When homeschooling was new and the homeschool pioneers were fighting for the opportunity to legally teach their children in the home, they put together a course of study however they could. There was no internet shopping or websites devoted to homeschooling. Huge homeschool conventions with featured speakers flown in from around the country were literally decades away. Parents used real books, worked with small Christian school publishers, and otherwise made what they needed. Although academics were certainly important, the early pioneers focused a great deal on family and relationships.
Over the past few decades the homeschool market has exploded both in terms of curriculum and ideologies. Homeschoolers face an overwhelming number of options at this point. To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s a good thing. I believe being faced with too many options is perhaps just as bad as having only a few limited options. (You could even make an argument it might be worse but that would be a post for another day.)
The homeschool community has experienced many trends and even some fads. They continue to this day. I will refrain from mentioning what I observe to be some of the current ones since my goal with this post isn’t to bring wrath down on my head. (I did that once with my milquetoast post about why we didn’t do Classical Conversations and several years later the comments still bubble up anew from time to time.) But there are definitely ideas and curriculum that explode into the homeschool world and become “the thing” for a number of years. The pressure to participate can be significant because people are sure “this is it.”
Recognizing all of this reality does raise the question of what a mother should choose for her child. How does she make those decisions regarding which ideology to embrace and what to buy? Practically everything is promoted as being necessary to provide a child with a “great education.” Every ideology’s adherents believe they do it the best way and the pressure to do it “right” (as they promote it) can be intense. No homeschool mom wants to deny her child the “best education” possible.
But I think there is something to consider that can lessen the burden.
In a recent discussion with a fellow homeschool mom, I made the observation that just because something is worthy of study it doesn’t mean it’s worthy of my child’s time. I think I have instinctively known this and that’s why we became relaxed homeschoolers when so many other people I knew were embracing classical education, Charlotte Mason, etc. They didn’t fit my child and I knew it.
But I hadn’t worded it in that way and so I immediately wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget what I said.
Just because something is worthy of study it doesn’t mean it’s worthy of my child’s time.
There is precious little time available for homeschooling. This becomes all the more apparent when you reach the high school years when parents are tempted to believe the idea that every choice is virtually a matter of life and death. Courses, schedules, grades, credit hours, etc. can all become your master rather than homeschooling continuing to serve your child.
I have dealt with this first-hand in recent years. We’ve always homeschooled and we did so because we believed it was the best option for our child. Period. I’ve written at length about how we came to see that it’s really the only option for our child. So homeschooling has always been in my mind something to serve our family and not the other way around.
Maybe some of the current must-haves and must-do priorities have value and maybe they don’t. Certainly there are many worthy things to potentially study. Think about all that we continue to learn as adults. But many of those worthy subjects, ideas, philosophies, and goals may not be worth your child’s time. Just because an expert in an ivory tower or a mom in your homeschool group insists that something is critical to being truly “educated” doesn’t make it so for your child.
The wisdom comes from knowing your child in a significant way, trying to discern what the Lord might have for your individual child in the future, and making the best choices you can with the information you currently have available.
The bottom line is that something an expert deems worthy might have no relevance to what God has created my child or yours to do in the future. While we will come across much in our lives that has great worth and value, it does not follow that it is worthy of your child’s valuable time.
So to the dear homeschool moms reading this who feel overwhelmed by the pressure both from without and within, I want you to know this. You will never be able to do it all, read it all, visit it all, or learn it all with your child. In fact, trying to do so could be a real waste of your child’s time and yours. Instead, ask God to guide you each day to make the most prudent decisions for your child – even if it is completely different from what your friends and family members are doing. He will answer that sincere prayer. He will guide you in ways you won’t even realize until perhaps weeks or months later. I’ve seen Him do it time and again in my own homeschool planning.
The Lord will lead you to what is worthy of your child’s time if you ask Him.