Have you ever thought about homeschooling your kid?
These days, the public school system environment and the curriculum being taught in its classrooms is becoming increasingly dismissive of the Biblical worldview and is, in many ways, actively working to program your kid into an anti-Kingdom culture. So it's no surprise that there has been an uptick in the number of faith-filled Christians considering homeschooling for their kids. But here's the thing . . .
Most don't think they can do it. Visit any of the thousands of homeschooling groups on Facebook and you'll find tons of discussions around the doubts and concerns parents have as they consider whether they can really bring their kids home and be their primary teacher. So, what are those doubts?
From thinking they don't have the time or that they can't both homeschool their kids and hold down a job at the same time to doubting they actually have the level of experience or skill or knowledge to be able to teach their own kids successfully, parents can start to feel overwhelmed and scared at even just the idea of homeschooling. And then you throw in the notion that maybe their kids won't get appropriate “socialization” (a full-on myth), and it can start to feel like making the move to homeschooling is simply impossible.
But what if I told you it's easier than you think and that a lot of the doubts you might have are actually based on misconceptions? And that the rest of the fears or hurdles can be dealt with if we just take it step by step? Listen, if you've ever thought about homeschooling your kid — even for a hot second — I want to encourage you to lean into this episode and let me share some things I've learned after homeschooling my own kids for the last four years. I'm no expert, but I do have some thoughts that might just help to get you past the doubts, fears and hurdles so you can make a solid decision based on what God's plan is for your own family. If you're ready to consider what it might take to homeschool your own kid (and if you really can do it), grab your journal and a pen, and . . . Let's Go!
What you will learn in this episode:
- Why now is really the time to consider whether or not you should be homeschooling your kid;
- My story of becoming a homeschool parent, despite the fact that I was one hundred percent certain it wasn't for me and I wasn't going to do it;
- What the different options are when it comes to homeschooling and some of the features of each option;
- A review of the general hurdles/objections to homeschooling along with my signature “kick in the pants” for how to get past them; and
- What to do if you decide to keep your kid enrolled in public school so you can ensure you retain authority and control over what narrative they are receiving and what worldview they are being taught via their education.
Scripture References mentioned in this episode:
Proverbs 22:6 —
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Genesis 15:6 —
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Links to Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Links to some helpful blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. where you can find some basic, practical information about getting started:
Homeschool.com has a really great Getting Started page where you can peruse the most frequently asked questions about homeschool, an explanation of the different methods of homeschooling, a guide to the state-by-state rules for homeschooling and even a curriculum finder tool (although, in my opinion, the tool is a bit overwhelming if you're just starting out, so don't go there if you're subject to being spooked at this stage of the game).
YouTube can seriously be a great source for finding information when you're considering how to get started with homeschooling. I don't have any preferred videos to recommend when it comes to getting started, but I DO recommend heading over to YouTube and searching “getting started with homeschooling” and then just going down that rabbit hole a bit. Once you've watched three or four videos, you'll start to see the pattern that emerges. Some of the themes you are likely to find are:
- There is no “right” or “wrong” way to homeschool. It's going to be a function of how your kids learn best and how your family flows best in terms of time commitment and general house schedule.
- You'll want to understand your home state/county guidelines and rules around homeschooling in your area.
- You can do this! There are tons of free resources out there to help you get started and to be successful in homeschooling, whichever method or flow you choose for your family.
Helpful links if you're looking to get started with homeschooling in the state of Florida/Hillsborough County:
Hillsborough Country Home Education Information: This is where you will find general information about submitting intent to homeschool, as well as the actual forms you will need to begin and sustain your homeschool year after year. The site also has a Resources section which provides some additional information around virtual school options and also how to satisfy the portfolio review requirement if you choose to go that way.
Here's where you can find the homeschooling guidelines for the state of Florida. The homeschooling statute for the state can be found here as well as information around things like dual-enrollment and various support programs available to parents.
Links to various homeschooling coops and communities, just so you can get a peek at what it could look like:
My family belongs to Classical Conversations, a faith-based, classical style homeschool learning community. We've participated for the last four years and absolutely love it. To get started with this method, simply have a look around the website and then perform a Community Search. The search will return a list of CC communities in your area. You then have the opportunity to reach out to the community director who can arrange time with you to sit down and discuss the program and your family's needs. One thing I love about Classical Conversations is that it has learning groups through the high school years and the programs they offer at these levels, in my opinion, far exceed what is being offered in today's public school environments.
One of the best ways to find a homeschool coop or community in your area is to search the groups on Facebook. I belong to one called Tampa Bay Homeschool Families and it's a very active and supportive community. Homeschool community groups on Facebook tend to be very interactive and collaborative, and it's one of the best things I've found on Facebook, in all honesty. The parents there are so very helpful and there's a general atmosphere of wanting to contribute so every family has a really good chance to succeed. I spent a good amount of time perusing these communities in the beginning as I was making my start-up decision. If you're feeling on the fence or need a good dose of courage and confidence, go search some Facebook homeschool groups in your area.
