of a school day, and you will assist him in his journey to the best of your ability even if that means reaching out for help or further assistance when needed. 

With that said, choosing to walk this path of homeschooling in many ways is a countercultural choice (although this is changing), and it will be met with neigh-sayers and resistance.  But hold fast to your whys and your aims.  For our family, it is a desire for a slower paced, integrated, intentional way, and the quest for God-following, people-loving, lifelong, passionate learners and seekers of and delighters in the true, the good and the beautiful.  Whatever it is that has brought you here- you got this! (Because God has got you and your children in His grip!) For as Malcolm Gladwell states in his book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of study on any one thing to become an expert.  Five hours a day the first five years of your child’s life meets this mark.  You are an expert on your child by the time his more “formal” education is about to begin.  Own this, trust in God, ask for help, become a humble learner, walk alongside your child and grow with your child.  You won’t be disappointed!

So to sum it all up...

Know your "whys."
Keep it simple.
Don't go at it alone
Be humble and brave.

To God be the Glory!

I am rooting for you as I too am thankful for ways those who
have gone before me have encouraged me as well.