December 06, 2005

Homeschooling - Starting Out

OK, so it's been a while since my blog was truly "on topic", but today, I'm going to post a whole lot of links for you moms who may be just learning of homeschooling and considering it for your family. I have a friend who's kids had a bad private school experience, and they are starting homeschool after the Christmas break (Yipee!), so I thought I would share with you what I emailed her last night. When I started homeschooling, we lived in Houston, Texas. I have a lot of links for you Houstonian and Texan Moms included in this post. So, if you are starting to homeschool in Texas, this post will be even more helpful to you!

Top Ten Things To Do When You Start Homeschooling...

by Sprittibee

1. Pray, Pray, Pray!

Remember that once you start, you'll always second guess yourself. There will be days when you wonder why you are doing it (I've had quite a few this year because of our moving and missing school days that we'll have to make up this summer). There will be days when you'll struggle just to get out of your pajamas.... but your kids will turn out wonderful and you'll still be able to have a relationship with them when they are teenagers! God is there, the whole way, if you just lay it all at His feet and remember that you can't do it on YOUR STRENGTH ALONE.

2. Join a MOM's Support Group, a Co-op, and a Homeschool Email List.

You should get with like-minded folks and listen to their war stories about how they've managed to run a household and school five to eight kids over the past fifteen years... and see their successes as little Betty Homeschool the seventeen year old can hold a conversation with you (looking you in the eye) and actually seem like she's enjoying herself. These moms are not turning out a new generation of fleshy Bratz Dolls (heaven help us!), nope... they are growing the next generation of home-makers, politicians, college professors, rocket scientists (at least Amy is), surgeons, veterinarians, and godly parents. These people's kids are usually the kind you imagine your own little Bill and Betty growing up to marry. Thank the Lord for other homeschooling moms!

To find a list, do an email search in your browser. Type in something like "My City Homeschool Email List" or "My City Homeschool Co-Op". Of course, you sub your city's name for the "My City".

If you are in Houston, Texas, you can JOIN THIS EMAIL LIST:
Greater Houston Area Home Educators (G-HAH)
They are a secular/all-inclusive group, but have many Christians also. They list all the free events and field trips going on around Houston, and you can get to know people and ask questions there.

3. Read about homeschooling.

There is a wealth of information available today about homeschooling. If you are just starting out - chances are, you aren't alone. The numbers of homeschoolers today are growing rapidly (see my previous post about Homeschooling in America Today). Gone are the days when everything was underground and police carted you off to jail for truancy. Praise the Lord! Homeschooling is becoming more and more understood and accepted all across the nation. I am listing a few interesting articles about homeschooling that will help you in your mission to convince dad that it's a good choice, ward off the criticism from nosy family members and friends, and to help you feel confident in your decision. It may take you a few months to read all of these, but bookmark the permalink for this post (click here for the link to appear in your browser, then save it as a favorite), and come back later and read them when you have time. I promise, they are great articles.

A Brief Case for Socialization
More Information than You'll Ever Need About Homeschooling
Nobel Winners Hate School
The Government Endangers Education
Socialization No Longer an Issue
Colleges Recruiting Homeschoolers
Homeschool, Or Else...
Publik Skule vs. Home School
Seceding from School

4. Join a Local Homeschool Organization/Check out Local Event Websites...

Usually, in each state, there is a homeschool organization that puts on book fairs, conventions, and even graduations and such. These types of groups are not really for meeting people, but rather just information you can use to help you in your journey. There is usually a small fee and it gets you in the door at events. They will most likely send out a newsletter that has all the upcoming event information, advertisements, and helpful articles. There are also helpful websites that will display local events and co-op opportunities. You can search for them the same way you search for co-ops and email lists (see #2).

If you live in Texas, some of these links might be helpful:
(over 90 support groups listed here)
(Gulf Coast - Houston)
(South Texas - San Antonio)
South West Dallas Home School Association (SWDHSA)

I could go on and on... but you get the point... these links are not that hard to find if you just do some keyword searches on your browser.

5. GO to a book fair or convention.

It is priceless to hear the speakers at homeschool conventions. I used to just go and browse all the materials in the main building - drooling over curriculums I couldn't afford and countless books I wanted. Then I discovered that the book fairs are really about encouraging and equipping mom through listening to the speakers they provide. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will walk away with a mission.

My favorite Texas Book Fair is the Arlington Book Fair. I would HIGHLY recommend it if you live anywhere within four or five hours of Arlington, Texas (between Dallas and Fort Worth). I used to drive up there from Houston (four hours away). Another added plus to attending the Arlington Book Fair is that usually, Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington has a Homeschool Day (the lines are shorter than usual), and you can make both events in the same week. For more information about either, visit their individual websites. If you are not on a homeschool email list, you might not find out about the homeschool-only event (on the website it usually lists it as a CLOSED to the public event, without a name).

