We’ve made the case for educating ourselves. But many are left with the question: how? For me, educating myself started with a few good mentors and a stack of books.
When we first began traveling down the homeschooling road, I didn’t know any better than to continue doing what I had been doing since my first child was born. We read, laughed, played, explored, talked, and interacted in a thousand ways with a thousand ideas each and every day. But it seemed that things should look more like “school.” The life and joy of learning fell victim to the dictates of convention. Eventually it became clear that I needed to educate myself to understand what was needed — where the line was between a love of learning and becoming “educated.”
By subscribing to a few homeschool catalogs (no longer available) I began to read about various approaches to education and homeschooling in particular. These catalogs recommended books that helped the reader become more familiar with these approaches and other educational ideas. Then there were various websites that served to explain a different mindset when it came to education. The freedom they preached sounded like the joy we had had when we started — but with a framework to work within.
The process of self-education is gradual, and it is never ending. We’re not going to know everything all at once. And yet, it doesn’t really matter — if we are growing, we have something to pass on to our children.
There is no right way to begin the process of educating yourself. But what follows is one option. Note: you’ll likely be working on one or more of these at a time!
Our Step-by-Step Guide to getting started reflects our own road. Whether you use it as a guide or a reference, it is a place to start in educating yourself.
- First, understand how to avoid some of the potholes that are so easy to fall into such as burnout, an overemphasis on curriculum, not setting goals, and implementing too many things at once.
- Then begin understanding what education is…and what it is not. Create a vision. Lay the foundation. Build the framework.
- Think about how to create an environment that is conducive to real learning — one where children are free to explore, get dirty, make mistakes, and love to learn!
- Begin developing your own approach to home educating — one that reflects you, your children, and your family as a whole. Explore the different approaches to education, selecting those ideas that resonate with you. If possible, choose one approach to serve, at least initially, as a template to work from — a starting place that can be tweaked as you and your children grow.
- Develop your own scope and sequence based on your goals for each child, largely drawn from the approach you have chosen as your template. Understand the difference between skill areas and content areas.
- Choose materials that will help you implement the plan as you have it drawn up.
- Create a schedule that fits within the framework and scope and sequence you have developed.
- Determine the best way to evaluate whether or not you have met your goals.
Notice that at each step along the way, there is much to learn! That is why you’ll find recommended reading at each stop. Not every book we’ve listed reflects our own views, and most books will contain at least one or two ideas with which we disagree. Part of the process of educating ourselves is taking from what we read what will work for us — and leaving the rest!
With these basics under your belt it is time to start working on a family reading list — an opportunity for you to procure the education you never had, while determining the best literature, history, science, and other resources for your children.
There are many books about books to choose from that will get you started. There are also published book lists online that tend to support a particular method.
- Begin by choosing one of these lists as your starting point.
- Start reading the books from the list yourself. If you are sure it will be a hit with your family, try reading some of the books aloud together.
- As you come across other books that look interesting to you, add them to your list.
- When you come across a book that simply doesn’t fit you or your family, delete it from your list.
In the end, not only will you be educating yourself, you will have developed a reading list that fits your own family!
The longer we homeschool, the more we tend to pick up ideas along the way that will somehow help us teach our children. Start making a list of ideas as they come to you that you would like to implement — tools you can use to enrich and develop your homeschool. Here are a few examples to get you thinking:
- Living books.
- A learning lifestyle where children have time to explore their own interests.
- Simple tutoring.
- Taking advantage of the way your children process information or learn.
Take a Second Look
Being well on your way, it’s time to go back to the beginning and dig a little deeper. Somehow things are simply clearer once we have had an opportunity to be immersed in them. By going through a second time, more ideas resonate. Our initial thoughts are expanded.
We set up our Summer School for Mom series just for this reason — an opportunity for those already homeschooling to keep thinking, gather ideas and tips, find encouragement, and draw on helps to have you fired up and ready to go at it again!
Become a Tutor
Eventually you will find yourself at the point where all of these things are working together and you are tutoring your own children. Yes, you’ll still be learning!
- At this point, it will be far easier to see at a glance what resources will fit your children and your family and take advantage of them.
- A natural outgrowth of educating ourselves is the ability to develop our own lessons that will fit each particular child — if we choose to.
- You will also have the confidence to select courses of study, let your children learn on their own, develop your own book lists, and set your own pace.
Our site offers a smorgasbord of options to help you educate your child at home!