If you haven’t yet, please read Part 1 in this series, My Heart and Homeschooling.
When God commands us to do something He also equips and enables us to do it. So if God has called you to home educate your children, He will give you the wisdom, strength and time necessary to educate them for His glory. This does not mean that it will be easy but just like in our Christian walk, our journey should be characterized primarily by joy, good fruit and forward progress.
The difference between a homeschool characterized by joy and one characterized by burnout is usually the focus or the goal toward which the family is pressing. We must allow our goals and priorities to be governed by God’s Word and by His standard not by man’s definitions of academic success. The curriculum you choose will either be a valuable tool in reaching your goals or something that you will have to wrestle with as you press forward. But it’s not just the curriculum, it’s the method.
- Method – the manner in which you utilize the resources that you have to educate your children.
- Curriculum – the resources that you use to educate your children.
Let me give you a brief example. One of our family’s goals is to focus on relationships. If we chose to educate exclusively with textbooks then our method would constantly battle against this goal. The nature of textbooks is that those working would need peace and quiet and would either choose to work away from the younger children and each other or would be bothered by frequent interruption. During the school day each child would be isolated from the others and from me. There would not be a common family conversation about history, science or geography because everyone would be learning and studying different events and topics.
We may get to the end of each day wondering why everyone is so impatient and frustrated with each other and we may not understand the lack of unity within our family, but much of that can be explained by the artificial system that we have set in place in order to accomplish academic goals.
But it’s not really as simple as that. A family could use textbooks in a way that integrates the family and eliminates most, if not all, of the drawbacks listed above. Conversely a family can take a relationship friendly curriculum like Sonlight, decide to use a different level for each child in the house end up with just as many relationship hurdles as someone who exclusively uses textbooks.
So your curriculum AND how you use it are equally important.
Here are some aspects of our method that affect our curriculum choices: (These are in no particular order and I would classify our method as ‘lifestyle’ learning.)
- We strive to teach within the context of life. (see the Scripture quoted below and Deut. 6)
- We teach multiple levels together a LOT.
- We think it is important for our children to have time to follow their own interests and curiosities so we do not use busy work to keep our children busy.
- We don’t arbitrarily divide subjects into sub-subjects. (We teach geography within the context of history, and spelling, handwriting, grammar and speech within the context of reading and composition.)
- We do not feel obligated to do every assignment, question, etc. as written by our chosen curricula, it is our TOOL.
- We are not limited by the assignments and topics presented in our curricula, it is our TOOL.
- We realize that our kids have different strengths and weaknesses and we adjust our expectations and their assignments accordingly.
- We spend the majority of our ‘school’ day directly interacting with our children (we do very little passing out of assignments and grading papers). Deut. 6:4-9
- I do not spend copious amounts of time planning for each day’s lessons. (Who am I kidding? Mark and I spend time at the beginning of the year planning our direction and then we just do the next thing until we are finished with what we had planned.)
- History is a family discussion.
- We recognize that our children are constantly learning. They learn from everyone around them, from the media to which they are exposed, the conversations that they hear and the examples that they see. These ‘untaught’ lessons can be more powerful than the lessons that we try to teach them.
- We educate year round and simply take short breaks to focus on different aspects of life as needed.
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of Jehovah’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshiped. Ex. 12:26-27
When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. Joshua 4:21
Of course your goals for homeschooling will also be an important factor in selecting a curricula. I will post about our specific curriculum choices next Thursday. In the meantime, I’m working on several different posts about homeschooling methods, so stay tuned if you have more questions on that topic.
Read about how other moms of many choose a homeschool curriculum:
Click button to read the other topics that the 4 moms of many have discussed.
Other posts about choosing a curriculum: