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"So You're Thinking About Home Schooling"

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First Chapter

So, you're thinking about homeschooling. Congratulations! Even considering taking a road less traveled requires courage. May I walk the first few steps of this journey with you? It often helps to have someone beside you who has "been there, done that." Let me assure you up front that the homeschooling path is not as daunting as it probably seems to you at this moment. Fear of the unknown is always the scariest part.

I promise I will stay with you long enough for you to feel confident in whatever decision you ultimately make. Yes, you heard me correctly-I'm not assuming that you will end up choosing to homeschool. Homeschooling is not necessarily the best option for everyone. But I do believe it is such a fabulous alternative that no one should reject it without first looking full into the face of it.

Many people have a preconceived idea of what homeschooling is all about. They think that because they don't fit a particular profile, they are excluded from seriously considering the option. But the truth is that there really is no such thing as a typical homeschooling family. Think about it: Any family who is willing to go against the flow of the traditional public school setting is already thinking outside the box. You're probably just a bit off-center yourself. I like that in a person.

So what does the average homeschooling family look like? That's kind of like asking, "What does the average person look like?" Well, we have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth; apart from that, we all have a distinctive look. The same thing is true for the face of homeschooling. You will find a few similar features: for example, parents who want a good education for their children and feel there is no one with a more vested interest in teaching their child than themselves. Beyond that, each family is unique.

What's so funny about the notion of a "typical" homeschooling family is that most of us don't even look the same from year to year. We may begin by homeschooling an only child and graduate with a full house. At any given time, our primary goals may be preparation for higher education, building character, developing closer family relationships, or an emphasis on real-life learning. Most of the time we are enthusiastic about homeschooling; at other times we feel like failures at it.

Not only is the face of a homeschooling family often changing, but the makeup is even harder to describe. Probably the most common combination is a working father and stay-at-home mother with multiple children. But you might be surprised at the number of single mothers, full-time dads, teaching grandmas, traveling families, and former public school teachers who have chosen to homeschool, many with just one child.

And forget trying to figure out how the typical family approaches home education. There are as many different philosophies, curriculum options, and teaching styles as there are reasons for homeschooling. Did you know that many homeschoolers never open a textbook? For many, their most important tool is a library card. A family may be passionate about the principle approach, the Charlotte Mason method, online academies, or unschooling. Or maybe like me, they try a little bit of everything until they find the perfect style of learning for each child, only to have life happen and force them to try something completely new the next year. Try watching our family to figure out what the face of a homeschooling family looks like, and you'll quickly become dizzy.

The bottom line is, you have to find what works for your family. In order to do that, you need to know what's out there. I could give you a list of curriculum companies, teaching methods, and homeschool statistics. But there are already dozens of books on homeschooling, full of impressive facts and information. These are written to address the mind.

I'm guessing that it is for the love of a child that you are even reading this book in the first place. That is why I have chosen to speak to your heart, using stories.

Beginning with my own, I want to introduce you to fifteen families in unique situations who have all chosen to homeschool for different reasons, using a variety of learning methods. You will notice that although our family purposefully homeschools from a Christian world view, the homes in most of the other stories could be of any faith or no particular faith at all. Same goes for the curriculum choices portrayed here. Some curricula are obviously written from a Judeo-Christian perspective; others focus primarily on higher education or great literature.

You may be surprised to learn that public-school bashing is not high on my list of priorities. Granted, many of the families in this book reflect disappointment in one or more aspects of public education, but the majority of reasons represented have more to do with unique home-life situations. I have no personal experience with the public school system, and my only experience with a private Christian school was fabulous. So no, I'm not anti-traditional school. I'm pro-homeschool.

That is why I can't wait to introduce you to some of my homeschooling "friends." I use quotation marks because although I consider to be friends the more than a thousand parents I interviewed via e-mail and the nearly one hundred I talked with on the phone, you would not actually recognize any of them in the following stories. Each family portrayed here is a composite, made up from bits and pieces of the stories of actual people, in verifiable situations, teaching tried-and-true homeschooling methods.

Remember, this book is not a "How to Get Started" manual, a compendium of laws and statistics, or an exhaustive curriculum resource guide. It is a "Let's rap lightly on the door of homeschooling and peek inside before we decide whether we are ready to move in" kind of book. My hope is that by the end of the book and the parade of homes, you may identify a family situation and teaching approach from these stories that resonates with your personality and philosophy of education.

 

 

 

 

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