Homeschooling has been an educational alternative since the late ’80s, eventually becoming legal in every state. It wasn’t really until 2020 that homeschooling was normalized as the entire world stayed home and muddled through homeschooling, homeworking, home sanity keeping. (#pandemic) Everyone quickly understood that homeschooling took planning, intentionality, and investment.
We began homeschooling in the early '90s- the second year that Sonlight was in business- a big breakthrough in the market. It meant we had options beyond the traditional textbook approach of Abeka, Bob Jones whatever curricula the public schools were throwing away.
Mentoring Our Children
That was thirty years ago, and in that time, homeschooling has burgeoned into a billion-dollar industry. What does that mean for the homeschooler? It means choices, opportunity, and freedom. And, honestly, it can mean overwhelm as we all manage decision fatigue- not just with homeschooling, but with managing life during a unique time in history. Homeschooling was growing before 2020, and it has expanded exponentially with curriculum, online learning opportunities, and more. And while areas co-ops and class days may not be meeting as of yet, there are plenty of opportunities still around! And, because of the pandemic, you now have the entire world experimenting with online teaching. That means world-class teachers are at your fingertips!
Homeschooling means you own your children's education- you are not outsourcing to a government or private system. But because of the plethora of choices now available to you and with so many people working part or full time, while they homeschool, it often means that we are coaching or mentoring our students through their academic life.
How do we make the best decisions and navigate the millions of choices?
- Understand what a typical course of study is – possibly within an educational pedagogy.
- Set priorities and a budget – include money for books, supplies, resources, online classes/ experiences, travel, equipment, co-ops, opportunities. Does it have to cost a fortune? No, but like many things, it may come down to time or money- which do you have more of?
- Craft and implement a workable plan.
What is a typical course of study?
- It starts with the Core 4 – Math, English, Science, and History, and for Christians, the Bible
- Often includes electives such as a foreign language
- Add in extra-curricular activities and other electives. For example, in the high school years, you’ll want to consider adding health, art, music, geography, etc.
Keep things simple and doable. Start with the basics such as math and English for all grades, then add in science and history. I am not advocating a class or a curriculum for each subject. I am simply saying, consider how you’ll teach these areas.
When planning, you’ll want to consider your approach. Does your family prefer a traditional textbook approach, a classical approach, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or a unit study approach? Various pedagogies come with pros and cons. Your chosen homeschool style will inform your focus, curriculum, and time expenditures.
For an overview on pedagogies, please take a quick look at our informative article on Homeschool Pedagogy.
Set priorities and a budget.
I recommend that you create a word document to help you plan your subjects, curriculum, and the skills you want them to learn. Once you plan these, you can more easily budget.
What are your non-negotiables – the must-learn skills and subjects for your family?
Our approach was heavily influenced by the great books and the classics, with a heavy dose of science and the arts. Your focus may be more STEM-oriented. This is important to think through. Why? Because the shiny object syndrome exists in the homeschooling world, like everywhere else! And look, we all want the best for our kids, so we think this curriculum, or those books, or this parenting information will help us get to their best. But less is often more, particularly when it comes to our kids and education.
They don’t need everything. They need the basics – math and literacy, a thirst for knowledge, and the skills necessary to learn.
Other things to consider:
- How much money do you have to spend? Prioritize your non-negotiables and find quality materials.
- Freebies -quality materials are literally everywhere for free. Here I have listed a few:
But there are also exceptional courses or experiences available that are an investment. For example, learning Biology, Chemistry, or Anatomy & Physiology from Dr. Kristin Moon at True North Homeschool Academy will set your future nurse or doctor up for success in a way that goes through a textbook haphazardly won’t. Learning Politics or Strategy from Adam Pruzan at True North will set your future analyst or politician up in a way that little else will.
Opportunites for “extras” such as camps, class days, lessons, hands-on activities, readers, travel- all of the things that go into creating and crafting an exceptional life should not be overlooked. Do you need a microscope or pottery lessons, or a horse or dog to train? Will your kids compete in sports or academic opportunities, Boy Scouts, AHG, or TeenPact? These opportunities often cost money and time. Can you budget or barter for it?
Create a plan.
Your plan can be a simple table or grid on a word doc with subjects listed down the side and the school planning year across the top.
For each student, fill in the current levels of math, language arts, science, history, foreign language, electives, physical education, music, extracurriculars, church events like youth group or Bible study, and community service projects that they will be involved in during the year.
|English||U.S. Lit. & Comp||On-line True North with Mrs. Hemmings|
|Novel in a year||Who Dun It|
|Online with Mrs. Curtis; Nov challenge|
|Science||Science of Marvel||Online with TNHA Mrs. Grande|
|History||U.S History||Online with TNHA Mrs. Hemmings|
|Bible||Bible/ MP||With Mom|
|For Language||NiHao||Online Chinese with Mrs. Cao|
|PE||Work-out with Dad|
|Music/ Art/ Theater||One Act Play/ Jan.|
|Co-ops/Clubs||Math Games/ Art/|
|Community Center Tues|
|Community Service||AGH||Weekly Meeting|
|Camps||TeenPact 1-day Camp|
TNHA Family Camp
Black Hills SD
|YouTube||Comedy- dry bar, Trey Kennedy|
There Has Never Been a Better Time to Homeschool
In conclusion, you can take it from veteran homeschool moms like me – there has never been a better time to homeschool! We have so many choices and opportunities that we can involve our kids in each year. We can avoid decision fatigue when creating a simple plan that focuses on curricula and activities that fit within our educational philosophy. Your plan should organize the basics and allow them to pursue their interests. Remember to keep it simple, create a budget based on your priorities, take advantage of free stuff, and set them up for success in their chosen fields with classes from in-real-life or online experts when needed.