Homeschooling 101

This article is courtesy of ParentLife magazine.

Does the idea of homeschooling intimidate you? We assure you that it can be done with integrity and joy. It is an exciting journey, full of twists and turns, but the rewards are priceless. How do you begin? There are six critical areas to consider

1. Why Homeschool?

Families cite many reasons for choosing homeschooling.

  • Preserving family faith and values. Faced with the many forces in today's culture, time and energy invested in your children is the most effective way to instill your beliefs.
  • Academic excellence. The research in this area is impressive, proving that homeschoolers consistently score higher than public school peers on academic assessments.1
  • Distinct social advantages. Children who spend most of their time with other children become dependent on them. Homeschooling affords unique freedom and opportunity for children to interact with people of all ages.
  • Differences in cognitive development. Maybe your child learns differently. Homeschooling affords the ability to tailor a program to meet your child's unique needs.

2. Commitment Level

Do you plan to homeschool throughout the learning years or only for a few years? If homeschooling for only a year, you will want to tailor your curriculum choices to correspond with that of the public schools so that re-entry will go smoothly. A long-term homeschooler will look at goals over the long haul, asking instead, "What will my child need for college and life?"

Look carefully at your time commitments. If you work part time, that will have an impact on the time available for lesson planning. If your spouse is available to help on the weekends or evenings, this also will make a difference when examining the options.

3. Choosing an Approach

There are several approaches to homeschooling.

  • Traditional. This approach uses textbooks and workbooks and is structured much like a school. Materials are available from publishers such as A Beka Books® (, BJU Press (, Christian Liberty Academy School System (, and Alpha Omega Publications® (
  • Classical. This method teaches the tools of learning and recognizes that the cognitive ability to learn falls into three distinct phases, called the Trivium. A classic book to read in this area is The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2004).
  • Charlotte Mason and Living Books. This approach follows the teachings of Charlotte Mason, a turn-of-the-century British educator who favored giving children the best sources of knowledge, which she called living books. A helpful book in this area is A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Company, 1998).
  • Unit studies. Unit studies takes a topic and delves into it over a period of time, incorporating history, science, fine arts, Bible, character, and more. KONOS ( is one of the first and finest suppliers of unit studies.
  • Eclectic approach. This approach uses some of this and a little of that to build a well-rounded program. Most homeschoolers seem to fit this profile.
  • Unschooling. Unschooling is based on the work of John Holt, who believed in a nonstructured approach, allowing the child to pursue his own interests. Books related to this approach include Mary Griffith's The Unschooling Handbook (Three Rivers Press, 1998) and Mary Hood's The Relaxed Home School (Ambleside Educational Press, 1994).

4. Curriculum

Once you know your approach, you can buy appropriate materials. Yearly state conventions have helpful vendor halls and information is available online to help you choose as well. Visit for product reviews.

5. Get Prepared

Consider purchasing desks or bookshelves. Your task might be as simple as clearing out a corner of the kitchen and buying some school supplies. Take the children along on a special shopping trip to get them enthused and invested.

6. Dive in!

If it is in your heart to homeschool, take the plunge. Your whole family will be blessed.

Christine and Mark Field live and have homeschooled their four children in Wheaton, Illinois, where Mark serves as Chief of Police. They are the authors of Homeschooling 101 (B&H, 2007). Christine has written six other books on issues of parenting and homeschooling. To learn more about the Fields, visit their Web site at

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