Hurrah! It’s hunting season. I frankly love this time of year. It’s finally time to get out your catalogs, sign up for state convention and purchase next year’s curriculum.
When I began homeschooling in the ’80’s very little was available to us. It made the hunt easier in some ways, and frustrating in others. If you wanted anatomy for your high schooler, it simply wasn’t available. However, it also wasn’t necessary to sift through mountains of material to find a reading program. It can be pretty overwhelming to search through everything currently available to find those special books that are going to help you captivate your student.
With that thought, here are some hopefully helpful principles from a long time curriculum hunter, as I sit out the hunt for the first time in….27 years.
Curriculum is your servant, you are not its slave.
It’s hard to wrap your mind around this truth. Educating your child at home is a sobering responsibility, and we all feel inadequate to the task. It becomes very easy to enslave yourself to your curriculum. Remember your purpose is education and mastery. It is not the completion of the book, the video or the worksheet. It is not doing every problem, or project. Choose freedom, use curriculum to accomplish the goal. Do not allow your curriculum to become a dictator that you serve. Remember it is just a tool that you choose to use to help you and your child accomplish educational goals.
Don’t limit your children by your choices.
Avoid curriculum decisions that will limit your children’s future opportunities. Do not assume that you or your child know what they will need or use in the future. The future is a big place. Give them everything that you can; so that they have the tools they need to do whatever God calls them to do. You cannot tell at 14 what they will want or need at 24. Don’t decide to limit their math or science because you don’t think they’re inclined that way. Ignore the whine as best you can and insist. At the finish line, you will both be grateful for every subject studied and every experience embraced.
Feed the spark.
Look for every opportunity to enrich and encourage those things that fascinate your child. Let them love to learn. It is a wonderful benefit of homeschooling that it takes so much less time to teach one student a skill, than it does to teach a whole classroom the same skill. Consequently, your student will have extra hours in their day. Fill some of that time with with what Greg Harris calls “delight directed study”. All that means is that you encourage extra learning in those areas that pique your child’s interest. Use the library, the internet, purchase extra books, take field trips and do some fun projects.
Don’t forget the fun.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the academics that you forget the experiences that make learning in a family fun. Include games, crafts, read alouds, field trips, and nature exploration. Plan for those things, that way they are more likely to happen. In this area especially it’s so easy to have good intentions; but when school actually starts, your schedule overruns you, and the fun disappears. If you plan fun into your curriculum it’s easier to make it happen.
Remember the goal.
While it is of course essential that you educate your child, make sure in doing so that you win their heart. You want them to love God and embrace the values that your family holds. To do that you must win them. Don’t get lost in endless worksheets and projects. Have spontaneous picnics. Read aloud under a favorite tree. Talk to them about everything. Share your heart, and most importantly let them share theirs. Point them to Jesus.
Praying you have a fruitful and blessed hunting season.