Here's an example of a virtual homeschooling academy where the student would be technically homeschooled but the curriculum would be sourced and taught from an online platform:
Liberty University Online Academy — This is an arrangement where you would actually enroll your student in a full-time online program and the academy would organize all the curriculum and even the online teaching. There is a cost to it, but it is pretty reasonable when compared to other private teaching alternatives.
There are also tons of online teaching platforms that offer more a-la-carte options, and these would be approached more like you would a tutor or a support program for a particular subject or skill-set. These would include programs like ABC Mouse or Khan Academy. We have found these sorts of services to be more “supplemental” to what we are doing in our homeschool. They don't satisfy the full spectrum of a child's learning needs, generally speaking, and you would still need to outline an overall curriculum plan and goals for your child.
Links to the curriculum we use in our own homeschooling journey:
Okay, so this could get a little out of hand if I don't keep it short and sweet, so I'm just going to keep it to a bulleted list of the few things we use —
The Good & The Beautiful: We have absolutely LOVED this curriculum for our youngest. We've used their handwriting and language arts for him from Kindergarten through 2nd grade so far, and it's been great. We've also used the science programs for all three of our boys and each program they offer has expansion packs so the lessons really can span from littles all the way up to around 8th grade. Their History courses are story-based and interactive for all ages. And we've used their electives, as well, specifically the typing courses.
Saxon Math: My boys do tremendously with the classic, spiral teaching provided inside of Saxon math, but I've come to learn through chats with fellow homeschooling parents that it's not for every kid. There are tons of programs out there to teach math, though, and each is slightly different based on the methodology. I would suggest looking at all the homeschool math options available on christianbook.com to see what's out there. Each option tends to have a good overview of how math is taught and may even include some sample pages or lessons so you can see if it would work for your student. In many cases there's also a placement test available so you can place your child in the right level.
Classical Conversations: As mentioned previously, we are part of a homeschool community called Classical Conversations, and much of the curriculum we use is curated through the program. English grammar and writing for our 4th grade and above students, for example, is covered with the curriculum within the CC program. As the student heads into the Challenge programs (7th-12th grades), most of the curriculum is provided within the program. To purchase certain resources from Classical Conversations you will need to provide your membership information as some of the curriculum is proprietary to the program.
YouTube and Facebook homeschool groups are going to be the best place to get help and suggestions around which curriculum to use within your homeschool. Just go on a little bit of a journey in those two places and you'll start to get a feel for what could work well for you. I should note, this is the place where most new homeschool parents get bogged down. So let me tell you this: Don't put too much stress on picking out the “perfect” curriculum. It isn't the curriculum that's going to drive the best experience. It's the relationship between you and your kid as you steward them through the learning experience that's going to drive the experience. I didn't learn this until about 2 years in, so hopefully this can save you some stress.
Examples of tutors/learning coaches that can help to enrich your child in their learning experience and help to carry the load of homeschooling with you:
These sorts of resources may be very specific to the area you live in, but there are online platforms like Prodigy that offer online math tutoring to help support your student's learning journey if they need a bit more focused help. A simple internet search will offer up various options for online tutoring at fairly reasonable rates. Check out TutorEye as an example.
As I mentioned in the episode, one of the best ways to get support for your child's learning is to join a coop where other parents are participating in the teaching. That way, each parent can teach the group in subjects they are familiar with and confident in, while leaving the teaching of a topic they aren't so sharpened in to another parent. It's a great way to share the load.
Finally, you may want to check those Facebook groups again to see about local, in-person tutoring or learning coach options. Here in Tampa, Florida we have access to a company called Ascend Academics. Jessica Chapman, the founder and lead learning coach, helps students to succeed using various personalized learning maps. Some of her students are virtual schooling using the county or the state's curriculums and programs and other of her students are homeschooled and receive her coaching to enrich their skills in things like reading or writing. She's also certified to work with children who've had individualized learning plans and may need additional assistance in the classroom. To find out more about the services and programs Ascend offers to both traditionally schooled and homeschooled students, simply contact Ms Chapman via the Send Message button on the Ascend page.
Erica co-leads a local church alongside her husband, Doug, in Tampa, Florida called REVIVE Church of Tampa. You can visit the church's website for more information about who we are, what we believe and how we show up as the Church in the heart of West Tampa and beyond.
REVIVE Church of Tampa streams services live on Friday nights at 7pm ET and Sunday mornings at 11am ET. You can find those livestreams on our church Facebook page:
If you're interested in joining the online campus of REVIVE Church of Tampa, you are welcome to join our community group on Facebook where we offer weekly discussion around the Friday and Sunday messages as well as discipleship Zoom groups and the opportunity to host others in your home as you stream services. You can find us here:
About this podcast:
Positioned to Prosper is a weekly podcast that covers the ins and outs of what it means to live a lifestyle of breakthrough and victory in your relationships, health, finances and beyond. Your host, Erica Pyle, is no stranger to jumping without the proverbial parachute while maintaining a firm grip on godly wisdom. A self-described slayer of pragmatism and a “walk by faith” kind of girl, Erica is an unabashed believer in the power of God to radically transform lives. Front-footed in faith as she offers straight-up truth, strategies, and wisdom for living victoriously, and equipped with her love for the word of God, her certification as a holistic health coach, and years of experience in personal finance and taxation, Erica is ready to help you get positioned to prosper.