Getting Started

Don’t Start Out Overloaded!

It can be overwhelming when you first decide to homeschool your children. Questions abound – what curriculum should you choose, which one is the best? Should I use textbooks or go with computer-based learning? Do I need lots of supplemental materials? What if I forget to include something important? It is easy to become discouraged before you even begin.

So where do we start? Every Adventist family should first prayerfully study the idea of Christian education and develop a personal homeschool philosophy. What are your family’s spiritual and academic goals? How do your spiritual goals affect the academic ones? Next, parents should observe their children and examine how they learn. Are your children hands-on learners or do they learn best by hearing information? Does your child memorize things set to music? Why start with these two ideas? When you have personal homeschool standards in mind and an understanding of how your children learn, then you can more easily evaluate curriculum and materials. For instance, if you have studied and decided not to use fiction as part of your family’s learning and you also know that your child is an auditory learner – now you can narrow down your curriculum choices based on those personal guidelines. You now know specifically what you are looking for in a math program or history curriculum. Don’t choose curriculum based solely on others recommendations- develop your own personal homeschool convictions first and couple it with an understanding of how your child learns. Only then should you begin to use the recommendations of others.

Don't burn out before you begin!
Don’t burn out before you begin!

One of the blessings of reading the books Education, Child Guidance and other Spirit of Prophecy books on education is that we learn that education for young children does not start out at full-tilt, with a full day packed with a complicated curriculum with six or seven subjects. When you consider most families are starting homeschooling with one or more “littles” under the oldest, that is a wonderful burden lifted off of a mother’s back! Bible and nature study are a child’s first subjects. Those are subjects that don’t leave out the younger children, all can join in. Formal subjects are added later, a little at a time with short, interesting lessons. Easing into homeschooling gives a family time to enjoy the transition towards a lifestyle of learning.

What if you are pulling an older child out of school to begin homeschooling? The advice is still the same. If a child is leaving a traumatic classroom situation or is discouraged about his/her learning abilities and education, a time of ‘deschooling’ may be of great help. Deschooling is a time to forgo formal studies and regroup. How much time? Depends on your family. Spend time on topics of interest to the student. Get outdoors for some extended nature study. Create a new learning routine and develop new learning habits. In the meantime, develop a homeschool philosophy for your older student, find his/her learning style and use that information to create a set of educational goals.

Starting the homeschool journey does not have to be a stressful experience. Ask God to guide you as you first study and then create or choose a program that fits your needs. The vast amount of homeschooling materials available can seem overwhelming, but take a deep breath; a slow and steady start to homeschooling can and will win the race.

Getting Started, Planning/Scheduling

An Overview of Homeschooling Methods and Styles

You will hear the term “True Education” quite frequently at The Adventist Home Educator. What is True Education?   In a nutshell “True Education is the preparation of the physical, mental and moral powers for the performance of every duty; it is the training of body, mind and soul for divine service. This will be the education that will endure unto eternal life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 330

Is True Education different from homeschooling? Homeschooling is defined as educating children at home, rather than in the formal setting of a public or private school. True Education includes academics, but covers a much broader spectrum than the simple definition of homeschooling. We are talking about more than just learning to read, write and do math. True education is about  training our children to be spiritual,  knowledgeable, physically fit people, with characters developed to meet the challenges of adulthood and prepared to follow God’s will for their lives. We want them to be true thinkers, not just reflectors of another person’s thoughts.

Below are a few brief descriptions of some of the most popular methods of homeschooling. The method you choose should not only be one that fits well with your family, but one that also facilitates and enhances the goal of True Education.

  • Traditional textbook/workbook programs are what most of  us use when we begin homeschooling. It’s familiar to us because it’s the way we were educated in the public or church school systems. Depending on the program you choose, much of the planning may already be done for you. However, following a technique designed to keep a large classroom full of students busy for up to an hour per subject isn’t necessarily the ideal for teaching and training our children at home. There are many of these programs available by various publishers.
  • Classical Education is a method based on what is called the Trivium. This theory is based on the belief that as a child learns, he or she goes through three phases. Grades K-6 are called the Grammar stage. The focus is on teaching the child to read, write and listen. The child is given only facts to memorize, and not presented with theoretical concepts, since it is thought the child is still unable to reason. Grades 7-8 are the Logic or Dialect stage. Students are taught logic and critical thinking. The child learns to be analytical and to comprehend abstract concepts. Grades 9-12 are the Rhetoric stage. At this stage classical education focuses on rhetoric, the art of speaking, communicating, and writing.
  • Unit Studies often combine several academic subjects into the study of a single book or topic. Unit studies can also include the study of character traits, music, art, and more. They are a great way to combine multiple age groups into a single program.  This homeschooling method can require more planning and preparation by the parent to purchase and prepare materials. However, there are unit studies available for free online or that can be purchased from various homeschool suppliers. Even though unit studies can incorporate all subjects, some parents feel they need to supplement with a math or language arts curriculum.
  • Eclectic homeschoolers use different approaches and methods of homeschooling and form a unique homeschooling style. It’s not unusual for an eclectic homeschooler to use a combination of methods and curriculum sources to teach each different subject based on the needs and learning styles of their children.
  • Unschooling is one of the most misunderstood methods of homeschooling. It is sometimes described as interest driven or delight driven learning. Unschooling is trusting in a child’s natural curiosity to lead them to learn what they need to know. Unschooling doesn’t mean there is a lack of parenting or training, and it is not an excuse to do whatever you want. Families implement the unschooling method in a variety of different ways, so no one particular style defines unschooling.

