Over the years our pastor has spoken about the world of Christian publishing, with which he is quite familiar as both his family and his wife's family are involved. I am beginning to see that that same may be true of homeschooling publishers.
As a Christian homeschooler it's important to me that the curriculum I use, especially for the younger grades, is based on strong doctrine. However, taking a math book (which doesn't necessarily need doctrine, per se) and sticking a bible verse on each page does not a Christian text book make. I am learning. Sadly, over the years I learned the hard way, often times plunking down hard earned money and ending up with something that looked to be the next best thing since sliced bread, only to find two months into the year that either it was more of the same, or not even that good.
- budget: much like a house, clothing or car, we need to set a budget for our schooling. Sometimes it may be okay to extend, but ask your husband, don't just do a spur of the moment purchase.
- WHO are you teaching? Remember, you are teaching your child, not yourself. Maybe this is a way you would have liked to learn, but is this a way in which your child CAN learn?
- Prepare: spend a few months BEFORE the convention studying up on what you are interested in purchasing. Maybe have a few alternate choices if you have something this year that you know you need to change.
- Submit: Run the changes by your husband. One, he may have some insight for you, two he'll help you to keep a cap on your spending, or conversly encourage you to spend on something you should rather than "save money" which in the end may cost you dearly.
- Involve: As your children become older, junior high and above, you might involve them with some of the choices.
- Study: As your children hit high school age look at the classes, look at what your child thinks he may be doing as a life's calling and then try to suit much of his learning to that goal. Example: Young Man is now earning a degree as a Missionary Aviator. So, in high school we geared his language to where he thought he might be called to serve, rather than Advanced Biology we had him take Intro. to Aviation and rather than Chemistry we had him take Introduction to Electronics... all of these are things he needed to help prepare him, but also to help him be sure that this actually was where God was calling him to serve.
- Flexiblity: After all this, be open that you may, indeed, find something new at the convention. Think long and carefully before grabbing it. I had a number of books I sold at used book sales which I had never or only barely used. Sometimes it's worth the price of shipping to give yourself time to think and pray.
- Lists: Bring a list for each child. This helps in the end to make sure you didn't forget anything. I was so pround when I came from convention this year that I had purchased everything I needed. Then I realized I had not purchased our language program. In the end this was okay, because we changed our course based on some good advice, but if I had brought my list I might not have been so quick to think I was done.
- PRAY! Before you go and while you are there pray. Don't think you have to be a cookie cutter homeschool mom. It's so tempting afer one of those great talks to come down hard on ourselves and think, "I should be like so and so and then I'd have great success in my homeschooling." God has created you to be a unique individual, and your children likewise. Don't try to become just like everyone else. DO base your homeschooling on scriptural truths, DO submit to your husband, DO remain accountable whether to your husband and/or to a co-op or a friend, but DO NOT try to become someone you are not.
- Unique: DO NOT assume each of your children are gifted alike. Each of my four kids is very unique in their personality, style of dress, abilities, interests and life goals. That's 100% fine. God makes individuals... remember, some are the hands, some are the feet, maybe someone in your family is an elbow. They may not look as important as a mouth, but try to be a servant to someone without bending your arm and you realize that elbows are also important.