4 Action Items to Help Your Homeschool Last More Than 4 Years
Davis Carman provides an action item for years one through four of your homeschooling to help you make it through the graduation of your last homeschool student.
A man plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps. — Proverbs 16:9
The great castles of old are . . . well, old. Most have been around for 700 to 1,000 years. If you think of your family’s home school as a castle, how long do you envision it lasting? Will your children homeschool your grandkids? Will your grandchildren homeschool your great-grandkids? What about the generation after that?
Scripture tells us that the Lord shows faithful love to a thousand generations to those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:6). A thousand generations? That’s a long time! The fact is, you can have a pretty significant and positive impact on your descendants by loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength now. Wouldn’t it be great if you were to persevere in homeschooling until your children graduated, and then your own children and grandchildren continued in the lifestyle?
Research by the state of North Carolina shows that roughly twenty percent of new homeschooling families stop after the first year (www.ncdnpe.org). Another twenty percent drop out of home education after year two, with ten percent walking away after year three. By year four, an additional five percent exit, and the curve starts to level off. The end result is that fewer than half of families who start homeschooling continue beyond the fourth year. Clearly, building on these homeschool “castles” had barely begun.
I won’t lie to you: Homeschooling is hard work. It takes perseverance and determination to stay the course. And there are no guarantees that yours will last twenty years, let alone four.
I am a strong proponent of home education. Our family has been at it for twenty-two years, and I want to see you succeed for a long time. So allow me to offer four action items to help you build a homeschool that will stand the test of time — much like an old castle.
Action Item for Year One: Go to a Homeschool Conference
This is my number one piece of advice for new homeschooling families. Rachael and I were reluctant homeschoolers—I like to say God got us started with a providential two-by-four over the head. Our first year was so rocky that it seems impossible that we ever made it to a second year. But we found ourselves at a conference in North Carolina at the end of that first year. We attended several workshops, and it was as though a light bulb suddenly turned on in our heads. We drove home totally inspired to give this homeschooling thing a second chance.
Action Item for Year Two: Wipe the Slate Clean
I’m very happy for families who experience a relatively smooth first year of homeschooling. But even if you made it through that inaugural year with an optimistic attitude, you’ll probably encounter some rocky roads during year two. When this happens, I highly recommend you wipe the slate clean in terms of scheduling and curriculum.
This is the year to feel the freedom and take ownership of your calendar. You are in charge. So take a week off every four to six weeks. Take a couple of months off when a baby is born to “do family.” Join Dad on a business trip to do some educational sightseeing. Allow the flexibility of homeschooling to be a blessing.
Regarding curriculum, know ahead of time that you will probably have to discard $500 worth of curriculum until you find the one that works best for you and your kids. The good news is that you don’t have to force something to work if it just doesn’t. Remember, crying is not the objective. Go easy on yourself and your children. Find something that works and makes learning enjoyable.
Action Item for Year Three: Relax and Enjoy Your Kids
Although I would encourage you to relax during both years one and two, the third year is the time to resist any urges you have to become obsessive or compulsive about making “plans” for your home school. Why? Because this is a walk of faith, and although it’s fine to make plans, remember that God will direct your steps (Proverbs 16:9). So don’t resist His divine adjustments.
Your kids are unique. They are individuals. Each is different from his or her siblings. Not only is each child different from the others, but every year will look different from the next. Your kids are a year older, and they need new responsibilities. No doubt there will be a few tears, frustrations, stops and starts, and the occasional need for plenty of tender, loving care.
Make sure you try to relax and enjoy your kids this year. You will need to learn all over again how to enjoy them every year, so let this year be the one in which it becomes an annual occurrence.
Action Item for Year Four: Put Some Things in Writing
I really want to challenge you to complete this action item and put a few things in writing during year four. By this time, you probably have an educational philosophy, whether you realize it or not. Working to articulate it in writing will help you tremendously. You might find yourself writing words like Charlotte Mason, literature-based, Christ-centered, classical, hands-on, workbooks, unit studies, or eclectic.
Other things to document include your family values and educational goals. These lists might include items like relationships, Bible, reasoning, resolve, life skills, rigor, relevance, reading, writing, science, math, music, or technical skills.
So how many years has your home school lasted to date? What is the most important action item you took that helped you make it this far? The statistics show that a little less than half of those who start homeschooling are still in the game after four years. So if those first few years are rough, please persevere and don’t give up. After all, if you can just make it to year four, then “you’re in the club.” Along with the millions of families already on this journey, I’m rooting for you. Who knows? Yours just might last as long as those castles of old.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2017 Davis Carman
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!