6. If you are worried about legalities, or live in an area that is hostile or difficult to homeschool because of public perception or school officials, please join the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

The membership fee is a bit high, but it gets you discounts on homeschooling materials and conferences, and also provides legal services for free if the truancy officers, school officials, or nosy neighbors bother you or try and turn you in to CPS. They also have wonderful state-by-state legal summaries of the laws regarding each state's stance on homeschooling and upcoming legislative watches.

There are other groups like this one, but this is the most well-known. If you know of another great group that champions homeschoolers rights, please leave the link in my comments section to share with others who might be searching!

7. Visit a homeschool book store.

The people who work in these stores are usually either homeschoolers or previous homeschool veterans. They offer a wonderful variety of curriculums, books, and educational supplies. Some times it helps to go and look at curriculums without the pressure of "sales people" such as you would experience at the book fair. There are also books and articles that compare different curriculums that you can read. You can also get ideas from the various catalogues that sell homeschool curriculums and supplies which you can get through the mail or visit online. A few of them are linked in my side-bar. One of my favorites is Vision Forum.

Two Houston Homeschool Book Stores that I visited when we were in Houston are:
Love 2 Learn (Tomball)
The Homeschool Store (Northwest)

8. Choose your curriculum.

There is so much to pick from, that it can be overwhelming. Everyone has their own ideas about what is best for them (and they will be sure to tell you about it). The best thing to do is to know your goals. What is your main mission in educating your kids? What are the most important characteristics you want them to have when they grow up? What skills do they need to work on now? What are their learning types and personality types? Do you have any special needs? These are questions that will help you narrow your search. There are websites, articles, book stores, book fairs, speakers, and books that can help you in this quest. It would take me all day to research the links, so I'll leave that up to you. My strongest suggestion in this area (besides PRAYER - see #1) is to get with a homeschooling family who has been homeschooling a while and sit down over coffee with the mom (or dad if he's the main teacher), and DISCUSS what they do, and what you are looking for. Chances are, God has placed the perfect seed in that person which they, in turn, can share with you... and it will produce a garden of ideas and a crop of educational success.

And REMEMBER... as you grow in your homeschool journey, you can always CHANGE curriculums (even mid-semester!), change schedules, and change goals! You are a living, breathing homeschool family with changing needs each year. As you learn more, you will tweak your homeschooling and every year will be a different experience. You will find what works best for your kids as you travel the homeschooling journey together.

Here is an article about choosing curriculums from that I saved in my email box from long ago: Finding the Right Curriculum

9. Stay encouraged.

Aside from prayer and fellowship, you should remember that you aren't perfect. You should make it a point - especially at first - to read uplifting articles about homeschooling. Just about every time I get to feeling like a flop as a homeschool mom, someone will send me a link or an email that will make me feel better... or the kids will tell me they had a great time, or hug me... or someone will say "My, what well behaved kids you have!" The little things are what keep you moving forward. God is in the details. He knows just what you need. Homeschooling isn't an easy way of life - especially if you are scraping by on one income and have to sacrifice a lot of the frills that make life easier. But, in the long run, your kids will thank you... and you can always re-join the work force once they are happy, godly, successful adults!

Below, I have left you with a few links that will put a smile on your face. Chances are, if you are reading this, you already know about Homeschooling Blogs. The list of homeschooling blogs on my sidebar are also a great place to get daily inspiration (and as in the case of this blog in particular - a place to come when you want to feel like you "AREN'T THE ONLY ONE WITH PROBLEMS!"). If you are reading this and you know of some other interesting links for moms to visit for encouragement or laughter regarding homeschooling and staying at home, please leave them in my comments section for this post!

Best Homeschooling
(essays about what people wish they had have known starting out... Etc. Grab your coffee and read these with your daily devos!)

I'm Not a Radical Homeschooler

Cindy Rushton Mom 2 Mom Discussion Boards and Inspirational Articles

Also, check out the many interesting homeschool links in my sidebar!


Remember to hug your kids, kiss your kids, play with your kids, and pray with your kids. Set aside a time each day for family discussion, family reading, and family field trips or outings. Spend time with each of your kids alone. Make sure Dad has time with each of them alone as well. Take them on a kid date night. Make up a rules and rewards system. Set up chores and allowance. Give them a spot to show off their school work at home. Frame their artwork. Give them a certificate or award because they are GREAT KIDS. Laugh a lot. Enjoy your time with them. They will be grown up before you know it. That six year old will be driving and possibly WORKING in ten years. Those warm cuddly reading times on the couch will fade away. Make memories and cherish today. Take the spilled milk lightly. Pick your battles and don't fret over the small stuff.

Some of the best advice I have ever gotten is from a Konos friend. You'll have to forgive me if I misquote it... and it may have originated with Jessica Hulcy (one of the Konos brains), but I'm not sure. One day, when I was particularly frazzled, I got an email from a Konos friend who told me:

"Try and create a WARM HOT CHOCOLATE learning environment... rather than a COLD, BITTER LEMONADE one."