There are many other homeschooling methods and styles such as Charlotte Mason, The Moore Formula, lapbooking, umbrella schools, and distance, online or computer based learning, just to name a few. We encourage you to keep the goal of True Education in mind as you prayerfully research and decide which homeschooling method will be the best fit for you and your family.

Early Learning, Getting Started, Principles of True Education

Your Child’s First Textbook

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Ps. 34:11

The very first textbook to be used for the education of our children is the Bible. Day by day, we are to use the Bible to lead our children to Christ. We are to begin with short lessons, simplified so as to be easily understood. “In these simple stories may be made plain the great principles of the law of God.” Education, 185. Our goal is to direct to our children the commandments of God as standard for living, to teach them to use the Bible as a guide for life. As we use the Bible to introduce our children to God, they will be introduced to His character and their characters will be influenced as a result.

How should we teach our children? The pen of inspiration gives us guidance in creative ways to teach Bible lessons to our children. “ The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory. Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods. The teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best methods, and our most earnest effort.” Education, 186.

Let us renew our energies to consistently present to our children the most important lessons they will ever learn.

Getting Started

Beginning Your Homeschool Journey

There are a variety of reasons that parents choose to home educate their children.  Perhaps you have family or friends who homeschool and you’ve decided to give it a try.  Some families are dissatisfied with the quality of education or the moral influences in the school their children are currently attending.  Maybe you just can’t squeeze enough money from your already tight budget to afford church school, and you don’t consider public school an option. The list could go on and on.  As Seventh-day Adventist Christians I believe that homeschooling gives us, as parents, the best opportunity to raise our children for the glory of God and lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and friend.

  • Before you get bogged down with the mechanics of homeschooling – methods, books, plans and schedules – take the time to earnestly seek the Lord in prayer and the study of his Word. Take all of your hopes, expectations, doubts, and misgivings about home education to Him. Seek His direction and wisdom.
  • Research and study homeschooling. *Here are a few essential reads recommended by AHE-List members: Education by Ellen G. White.   Anything by Dr. Raymond Moore, but especially Home Grown Kids, Home-Spun Schools, Home Style Teaching and The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. The Adventist Home Educator Handbook and Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell.
  • Get connected with your state’s homeschooling organization and become familiar with your local homeschooling laws so you will know what is required.
  • Talk to other homeschoolers, but try to remember that each family is different and will homeschool in a way that works for their own family’s situation. Don’t try to imitate, but instead be prepared to see a variety of homeschooling styles.
  • Establish your own Philosophy of Education. Write down the reasons you want to home school and save this document for future reference.  It will be a tremendous benefit later when you get discouraged and need to re-focus on why you are teaching your children at home. You will probably add to this list as as times goes on and become an experienced home educator. Also write down the Bible verses and Spirit of Prophecy quotes that helped you make your decision.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and concerns from family members, friends and even church family. If your church has a school, your reasons for making this decision may be misunderstood. You’ll want to be able to talk about your decision with others in a way that doesn’t condemn their choices or preferences and put them on the defensive, though you may not always be successful. Don’t worry. As time goes on the results of your decision will shine through your children and skeptics will become believers.
  • Make sure your spouse is in agreement. You may be the one responsible for planning and teaching, but you will need your spouse’s support both financially and emotionally. Your children need to know Mom and Dad are united in this decision.

Now you can move on to choosing methods and books, laying out plans and making schedules. You’ve begun the journey of a lifetime!

Copyright 2010 – The Adventist Home Educator

Encouragement, Getting Started, Support Systems

The More Things Change…

houseIt is amazing to look back nearly 45 years and see what inspired a mother to make what was then considered a radical choice- to homeschool her children.   Patricia Heidenry’s article for the New York Times from 1975 –Home Is Where The School Is – is an interesting and inspiring and still relevant read.

Getting Started, Principles of True Education

Why True Education?

Why should we as Seventh-day Adventist families seek out and strive to follow the principles of True Education? First and foremost, because it follows the principles laid out in the Bible. The Bible is our sure and safe guide for educating our children. We can never go wrong if we choose to make the Bible the foundation of our homeschooling efforts. Those same ideals are amplified in the Spirit of Prophecy.

A secular educational program has individual achievement and acclaim as its goal. True Education seeks to lead our children’s hearts and minds to higher, more eternal ideals. Why settle for an education that allows a child to “…gain the whole world but lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36)?

True Education is education for the whole person. It develops not only the intellectual faculties, but also the physical and spiritual parts as well. Don’t we want our children to be fully developed in all areas of their lives? As you seek to follow the principles of True Education, it will quickly become clear that it is not simply a philosophy or curriculum, it is a way of life that will deeply enrich all aspects of your family life.

Suggested reading to learn more about True Education- available free online:
Child Guidance
Fundamentals of Christian Education
Audios, Getting Started, Parenting, Principles of True Education, Sabbath Playlist, Websites

Sabbath Playlist~ The Purpose, Privilege and Principles of Homeschooling

Considering homeschooling for the very first time?  Thinking about what homeschooling can mean for your household?  What main goal should parents be striving towards when homeschooling?  Tom and Alane Waters of Restoration International inspire and encourage in a  past talk that reminds us that Christian homeschooling is much more than just choosing curriculum.   The link below takes you to their talk hosted on Audioverse.

Click HERE for The Purpose, Privilege and Purpose of Homeschooling