The choice to homeschool my children was one met with fear, apprehension and uncertainty. While I loved the numerous benefits it had to offer, such as the flexibility, ability to tailor learning to my child’s needs, and keeping Christ at the center of their education (which was a key factor), it was hard for me to rest in my decision. It’s a privilege to live in a region where so many resources for homeschooling families exist. After discussing my fears and concerns with other homeschooling moms, and reaching out to various resources in town, it became an easier choice to say “yes” to. My boys are younger: ages 6, 4 and 2. I’m still learning as I go. However, I can share some resources and advice that has helped me along the way.
The negative stereotype of homeschooled kids not being socialized or not having the same opportunities as kids in a public school setting, for the most part, have fallen by the wayside. Children that are homeschooled have the same opportunities as public-schooled kids and can be involved in the same activities, such as prom, sports, music groups, co-ops, field trips, a graduation ceremony and much more.
Considering homeschooling or already are?
If you’re thinking about homeschooling or are a seasoned homeschooler, I would highly recommend you attend the New Homeschooler Information Meeting held at the Library Center on South Campbell Avenue the second Thursday of each month from 6:30–8:30pm.
This was the first step I took to finding out more information about homeschooling. I left feeling confident and encouraged. Topics such as how to get started were discussed, choosing a curriculum, state law requirements and frequently asked questions were answered.
There is no charge to attend. More information can be found by visiting the Southwest Home Education Ministry website at shemonline.org.
Local homeschool programs
The YMCA, Discovery Center, Wonders of Wildlife, Dickerson Park Zoo and the Springfield Conservation Nature Center are just a handful of the local places that offer wonderful programs for homeschooling families.
Each month, my boys attend a program at Wonders of Wildlife and the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. My oldest son also attends Evangel University’s homeschool PE program weekly and the Creation Science Club monthly.
Co-ops provide a way for parents to come together to educate their children (in a class-like environment, to trade subjects that parents can teach or take group field trips). They come in all different sizes and with a variety of topics and goals. Shemonline.org and thehomeschoolmom.com have extensive lists of co-ops, music and sports opportunities, resources for parents, information about what the state’s homeschool laws are and much more! Thehomeschoolmom.com even has free downloads of different units of study.
Our family’s choice of co-op and education has been Classical Conversations. It’s an international program with several different groups that meet across the Ozarks. Learn more information about this type of education by visiting their website linked on the From Our Nest website, www.fromournestmag.com
Mardel’s, Christian Publisher’s Outlet and Redeemed Music and Books have a vast array of education materials for homeschoolers. Mardel’s has three different sales on their education materials throughout the year. Call the store for those dates. The materials found at Redeemed are at a discounted rate because they have been gently used. CPO offers a 10 percent discount off the retail price for their educational materials, even if an item needs to be special ordered.
SHEM hosts its annual convention in Springfield each spring. Plan to be inspired and informed by attending various workshops, so bring a notepad and pen/pencil to take notes for all your wonderful ideas. Find out more information by visiting shemonline.org.
Above all, have fun!
Remember: Your homeschool experience will never look the same as others. I learned this the hard way. Every family is different, and all kids are different. That is the beauty of homeschooling! Enjoy the flexibility it has to offer. Take advantage of resources in the Ozarks. While some days are overwhelming and test my patience, like my two-year-old crawling on the table while I teach my oldest math, I have to take a deep breath and remember the reason I do it. Then I smile and realize it is worth the crazy, stressful moments. They will get older and I just may miss the chaos.