Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Just starting out? Foundations for Christian Home Education

Just starting your homeschooling journey and want to know some basics?

  • Obviously, not all home educators are Christian.
  • Obviously, not all Christians are home educators.
  • Obviously, not all home educators who are Christian follow the same methods or have the same combination of aims, objectives or even reasons behind their choices to home educate.

Never the less, I think Christian home educators DO tend to have one thing in common, and that is a distinctive value system that underpins their home-educating journey.

To some people, this basic truth may feel like a strait-jacket, but for others -- especially if you're just starting out -- it's more like a rock on which you can build the foundations of your home school.

On the other hand, I have firmly believe that home educating is a distinctively individual thing, and that includes each individual even in one family. What I do with my kids in my situation isn't at all what my friend does with her kids in her situation.

Home-educating styles are
as unique as the child

There are almost as many permutations of home educating as there are people in the world!

So with some hesitation, I put my suggestions and advice onto this blog. And yet, I know that those just starting out will find it helpful to see the path that someone else has already trod, and so here are my thoughts about organising, planning, and establishing a Christian HE foundation in your home.

In the first place, I'll just remind you that I have 4 children aged 11, 9, 6, and 4. I have home educated from the beginning, so have about eight years of this under my belt. I have tried many different curricula like Konos, Heart of Dakota, Montessori methods, Heart of Wisdom, etc. They all worked in their different ways in their different times.

At the current moment, I'm picking and choosing from Ambleside Online, and using a Charlotte Mason methodology with strong biblical study overtones.

This is a fairly usual eclectic arrangement you find with families who have been doing this a long time ...

Typical Christian HE Mum
Loved by God
Rarely in photos!
To my mind, I think what's most important is putting God first in your own life, learning about Him yourself, praying, having quiet time, listening, etc., and then passing that to your children. All the academic studies need to be subordinate to this, since I think that's why we're all home educating in the first place. Putting God first, that is.

Finally, I would like to suggest some resources I have found to be invaluable:

  • R C Sproul wrote a fantastic book called When You Rise Up which is specifically about educating children biblically.
  • Robin Sampson's Heart of Wisdom website (see above) offers a lot of ideas and guidance for a Bible-first approach. Most of it you can glean from her extensive website and blog without buying her ebooks, but I did like her Heart of Wisdom Approach manual and was glad to have that in a file I can refer to every year.
  • Anything by Sally Clarkson. I started with her Educating the Wholehearted Child and Seasons of a Mothers Heart, and then devoured her books about Ministry of Motherhood and Mission of Motherhood. And then devoured them again. They're so down-to-earth and encouraging.
  • The Apologia science books by Jeannie Fulbright for elementary grades. We're on the new one about anatomy and physiology, and it's challenging but terrific. The astronomy one is probably best for younger kids.
  • ShillerMath. It was my big God-send when it came to maths and HE -- no preparation for me, and clearly explained at every stage. My kids have really flourished with it. Montessori in method, and great for kinesthetic learners as well as aural or visual or spatial. Only to Year 7/6th grade, though (after that, we're going to try Life of Fred).
  • Ambleside Online and anything Charlotte Mason. Just google these and you'll get all the info -- AO has a lot of background about Charlotte Mason, as does Simply Charlotte Mason.
  • Finally, Anne Elliott's Coffee Break E-zine. Weekly emails with links to her biblical and practical insights about being a home-educating family.
What about you? Have you found a resource that you consider a must-have for Christian home-educators? Tell me about it. Share it with all of us!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kat, thanks for sharing all those tips! I love what you said here: 'To my mind, I think what's most important is putting God first in your own life, learning about Him yourself, praying, having quiet time, listening, etc., and then passing that to your children.'. I have only seriously homeschooled since this September, since my son just turned 6, so am just getting into the techniques. So I appreciate your resource list! I love Sally Clarkson, but haven't heard of most of the others so will check them out :) Thanks for linking up!


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