can you begin Home
by Jessica Hulcy
The best way to begin home schooling is to activate the five-letter word
START. So often, parents who truly desire to teach their children at
home say, "I am not trained. I am not smart enough. I will ruin my
If God places a burden on a person's heart, He will provide the means to
accomplish that burden. The same God who provided manna and quail for
the Israelites in the desert will surely provide parents with the
skills, knowledge, direction, and, yes, even patience to teach their own
children, if they desire.
Once parents trust, where do they begin?
Most parents begin by attending a book fair to shop for curriculum. This
is akin to grocery shopping for the entire year without a list or a menu
plan. Instead of standing at a vendor's table asking how much a
particular curriculum costs, parents would be better served sitting at
home talking about each child, setting individual goals and objectives
for them. Public and private school teachers face a classroom of twenty
to thirty students, making it very difficult to individualize. Since
most home-schooling families are slightly smaller than that, it is
possible to tailor each child's curriculum to him.
Every year, my husband and I set goals in four areas for each of our
children. They are academic skills, physical skills, work skills, and
character/spiritual development goals. Home school allows the whole
child to be taught in every aspect of his life, not purely academically.
The people who love the child the very most (the parents) plot a game
plan for their child based on what the state requires a class to cover
collectively. The scope and sequence is the state's 12-year game plan
for what will be taught (scope) and when it will be taught (sequence) to
students. Public and private schools must follow the scope and sequence
exactly, because students are constantly changing teachers.
Adapt Academic Scope
In home school, there is a single teacher who can certainly keep track
of what each child has covered. This allows greater flexibility with the
sequence. Why wait until 7th grade to teach Texas history if you are
going on a family trip around Texas? I have successfully taught Texas
history to a 4th grader, a 7th grader, and a 9th grader. Flexible
sequencing takes advantage of all life's events.
Home-school parents should first set goals, second recognize the scope,
and finally choose curriculum. Parents often remark of their own
education, that although they made good grades, they actually remember
little. How sad to have spent all that time covering material, yet not
learning. Most parents' education consisted of reading the chapter and
answering questions at the end. When choosing curriculum, parents should
consider which methods foster better learning.
1. Consider Curriculum Methods
One need not be an educational expert to recognize that multi-sensory,
hands-on curriculum bombards the child with information through all his
senses, thereby increasing retention. However, if a child needs drill
with spelling or math facts, parents should select workbooks that give
ample opportunity to practice until perfect. Parents should never use a
whole workbook; rather, they should assign only those pages the child
needs and toss the rest of the workbook. Tailoring curriculum adheres to
the child's needs, not the next workbook page.
2. Consider Curriculum Content
Equally important as curriculum methods is curriculum content. Most home
schoolers want curriculum taught from a Christian worldview, yet they
are unsure what that entails. Many curricula tout a Christian worldview,
because they have sprinkled Bible verses here and there, or they have
included the life of Christ in their history. However, a Christian
worldview involves training children in the process of sifting all of
life's learning and decisions through a Christian worldview sieve. The
worldview sieve is constructed from sound Biblical teaching designed to
train students in "taking every thought captive to the obedience of
Christ." Curriculum that follows the Hebrew model of training the heart
instead of the Greek model of training the head formulates such a sieve.
3. Consider Curriculum That Mentors
Finally, parents need to select a curriculum that involves them as a
mentor/teacher who dialogues with their child rather than simply grades
his papers. This dialogue process not only builds critical thinkers, but
also builds the ultimate goal of home schooling - a lifetime
relationship between parent and child.
Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Character Curriculum, has home
schooled her four boys, with her husband Wade, for the last 20 years.
Jessica writes curriculum, contributes magazine articles, and speaks
nationally. Information about KONOS is available at P.O. Box 250, Anna,
Texas 75409, at (972) 924-2712, or at www.konos.com.