I’ve been a little torn over the past few months as I’ve contemplated some aspects of our homeschool that need to change. Perhaps you are there too. I’d like to share some food for thought in regards to making curriculum choices, in hopes that it may help someone avoid some of the struggles I’ve been facing.
We decided to take a break from My Father’s World curriculum for a while. We still love so much about this curriculum, and may return to it at some point, but right now we have some goals for our family and homeschool that are leading us to try something different. Exactly WHAT that difference might be has been the source of my conflict. As I read curriculum reviews, browsed online homeschool stores, reviewed books about learning styles, and read books and articles about homeschooling high school, I encountered dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of ideas and programs that looked so wonderful. I made a list of all the subject areas that I wanted to cover, and listed out the “can’t live without” resources we’d need to make our homeschool complete.
Then reality hit. My list was impractical. For one, the costs were crazily expensive. I know that education is an important endeavor worth investing in, but the numbers did cause me to reconsider if all those items were truly necessary. Perhaps more importantly, my list wasn’t doable. If we diligently used each of those resources I thought we needed, my family would get overloaded, burned out, and we would have no time to do anything else. I needed to rethink these plans.
In our family we like to say, “Mom’s the teacher, Dad’s the principal, and God’s the superintendent.” It was time for this teacher to stop trying to do it all herself, and spend some time discussing the matter with the principal and superintendent!
So, I spent some more time praying for wisdom to make good decisions, and I asked my husband for advice. During a long drive on a weekend trip, we turned off the radio, I got out a notebook and a pen, and…
We talked about goals. Why are we teaching each of these subjects anyway? Is it only to meet the minimum requirements set by our state’s department of education? Or would it still be important to us if the law didn’t require it? Why would it be important? For profound purposes, practical ones, or some other reason? In light of our answers, how much time and emphasis should we dedicate to each subject? What do we want to accomplish with this child, or that one, or the younger set, or the older set, in this particular year?
We talked about methods. Do we want a textbook, workbook, test format? Discussion-oriented? Experiments? Living books? Notebooking?
My husband is not the primary teacher and therefore doesn’t use many of the homeschool materials that we buy, but I rely heavily on his input. He has a lot of wise counsel to give, and being that these are his children, his opinion and preferences should be honored. Talking with him helped me immensely in considering why we do what we do.
Once those goals and methods were determined, I was much better equipped to objectively think about curriculum! Most of our curriculum decisions were quickly and easily made once I was able to assess with how well the various resources fit in with our family’s goals.
A mountain of resources is available for homeschoolers today. SO MUCH of it is SO GOOD! Please know that there is no end-all, be-all “perfect” curriculum, that your children will forever be ill-served if you don’t use it. Before you make any curriculum decisions, I would strongly encourage you to first stop, pray, and ask some questions. Are both parents on the same page? Why do you do what you do? If it wasn’t required by law, would you still teach it? Why? Will this curriculum help you achieve the goals you have for your family? Are the methods in line with what your family wants? Is it feasible in your current season of life?
Once you know where you want to go, it’s much easier to look at the map to figure out how to get there. I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about your homeschooling destination!
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