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The thoughts on curriculum are strictly my own personal opinion and opinions gathered from experienced home educating mothers I have spoken to, who have come to this conclusion.
The curriculum you choose will have nothing to do with how smart your kids are, their character qualities or the career they ultimately choose. The curriculum is meant to be a tool to guide them, that you use as a means to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Yes, there are lots of subjects in between, but ultimately those are the three skills they will need to build their own foundation of learning.
The wonderful thing about living in these times of choice is there are too many choices! So many pretty, shiny boxes to choose from. Each tout that they will make your children scholars. So much so that your head begins to spin. When you peel back the layers of what is inside the box, they really are quite similar to the box sitting next to it, just a different shiny color.
I think most of us with a hint of self-doubt start inside the shiny boxes. Hoping for a magic potion to make our 4-year-olds Einsteins and give us step-by-step directions on exactly what the heck we are supposed to be doing with these kids. The structure of the box is familiar and comforting because most of us grew up in a similar box. We can all fit inside and we don’t have to look outside of the box for anything that may make us feel uncomfortable or different from all the other home-schoolers inside their boxes.
What begins to happen over time is our kids decide they get tired of their box and want to explore subjects that catch their eye and look interesting. Things they can actually feel, smell, pick up and see. It is real and not given to them artificially from a book. If you take the plunge and go for experiential learning and the wonderful place it can hold in your homeschool, you will become different. You will now be out-of-the-box and many families may see you as different. Honestly, some can feel uncomfortable with that, which is where the comparison and another round of self-doubt appears.
However, your family will find passions, skills, and talents that will take more and more of your time. The time that you had previously scheduled for piano, Latin, soccer, team PE, book club, STEM class, co-op and anything else that fills your calendar to keep you from free time at home, now brings you back home.
When you take this plunge, you will move from school at home to a home filled with learning, learning your own way. It is freedom.
Comparing yourself, your kids and their skill levels, your husband, your home and anything else in your life with ANYONE ELSE, will absolutely steal the exhilarating joy of raising your children the way you are called to do.
I call this the devil’s favorite fishing spot. If he can dangle that lure of doubt and we take the bait, he will absolutely control our emotions and actions when it comes to comparison.
Homeschooling is hard. As parents, you are in charge of the hearts and minds of your children. You will make mistakes. Crying will happen. Your children will cry, you may lose your temper and at times you may wish you had made different choices, like the yellow bus passing outside the window.
If you choose to start with a big box all-in-one curriculum with school desks and timer to get your feet wet, that is awesome. If you find unit studies, Charlotte Mason style, eclectic approach or other method appealing then give it a try. The dining room table, couch or outside under a tree may become your classroom and that is fabulous. It will take time to find your way. Any homeschool mom who wishes you success will tell you there is no right or wrong way. It is YOUR way and finding it takes time.
I have tried it all. Literally. It took me several years to let go of comparing. I needed to see my children and their needs and let go of the rest. We learn here, there and everywhere. We go, do and sometimes don’t pick up a textbook for a week. This is a journey for us, not a race. I see the end game that starts with character training, life skills, and basic academics. It is working for our family right now.
Believe in what your heart, mind, and God are calling you to do. Be faithful. You are exactly what your children need. You can teach your children what they need and guide them in their own interests. Be good to yourself. Give yourself the grace to make mistakes, they will not define you or your children. My mistakes have actually shaped and guided me to better choices. It is kinda funny when you realize that teaching your children at home, is actually lessons God is trying to teach you. Trust me, your own education isn’t over yet.