The New Commonwealth School Association, of which Brenda is now president, helps homeschooling families gather into communities, which then develop a constitution and found onceaweek schools where students are mentored and receive the highest quality of education.Read More
by Kelly Royster
I remember when I first considered the idea of homeschooling. I was gung-ho and confident until the big yellow school bus came by and picked up everyone’s kids but mine. Then reality hit; what was I thinking?? Fortunately I had armed myself with a small arsenal of knowledge that really helped me confront some of the scarier issues that beginning homeschoolers face, such as homeschooling within the law, curriculum choices and the dreaded ‘s’ word (socialization!) Perhaps you have some of these same fears. Or maybe you just want to connect with other Moms who have been there and done that and see what life in the thick of homeschooling looks like. If so, then I have a suggestion for you! The LDSHE Beginner’s Seminar! It’s a day full of classes that address these very issues and more.
When I first considered home education I was worried about reporting to the “authorities.” I wanted to make sure I turned in the correct information for testing, attendance and whatever else might be required. The Legal How-To's class addresses how to dot all i’s and cross all t’s when working with school administrators. It also deals with record keeping so you have the information needed to keep track of your child’s progress.
I wasn’t as worried about my ability to teach as much as I was worried about what to teach and when to teach it. And with the ever-increasing number of homeschoolers, more and more great curriculum is available. How does one choose and why? What is a classical education? Or TJEd? The Curriculum Conundrums class addresses the different homeschooling philosophies and curriculum choices and helps you sort through them to discover what direction you may want to take your family’s education. At the end of this class there will be a curriculum browse giving you the chance to look at actual curriculum and talk to other moms about why and how a particular program worked for their family.
And of course my mother in law was worried about my kids not being ‘normal’ or socialized like other children. Maybe your husband is worried about your son playing high school football. Sports, Socialization and Grandparents is a class that covers these topics and helps you address the concerns of well-meaning family and friends.
One of the best things about the Seminar is the opportunity to hear from ‘veteran’ homeschool Moms and glean wisdom from those who are in the trenches of home education. The Daily Routines class follows three different Moms through a day in the life of their homeschool. You’ll get an idea of how a typical day at their house looks and gain some ideas for your own school day. There will also be plenty of one on one time with these Mentor Moms during the curriculum browse, during breaks and at the end of the day during our Mix and Mingle with Mentor Moms.
This is an LDS Conference and the day wouldn’t be complete without a class that emphasizes the opportunity we have to offer our children a uniquely LDS education. How can we best apply gospel principles in the education of the little ones entrusted to our care? We live in the “great and terrible” day of the Lord and our children can be the great among the terrible if we nourish them with knowledge and intelligence.
Kelly is a Virginia native and currently resides in Louisa County, VA with her husband Scott, her four beautiful daughters ages 6-14, and a new baby. Kelly attended BYU and received a BA in Linguistics and a TESL Certificate. She grew up dancing, and while at school, she performed with the BYU Theatre Ballet, touring across the western US and South Africa. Currently a full-time homeschool mom, she teaches ballet at a local studio and to the gymnasts at her daughter's gym. Kelly also enjoys gardens, chickens, herbs, reading, music, camping and learning languages.
Last week I had the opportunity to be with a group of LDS homeschool moms for 2 ½ days. What an amazing group of women! We had congregated as a planning committee and that was the focus of our meetings, but as you can imagine, we took the time to network too.
I am grateful that I was privileged to be in the company of such strong and dedicated women. We were a diverse group, some just starting out homeschooling, some having done it for 20 years or more. Some of us had large families, some small. Most were from the east coast, a few of us from the west and mid-west. But 2 things bonded us together- our testimony of Jesus Christ and the desire to do the best we could for our children.
We had our “required” planning meetings, but as we planned for the homeschool conference next spring our thoughts went to all the homeschool families across the nation and what their challenges were and we brainstormed what were the best ways to help them. That lead us to talk about our own struggles, then how we met the challenges. We offered encouragement, ideas and shared the inspiration we had received in our own lives. In other words, we talked and talked and talked.
When we weren’t in our formal meetings we talked about the challenges we faced as moms, as parents in today’s world. We talked about canning, gardening, our favorite recipes, home births, herbal treatments, church callings, etc. We talked about toddlers, teens and tips and tricks to help cope with the ups and downs of family life.
At one point it seemed that all we were doing was talking, not planning. But the talking was what we wanted to do. It was wonderful to talk about our favorite subject – homeschooling- with a group of moms who understood exactly what we did each day and why we did it. It was safe to talk about the challenges as well as the joys of homeschooling.
We were coming to the end of our time together and I was a little worried that we would not accomplish all that we needed to before we all went home. But a remarkable thing happened. After all the discussion and commiserating and supporting we had done, we suddenly saw the meat that we need to plan into the conference. The meat that homeschool moms everywhere needed to be able to continue homeschool their families with confidence and faith.
One of the things we discovered was homeschool moms need to have joy in what we do. Just as President Monson told us in October Conference 2008 we need to find the joy in the journey of our homeschools now. Not when we don’t have toddlers anymore, not when we finish the math text book or when we finally get our homeschool room organized. We are homeschool moms because we want to have an active part in our children’s education. We are homeschool moms because we want our children home with us. We are homeschool moms because we value the lifestyle homeschooling brings to our lives.
So let’s look for the joy in our homeschools this new school year. Let’s take time to spend with our children, just because. Let’s not worry so much about what we are not doing and focus on what we are. Let’s not have our schedules so tight we cannot stop and smell the roses or we will be late for our next activity.
Men are that they might have joy. We moms need to homeschool in ways that we might have joy! I pray that in each of our homeschools we might make it so.