I've used all sorts of curriculum, confessing to be somewhat of a curriculum junkie. I'm certain that whatever curriculum you choose, we'll all be okay in the end. For me homeschooling is a means to the heart of my children.
Here are a few lessons I have learned over the years. Their not in order.
1. Write out a family mission statement. Think backwards. What kind of child do I want to turn out into the world when they go off to college? Who has God made these children to be? What are their gifts and talents that I need to help nurture? Together with your husband, write this out. This will be an anchor through the years. When you look outside and wish there was a schoolbus to take your kids somewhere else..... When you're fighting with your child over learning to read or doing math, or whatever it is that is hard! Or when your son has decided not to ask Mom about math because he has come to the truth that Mom has forgotten it all and she's been faking it all these years! :)
2. Keep a good sense of humor. Don't let today cloud your whole view of the past or the future. Learn to laugh in the moment and remind your children to do the same. If we can laugh in the hard times, then surely it won't be so bad.
3. Keep a good group of friends around you who share the same vision and heart for their children. While they may not be in the same city as you, find a way to stay in touch. You'll need encouragement in the journey and so will they.
4. Don't worry too much about whether you are choosing the right or wrong curriculum. I'm convinced that most of the stuff out there advertised on Rainbow Resource or CBD are fine. They may not always be the most interesting curriculum but they'll be okay.
5. Don't panic. If you find yourself in the middle of the year and strongly disliking the curriculum you've chosen or you find that your kids strongly dislike it, just change it. No worries. Just keep going. That's one of the reasons you've chosen homeschooling. There is a freedom to change things up!
6. Don't compare. Others will choose different things, different classes, different academic levels, to skip their children, to hold their children back, to push them. Some will be extremely creative and everything is fun and hands-on. Others will choose to give their kids independence and be more hands-off. Who has the Lord made you to be? Do you need a more hands-on curriculum? Do you need a more workbook(y) curriculum? Do you need a DVD curriculum where the kids can watch a teacher and learn from them? You don't have to be the most organized mom to homeschool! If that were the case, I'd have lost my job years ago!!!
7. Remember why you are homeschooling. Some of you will be doing it because you have to. But if you have to why not then decide to do it for other reasons, too? I want my kids' hearts. I'm after them and I'm pursuing them like a lion. How's your heart? these questions I ask daily. They know that they have to answer. Sometimes they give me deep answers and I am given a glimpse into their hearts. Most of the time it's just my way of reminding them that above all else, I just want them to learn to love God and learn to love others. Homeschooling's one of the ways we're going to get there.
8. Don't get too stressed out by your plans. Write out your lesson plans in pencil. That way you can change it! Sometimes I've written down the lesson plan after the fact just to note what we've done!
My favorite planner is the Well Planned Day. It has enough boxes for 4 children, filled with verses and good encouraging articles. www.homeeducatingfamily.com
9. Take time to be with Jesus. I need it. It's a must. The longer I do this the longer my times with the Lord are. I'm taking half day for reflection and prayer each week. Without it, I'm not a very good Mommy, wife, or ministry partner. It's not luxurious. It's necessary. Take care of yourself. We're in it for the long haul. Parenting, that is.
10. End your year with reflection with the kids. Sit down with them and ask them about the year. Highs and lows. Hard times and surprises. Even ask them what they wish they could have done differently, and what they wish mom could have done differently. Have them reflect on lessons learned. Reflect back to them how you've seen them grow and even add the things that you'd like them to continue to grow in. Then celebrate! Celebrate another year has passed and they have learned and we are growing. That is a gift!
11. Look at your children. Study them. Enjoy them. They are a gifts to us. It's challenging to remember that in the busyness and in the hard of homeschooling. That makes it even more necessary. It's not just about finishing the work. These days are ticking away quickly and we'll never get them back. Have fun!