7 Characteristics of a Healthy Homeschool

My pastor’s sermon on Sunday was entitled “How to Recognize a Real Church“.  It stuck with me this week and made me consider our homeschool family and how we could improve our health.  I think you can apply his message to almost anything.  I borrowed his first 4 characteristics, applying it to our homeschooling, and then added my own.  (Did I mention, I love my church?)

Even after 15 years, I most certainly do not have homeschooling all figured out and fall miserably short most days. But I do know that when certain characteristics  come together; our love, our attitudes, and our camaraderie blossom.

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7 Characteristics of a healthy homeschool:

1-   Your homeschool is Founded on Christ.  I used to make fun of homeschoolers. When God was asking me to teach my kids, I knew He must have a sense of humor.  We would not be homeschooling if I did not feel called.  The leap of faith and focus on Christ is the reason for our successes.  It is not because of anything I have done alone.  The most common thing people (who find out I homeschool) comment to me is,   “I don’t know how you homeschool. I would never have the patience.”  And I say, “Neither do I.  But He does.”  Sometimes our dependency on Him is day to day and other times it is minute to minute.

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2-  Your homeschool is Focused on Scripture.  There are many ways to implement this:

  • Give your homeschool a Bible verse, a scripture focus.  Determine what you want your school to stand for and decide on this verse as a family.   Our school name is Veritas which is the Latin word for truth.  Our school verse is:
    And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. John 8:32  I feel very cheated by my public school education and the inconsistencies I learned.  I want to change that for my kids.
  • Begin each day with recitation.  Lately, I have been trying to pick verses that speak to something I (or we) struggle with.  This semester it has been worry.   All of us are memorizing Matthew 6:25-35.  Watching kids breathe scripture will blow your mind.
  • Read the Bible every day.  We use Sonlight and follow its scheduled Bible reading.  My older girls read on their own now.  I once knew a mom who did this early in her homeschool and after 2 or 3 years, she had read the entire Bible aloud to her children.  Imagine that. My oldest is finishing reading 1/2 the Bible this year and will begin the 2nd half in her senior year.  I wish I had read the entire Bible at 17.  I manipulated on-line Bible readings into two-36 week schedules, for free.  (If you would like to use it, email me.) Purpose it ahead of time.  Think now for next year.
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3-  Your homeschool has the Freedom to Fail.  This is a must. If the curriculum doesn’t work for you or your children, give it up and try something new.  Life is too short for headaches and tears.

We all make mistakes.  Make it okay for your child to fail.  My girls are perfectionists.  (I wonder where they got that from?) They’d get angry when they were unable to draw a perfect picture or when they didn’t understand fractions.  I get frustrated too.  It is my goal to make it safe to make mistakes in our home.  Our pastor gave a great analogy about allowing this in our church and it is a revolutionary idea.

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  Brene Brown

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4-  You are Flexible in the Non-essentials.  This is one I struggle with.  Sometimes we need to put away the math and deal with character issues.  Is the spilt sticky cereal really that tragic in the scheme of things?  At times, I expect my kids to perform chores as adults when I haven’t trained them properly in the first place. Is perfection the goal or is it more important that they obeyed?  And is a clean house always realistic?

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5–You and your children Forgive Liberally.  Focus on grace.

Some days I feel like I am apologizing all day and the act of asking for forgiveness is humbling.  Over the years I have seen my kids apologizing and admitting their mistakes to me and each other.  I can see the Holy Spirit moving during times like these.

I have learned a good 3 step apology recently.

  • Ask for forgiveness and be as specific as possible. Rather than say, “I am sorry I was mean”,  try “I am sorry I yelled at you”.
  • Tell the offended that, “In the future, I will try not to do this again.”  Mean it.
  • And finally ask, “Will you forgive me?” (Not, “I’m sorry.”)

This has helped us do away with insincere apologies and promotes authentic forgiveness.

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6-  Your homeschool Fosters a Spirit of Giving.  Nothing we have done as a homeschool has blessed us more than volunteering.  Starting a nursing home ministry, helping with One 7, and giving our time are all ways to encourage a spirit of giving.

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7-  Lastly,  Your Homeschool is Faithful.  Take the decision to homeschool a year at a time with earnest prayer and the expectation of an answer.  Teach your kids to have a big faith amidst trials in your family life during the year.  This is one of the most powerful ways to teach faith and trust.  Some days we pray on the spot.  I am not always the best example.

Fortunately, God gives us grace to get up and try again.

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“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

What characteristics would you add?

 

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