Your homeschool has suddenly expanded. Grown large. Overwhelming, too.
I sit here on this side of my little laptop and you are there, facing a future that seems large and crazy and probably absolutely the nuttiest thing you could ever have been handed. And whether all these children came your way because you had been planning and hoping for them for ages, or if they came into your home because of some tragic and trying circumstance, you are embarking on something bigger than life.
I came to my noisy homeschool with 8 busy children gradually, and I have had the advantage of building, student by student, curriculum by curriculum, year by year. You, my friend, have been thrown into the fire and I know you're not unaware.
I feel for you, and I want you to remember that you are not alone. You have a God who has promised to never leave you nor forsake you, and even if you end up sitting cross-legged in the corner of your closet crying for the better part of the afternoon, you are not alone. He will pull you through.
2003- Back when they'd actually wear matching clothes
This year I am living the hardest part of my so-far 16 years of homeschooling my kids. Daily, I have to remind myself that God loves me. That He is here, right here, in the midst of graduating a college senior, graduating a high school senior, overseeing a high school sophomore, weighing educational options for a math and science-minded 8th grader, loving on an extremely domestic 6th grader, directing a distracted 4th grader, teaching a kindergartener to read, and navigating life with a brain-injured four-year-old.
It seems doable until I read that last paragraph.
Then I wonder about my sanity, taking on all of this. Not unlike you?
And so, back to that thing about God loving me. This is a pivotal point to remember, because when we are living as if we are loved (and we are so loved), then all sorts of things are possible. We are free to give what we have of ourselves and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the God who loves us perfectly is picking up the pieces we've dropped everywhere and filling in the gaping holes.
Don't forget: you are loved. So much so that He took all of your frailties and nailed them to a cross thousands of years ago. And then, before He died in your place, He declared, "It is finished." He has done the work, and He will do the work, and we need only to keep our eyes on the One who loves us most. All the gaping holes are filled in spite of us.
He'll catch us, every time
Four Ways to Plan a Homeschool When your Family Has Suddenly Grown Large
1. Keep It Simple
This is probably not the year for mapping your town in Sharpie Markers or turning your backyard into an edible urban garden. It's probably not the year to dig your own swimming pool or sew everyone matching anything.
It could, however, be the year for a boxed curriculum that you hand out like this:
"Hey 7th grader! Here are your books!"
It could also be the year for online classes and outsourcing. It might be the year to hire a tutor or trade teaching responsibilities with a friend.
And when Mrs. Super Perfect Homeschooler haughtily asks you what you are doing this year for school, you can answer in truth and transparency that you are using K12 or Abeka or have hired tutors to teach them all because you are remembering, every day, that you are loved and it doesn't matter what she or anyone else does or says.
2. Never Lose Sight of the Gospel. Hope in God.
He is our only hope.
Not homeschooling, not our religious choices, not our marriages, not our healthy cooking, not our jobs, not our bank accounts, not our parenting, not anything else.
He is our only hope. He is our only hope. He is our only hope. (repeat)
3. Pray Together and Often
I used to think I had to figure it out, on the spot. Now, I just drop my head and ask for Divine intervention. Children tearing at each other over a wooden Thomas train one had and the other wanted? Pray. Dinner circumvented by a little guy who thought pulling the slow cooker plug out would be fun? Pray. Pounding headache first thing in the morning? Pray.
Do, yes. But pray first.
And then hold their little and big hands in yours and pray some more.
4. Have a plan, but hold your plans loosely.
I can give you a thousand-and-one examples of how our homeschooling days have been way-laid. How our beautiful color-coded spreadsheet never looks as good in real life as it does on paper. From a new kitten escaping under the couch to a blown-out diaper that required an entire bath session to the washer breaking mid-load to Dad throwing his back out and showing up at home for lunch to a desperate 911 call after finding the baby in a coma.
This one took me way too long and a wise older friend to figure out, but holding our plans loosely and allowing the Holy Spirit to do His thing has brought more peace than I can properly communicate. And actually, it goes back to that thing about being loved and living as if we are: He fills in the gaps and picks up the slack. It always turns out better than I dare hope.
Don't forget to laugh as much as possible
Need more resources?
Curriculum Done For You
Illuminations is a brilliant, all-in-one pre-planned curriculum by the wonderful folks at Bright Ideas Press. They're the ones who publish Wonder Maps, The Mystery of History, the Christian Kids Explore Science series, and lots of other great products you'll want to check out when you know you can breathe again and add a little something to your days. Just not now.
Rod and Staff is a Mennonite curriculum provider with great elementary resources. You'll likely have to explain why all the mamas in the pictures are wearing head coverings, and there's a whole lot of farming going on, but they are laid out well, easy to use, and very thorough.
Incidentally, Rod and Staff also has curriculum for junior high and high school, but they are theology and doctrine-heavy, so unless you're Mennonite, you'll have a lot of jumping around to do with your students.
A Beka Books is the standard in Christian textbooks, and they've been around longer than the current wave of homeschooling began in the late '70's. You'll get lots of support from them, as well as the assurance that your homeschoolers are getting the same info and standards they'd have if they were enrolled in a Christian school.
BJU Press has also been around for a good long time.
Online classes resources
Biola Torrey Academy offers on-site classes for students in Southern California, but for those of us in the rest of the world, they offer online classes, too. Our sophomore is enrolled this year and we are very happy with the online class time he is engaged in as well as the guidance and discussion of the course material.
Veritas Scholars Academy has been a blessing for several friends of mine, offering online classes that cover popular Veritas Press courses such as history and logic.
The Potter's School offers a complete online course schedule that includes a fully accredited diploma program.
Switched on Schoolhouse is a complete school online for kids in every grade.
Other online options to check out:
Still feeling like you can't do this? Me, too. More hope here for those of us who wonder why we thought we could take on this career called homeschooling.