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Sunday, July 14, 2024 - 04:12 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Focus On Education Eagle Forum

When the world turned upside down in the early spring of 2020, parents were left scrambling to determine ways to entertain their families while they were “locked down” for an estimated two weeks. Two months later, those same parents were wondering how their children could legitimately finish the school year without getting “too far behind” and being prepared for the next grade. Many families chose to embrace the situation by that fall and began the journey as homeschoolers.

It is estimated that there are 2.5 million homeschooled students in the United States. What some parents don’t realize is that homeschooling is so much more than just a means to educate children. If you do it right, it is a way of life. Just as much as choosing to eat only kosher foods, training for marathons, or being actively involved in your place of worship, being a homeschooling family can affect every decision you will make in your household. For my house, choosing to homeschool our children was the third-best decision I made in my life.

If this is something that piques your interest, there are a few things you will need to do before you begin. The first step is to research the laws for homeschooling in your state. Homeschooling is legal throughout the United States, but laws among them are different. The best way to learn the parameters for your state is to contact the state home education association. Homeschooling parents love to talk to and share what they know with other parents who are interested. Be sure to ask about the registration requirements, attendance, vaccinations, and grade reporting systems, as well as any other details with which you are unfamiliar. It is wise to make a list of questions before you make contact, but even then, you won’t know everything to ask. That’s okay! You will learn! I promise!

One of the most common questions asked is how to find the right curriculum. This is where the beauty of homeschooling lies. With few exceptions, the parents get to choose the curriculum that works best for them. When parents ask me, “What is the best curriculum for my fifth grader (or any other age)?” I reply, “The one that works best for YOUR fifth grader.” Then I try to help them determine what that might be. Children are not a batch of cookies that all come out of the oven looking the same! While it can be difficult to decide, rest assured that only you are determined enough to find which one will best serve your child. In a public or private school setting, unless your child meets criteria for needing some intervention, every child uses the same books.

There are many online resources to help you find textbooks – one of my favorites is https://www.christianbook.com/. The Homeschool tab at the top of the page provides many options. Another great place to look is at a homeschool expo or curriculum fair. Some areas even have “used curriculum” fairs. You can also look on social media outlets for curriculum sale pages in homeschool groups in your area. When you are trying to decide, keep these questions in mind:

  • How does my child learn best? Reading about something? Observing others? Doing an activity? While listening to music? When the room is completely silent?
  • Does my child seem to learn differently from other students? Does he/she have trouble learning some subjects while easily grasping others?
  • What is my student’s attention span? Can he/she focus for long periods of time? Is it easier for him/her to learn things in small pieces of information?
  • What things interest my child? What things does he/she strongly dislike?

As you peruse each textbook, keep these questions in mind and allow them to guide your decisions. Also keep in mind that you probably won’t get it right the first time. Therefore we recommend buying used books to help you keep costs down.

Another common question is what a typical “day in the life” looks like for a homeschooling family. The answer is…. there is no typical day! Every family is different and has different dynamics that guide them. For example, I was often chastised for not doing a Bible lesson at the beginning of each day. But only I knew my sons. They were most often awake long before I was, had eaten breakfast, done their chores on our farm, and were playing outdoors before 8 AM. Most days we didn’t begin schoolwork until 11:00 or noon. They would come inside when it was too hot, cold, or rainy, and they would do schoolwork for a couple of hours. After lunch, they would play for a bit longer and then come back inside to complete their lessons before dinner, baseball games, 4-H meetings, or church. Their Bible lessons were done at night because that was the time when I didn’t have to compete with chores, a dog who wanted to play fetch, or a pretty day. I had their undivided attention.

Pearls of WisdomIt is important to note that this method would have been disastrous in the homes of some of our friends. Many families thrive on consistency and rely on schedules. Mine is not one, and I ceased feeling guilty about it a long time ago. Today my two adult sons (ages 30 and 25) are two of the most amazing young men I have ever known. They both have served our country in the military, have full-time work, earn excellent salaries, have no debt, vote in every election, pay their bills on time, and are generally excellent members of their communities. I truly feel that our homeschooling experiences together prepared them to be successful adults today.

Just like every other homeschooling family, ours is a unique story, and one that I would not change for anything. You can read more about it, as well as some of the best tips I learned in my homeschool journey, in my book, Pearls of Wisdom for Homeschooling Moms. It can be found at https://francesarthur.com/.

How to support friends who homeschool:

  • Offer to watch their children so that mom can go to doctor’s appointments and tend to other self-care needs.
  • Do NOT act as the testing agent for their children; you do not know what, how, or when they are learning different things.
  • Do NOT offer homeschooling advice unless it is requested from you.
  • Be an encouragement and blessing to them as the Lord provides opportunity to do so.
  • Share the links below with parents who are interested in learning more about homeschooling their children.
  • Reach out to your state home education association president and set up a meeting to learn more about what they do. The homeschool community can be very helpful to Eagle Forum, and we can be extraordinarily helpful to them. Currently, mosthomeschooling families share the same traditional Judeo-Christian values as Eagle Forum. Work together to preserve our mutual interests.
  • Offer to speak at homeschool events such as career fairs, conventions, and days they gather at the state capitol.
  • Provide opportunities for homeschooled students to shadow you when you are lobbying at your state capitol.
  • Pray diligently for the homeschool community, and specifically for those you personally know. Our nation is in a dire condition and if change is to come for the better, it will begin with those who love the Lord, love our country, and are well-educated to speak on important issues. Homeschoolers fit that description. 

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