She went on to say that Kids learn best when they are enjoying themselves and even laughing. This is a simple way to explain it, and a nice visual... make your kids some HOT CHOCOLATE and HAVE FUN HOMESCHOOLING!

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RG said...

Sprittibee, as usual, the quality of your posts just keep going up.
We have been homeschooling for a while, as you know, but it will take me and AG, a week, just to read this awesome post and analyze all the website you linked!
As a suggestion for all new homeschoolers, as Sprittibee says, before you do ANYTHING ELSE, join the
Home School Legal Defense Association, AND the TEXAS HOME SCHOOL COALITION, you will be glad you did !
Hey, Sprittibee I noticed you are making a progress with your "TODO List",
and did you notice you are (again) a LARGE MAMMAL ?
(She is going to kill me for this... I better run !)

Sprittibee said...

You are too kind. You guys are awesome, and your kids are, too. I remember being so amazed at F for how she was so close to her mother even in her teenish years. I hope Morgan grows up to be like her! I forgot to link THSC - thanks for the reminder! Yes, I'm sllllllllooooooooowly making my way up the list... and should honestly be doing that instead of visiting my comments section... thanks for the reminder on that as well. I didn't notice that my blog was a large mammal, just that I WAS! Too many Christmas cookies and slices of holiday deserts.

Oh, well... I had better get back to my list. Give my love to the Gs.

rich glasgow said...

Excellent post, Heather. It's worthy of publication somewhere. Keep up the good work!

Sprittibee said...

Thank you, Rich. :) I left a note at your site. I always enjoy your posts, too.

Lynnatbeach said...

Hi. I just read Homeschooling-Starting Out. I really could have used your advice and the information you provided 4 years ago!
Although I am not "starting out",it sure feels that way sometimes.
I checked out your suggested links to put a smile on your face. "Best" and "Not Radical" share an Unschooling approach.
How have you blended Unschooling into Konos ?
I am interested because the more I read about Unschooling, the more I appreciate the way unschooling does not seperate life from learning.
Konos shares the learning all the time philosophy, but with a planned curriculum.
Any thoughts?
Lynn in Florida

Sprittibee said...

Thanks for stopping in to read "Homeschooling-Starting Out", Lynn. I could have used the advice when I started 4 years ago, too! It is all a learning process - for each of us!
I have my moments (sometimes daily) when I second-guess myself also. I think even veteran homeschoolers can look back and wish they had done things differently in one area or another. Parenting and Homeschooling are as unique and individual as each of us are. We are not really "Unschooling", but I'm really not sure what we are doing - as far as terminology is considered. We do "KONOS" and have always thought of it as a UNIT STUDY and Christian Character guide... and we add Math and Language worksheets, some geography and extra Science stuff, some extra reading for our own interests, writing to pen pals and anything else that we think will help us become better, smarter, and more happy learners! As for the computer, we do typing regularly, but other educational games have taken a back seat this year. I read a little about Unschooling, but I really feel that with any program, you can include life and learning. I find it almost comical sometimes that someone would ask advice of ME. I'm hardly the one who could tell you the difference between unschooling, classical homeschooling, unit studies or boxed curriculum. I just talk about what we've done and how well it has worked for us. I'm still learning with all the rest of you! :) Thanks for commenting!


Excellent list and resources! This will be very helpful to new homeschoolers and those that are struggling.


Sprittibee said...

Thanks Gena! ;)

Michelle said...


You have SO inspired me! I found you through your KONOS planner post and am amazed at how much online inforrmation, inspiration and support is out there for a homeschooling mom. For similar reasons to yours, we are choosing to homeschool our boys, and next year will be Ben's Kindergarten year (Jack is only 2). I have a planner personality (flybaby too -- though I barely flutter sometimes), and I need to have a plan so when the inevitable "stall" comes, we can get back on track. I love the idea of KONOS, but I haven't found any moms in my area that use it. One step (and prayer) at a time, right? Thanks for everything (in advance).

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Michelle. :) Are you the same Michelle I have been talking with this week via email? Anyway... have fun doing KONOS. Your kids will thank you!

Melissa said...

What wonderful advice! Thank you. I wanted to share some of my own. If you have beginning readers then you should check out It has a wealth of research on phonemic awareness, beginning letter recognition, beginning letter sounds, and letter writing. There are also a ton of wonderful lessons and games.

Anonymous said...

Sprittibee, the information you give is very helpfull. I am new at homeschool. I have many questions, but you already answered many of them. I have two daughters, one is thirteen, and the other eight years old. I will visit this site pretty soon. Thanks.

cheap storage arlington said...

The bookfair is still around in case some of you haven't been there in a while. This is now the third child my wife and I have attended this book fair with. For home schoolers I think the extra social stuff is important.



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