Her name was Tiffany. She was much like you. Two small children stood wrapped around her ankles and one was inside her womb. Year one of homeschooling had been successfully checked off, but something was very wrong. From the minute she entered the booth where I was working, her countenance was marred with anxiety, disdain, and hopelessness.
I had seen this look before, so I made a beeline to her side. “Can I help you find something?” I asked. She looked up at me with a blank stare and then unloaded a year’s worth of frustration in one sentence.
“I’ve got to get out of the box.”
I smiled inside as I knew exactly what she was struggling with, but I was excited that she had already come to the same conclusion. Well, mostly.
“This is my second year homeschooling and year one was awful. My son hates school. I hate school. I don’t know how in the world I’m going to make it through this journey. It is taking every single ounce of my energy right now not to put him on that yellow bus and ship him to public school.”
Her concern was valid. I mean, who wants to wake up every single day hating what they are doing? I was poised and ready to help her, but to my surprise she continued her confessional.
“The truth is… I’m scared. I don’t have the slightest idea where to start. I have no degree. I’m not qualified to do this.”
I could hear the fear in her heart as it trembled in her voice and I believed her. You see, I’ve met hundreds of moms just like her. Moms who have been shoved into a “homeschool box” and are completely suffocating. They feel inadequate to choose curriculum, supplies, or anything related to homeschooling their children. So they venture back to that familiar table and sign up for yet another giant box of curriculum stamped with a big fat “nightmare” across the side of the box.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing at all wrong with finding a company that meets your needs and buying a set of “boxed” curriculum that covers every single subject for that grade level. If that is working for your family, please keep doing it. But the truth is, it doesn’t work for most families.
Children are different. They have different learning styles. Parents have different teaching styles. We have preferences, likes, dislikes, and even different beliefs. I have found that when parents get “boxed in” to a curriculum like this, they often feel trapped in a nightmare of homeschool. They feel as though they can barely make it through each day and that their student is struggling greatly in school.
But neither is true. The curriculum we use to homeschool makes a difference in our success and it is possible that the one you are using is killing your experience. Not because there are necessarily any BAD curriculum choices out there, but because there are BAD choices for your particular family and situation.
You are Capable of Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
My guess is, you feel a lot like Tiffany. The enemy is doing a great job whispering those lies into your head, too. “I’m not capable of picking.” “I have no degree.” You know, the list goes on and on. I won’t address the topic in full here, but the root of that problem is a deeper lie.
Am I smart enough to homeschool? If you can’t answer that question with an immediate and emphatic “YES,” please stop right now and go read that article I linked to. We need to conquer that issue first.
So, if you are smart enough to homeschool, why wouldn’t you be smart enough to choose the curriculum you use? It’s funny how we get all hung up in this kind of insecurity. Let me flip the question around and see if it helps you. Do you think that some writer sitting in a corporate office for fill-in-the-blank box curriculum is better suited at choosing for your child? If so, WHAT?? Where do you get that idea?
No one out there knows your child better than you do. You know what he likes. You know how he enjoys learning. You know that he’d rather watch a video than read a math text. You know that he struggles with handwriting and fine motor skills, but is fascinated with history and cars.
This alone makes you qualified to chose curriculum for and with him. There aren’t any degrees that will help you make the choice. That is truly a faulty belief. Trust me, I have the degrees. In fact, I have a degree with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction. And every single year I have the same problem you do. I must decide what curriculum is working for each one of my children and what needs to be replaced.
How to Choose Curriculum That is Outside of the Box
I have another article that goes in-depth into the process of choosing homeschool curriculum, so I will not focus on that here. Instead, I want to empower you to believe that you alone are the one who can make the best choices for your family.
Step #1 Pray
Even if you do feel qualified to choose, this step should always be the first one. Pray and ask God to help you choose the right curriculum for each subject for each of your children. Ask Him to help you feel confident and boldly qualified to do this job. Thank Him for calling you to this journey of homeschooling and for the promise that He will equip you! (Heb. 13:21)
Step #2 Educate Yourself
You are the best person for this job, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it blindly. Roll up your sleeves and start digging around the internet for help. Read reviews of curriculum that seem like a possible fit. Ask friends for specific feedback about curriculum they have used. Remember, just because it worked (or didn’t work) for them means nothing, so ask specific questions. Also, be sure to ask your husband for his thoughts. Often someone on the outside can better see what things might be a struggle.
Step #3 Trust God with the Rest
I have to admit that I struggle with this one the most. I might pick a math curriculum for a particular child and then I go and worry about there possibly being holes and ways she will slip through the cracks. This is not healthy or helpful, not to mention it’s not trusting God! If I have prayed about this curriculum and done my homework in choosing it, I need to trust God with the rest.
It’s a blessing that we can trust Him to fill in the gaps of our weaknesses or imperfections. Let us not take back the reins on that one, friends!
So have you wondered what became of Tiffany? Well, I told her all of what I told you here and then we walked up and down the aisles looking for options for her son. She left with an arm full of curriculum that she was excited about and tears of joy running down her face. Never before that moment had she felt empowered and capable in her homeschool and it was such a blessing to be a part of that.
And that’s what I want for you. Grab the reins, girl! You are not trapped in that box of curriculum. You can indeed educate your children well. Don’t doubt it for even a second.