Update: The NEW 2020 Cultivate Homeschool Planner is available for Pre-Order!
Long before our first day of homeschool, when I was still in the preparation stages, I was asked what curriculum we were using, what my best tips were, and even to speak at homeschool conventions. This felt a little like being asked to teach others how to ride a bike before I ever touched one myself. 🙂
I understand why friends asked me these well-meaning questions, though—I asked those same questions of others myself!
There are so many unknowns when you begin this journey. How do I do this? What do I do exactly? What if I mess up and don’t do enough? Where do I even START!? There are a million ways to do school (the challenge), and you get to do what’s best for your unique and wonderful child (the blessing).
While I’m no homeschool expert, I am deeply passionate about cultivating what matters—and a huge part of that for us is growing the hearts we’ve been entrusted with. Moving into our second year of homeschooling, I have learned a few things, but I’m still—and likely always will be—the student here.
I haven’t shared much about our homeschooling journey for the reasons above, and because this has been a really special and sacred time for just Grace and me. I’ve shared so much of my life online, and this has been a sweet experience for just the two of us. Here are some basics of how we do it, though:
We homeschool because… Simply because God led us here. Our reason for homeschooling might be easier to explain, perhaps, if I had a strong schooling philosophy that leaned toward homeschool, or if I were homeschooled myself, or if there were no great schools in the area. None of these things are true though! The honest answer is God made it clear to us with every little step forward that this would be our path for Grace. Through conversations with friends, being around other homeschool families, little nudges and opened doors… it just fit. Much like our journey to adoption, homeschool was not on our radar for life, but we’re so glad He planted us here. There are so many ways to grow our children’s hearts well, whether that’s a wonderful public school education (my path!), private school (Ari’s path), homeschool, charter school, boarding school, unschool, or circus school (technically I was required to take clowning in college so this is a real thing, people!).
I don’t do it all. Grace goes to a “homeschool school” two days a week where she does history, social studies, and science, and I work with her for the other two days. Friday she does piano lessons and gets to play with her siblings and just have fun being a kiddo.
We don’t use a formal curriculum. I’m using recommendations for each subject from close friends whom I trust. Kindergarten was our year to build foundations, learning how to learn together. If I had to put us in a category, I’d say we’re Charlotte-Mason-ish with a side of Grace-likes-workbooks. My favorite resources: My friend, Lara, has been a wonderful resource and encourager. I also love Read Aloud Revival. Her book, The Read Aloud Family, is awesome. I have modeled our year after some of the Ambleside Online suggestions. We use our Write the Word for Kids to practice handwriting and as a fun way to get into the Bible. There are a few of blogs I occasionally read too, but my very favorite resources have been in-person relationships. We are in a weekly Bible study with three other couples, two of which are long-time homeschool families—one even runs a homeschool school. My friend, Natascha, runs a homeschool school, too. Many of our church friends homeschool. The list goes on. The Lord built this community around us, and we are grateful.
School this week with my buddies. : )
We finally have a school name! It took us our entire first year to come up with a school name that fit. Trying to create a name that embodied our school and also looked good on a future transcript felt like trying to name a child! Our final decision? Thanks to Ari’s suggestion, we chose C.C. Austin Day School. Cecil Clyde Austin was my grandfather, who I have written about many times. He greatly impacted my faith, and Joshua even has “Cecil” as a middle name. We often tell stories about him to our kids, flip through his old Bibles, and I probably mention his name at least once a week. Our school name makes us think of his humility and passion for the Lord. We love it! Now, onto our mascot, chosen by Grace: a unicorn, naturally!
We take it day by day, week by week, and we plan to take it year by year. Right now, this is where God wants us. We’re open to whatever He wants for each child in the future.
Homeschool is challenging and wonderful all at once. Our journey so far has been, to put it mildly, spiritually refining. It’s the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done. And some days, it’s totally overwhelming!
To help me—and you—I have a little surprise!
Feeling overwhelmed by homeschool planning? I can relate! When I began our homeschool adventure, I prayed, researched, and readied myself as much as I could—but the most helpful thing I did was start each day with open hands. More than growing Grace’s mind, I wanted to cultivate her heart. I needed a simple system to stay focused on our big picture goals while getting the day-to-day learning done, too.
I created The Cultivated Homeschool Planner (a free download!) to help me get organized and focused on what matters most in our homeschool—and I’m excited to share it with you, too!
It is possible to set intentional goals and tend to them little by little with this customizable planner. No matter your method of schooling—or if your homeschool terms are six weeks long, three month periods, or traditional “semester” lengths, you can customize this undated planner to meet your needs. *I had mine printed and bound at a local printer which was significantly less expensive than FedEx Kinkos, and much better quality. I had them size mine down to 7.5 x 10. Printing on a home printer and using a three-ring binder is a great option, too!
I hope you enjoy this free download as much as I do!
Your turn! Do you homeschool? Considering it, but not sure where to start? Have tips or favorite resources for newbies? Feel free to share below!