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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Best Program for Your Homeschool is the One that Gets DONE!

Confession time here:  I used to be a homeschool snob.

The very idea of using a textbook or an “all in one” curriculum to get the job done raised my educational hackles. 

If someone said to me, “I do this to make sure we get the minimum done,” I’d nod politely, but my mental response was, “But I don’t educate my children myself to just do the minimum!” 

I just knew that that I was never going to homeschool that way.

I mean, really, what is the point?  There’s so much more out there. 

Why settle for the minimum?  I want my kids to have the very best education they can have.

Ha.  I was so full of myself.

And I was so judgmental.  Not in your face, “you’re doing it wrong” judgmental.  But it was at the back of my mind---I’m not that kind of homeschooler.  I have a better way of doing things.

It’s been quiet around the old blog the past few months.  I just haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been eating a lot of humble pie.

The Best Program for Your Homeschool is the One that Gets Done!  Homeschooling Hearts & MindsI’ve been questioning what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and why I’m doing it.  I have to admit that my previous judgments…well, I just didn’t know what the heck I was talking about.

Just like the gal who just had a baby and is dispensing all the parenting advice…and then her child grows and she has a second child and she starts to realize that maybe, just maybe she really doesn’t have it all figured out. 

As my kids get older and I see the results of working with them, I’m learning that some of my ideas were just, well, wrong.  Not horribly, catastrophically wrong---but flawed in a way that I couldn’t really understand without the right amount of experience.

All those grand plans of going above and beyond…

How many times have I dreamed up the perfect plan, only to have it not get done?  Have you done that?  There are days that I’m really lucky if anything gets done at all. 

How many times have I spent hours reading to my children about famous historical figures, only to have them stare blankly when a name like Gandhi is mentioned in passing? 

You know Gandhi, that peace loving dude from India.  The one we read a whole book about last year?

Oh, yeah, that guy!

Earlier this week, I wrote a post on teaching history within a classical framework to kids of all ages.

I believed in that post when I wrote it, but for a long while I’ve had doubts about the long-term wisdom of a classical approach in our homeschool.  I’ve always believed that it had certain limitations and now I’m seeing them more clearly.

Some changes are coming.

I’ve learned something as I’ve watched my children grow and I’ve had candid conversations with them about the future and what they want to do with their lives…and I’m learning to embrace the idea of doing the minimum.  I’m learning to redefine in my own mind what “minimum” means.

It finally dawned on me that I had misinterpreted what my minimalist friends meant.  When I heard the word “minimum,” I thought of doing the least you can get by with and having it be good enough.  Maybe not great, but good enough.

But what if the minimum isn’t just a bare bones wooden frame with no reinforcement?  What if it’s a strong stone foundation, laid with loving hands, allowing the child to fill the cracks and build the walls on his own? 

And what if when I focus too much on the extras, I stretch that foundation too thin, allowing the really important stuff to crumble and fall down through the cracks.

It would be far better to do less exceptionally well than to try to do it all and fail when it really counts.

And this is why the best program for your homeschool is the one that actually gets done---you can have the most perfect-est program designed from top to bottom just for you and your crew, but if it doesn’t get done, it’s worthless to you and to them.

I haven’t failed miserably, but I do need to refocus my energies.  I’ve come to realize that some of the things I was spending the most time and energy on are not really that important.  I’m looking for a new balance.


  1. Make sure you write a follow-up once you know what that new balance is. I'd like to read it. :-)

  2. I feel your chagrin. We've changed our methods and curricula several times over the years, and I've learned to stop preaching about any particular method.

    Kids grow and change, and demands on our energy and time (and finances) change as well.

    I agree that 'minimum' doesn't have to mean 'slacker'. Sometimes 'simple' and 'basic' are great jumping off points for all kinds of creative homeschooly goodness!

    1. Yes, there's never a "forever thing" in this life. Except when it comes to God. ;)

  3. Hi. My first of homeschooling, I knew everything about everything. Somehow now that I have been homeschooling for 2 years I know that I know nothing. I think you have be able to grow with your kids and modify the curricula towards their abilities and not towards what you want to just cram in their brains in a year. Just because they don't remember a fact, a date, or a person that they probably should have tattooed on their brains, doesn't mean you aren't successful as a teacher and mother. I've had to learn to think, really what's more important, a historic date or that their mom is opening doors for them to learn and the knowledge is coming from a loving and God-centered home. My kids can tell strangers about the love of God, and they can show examples of mercy and kindness. They are willing to help total strangers. And although they refuse to clean their rooms the way I like it and have a total mental blockage on the times tables, I know they will be o.k. when I see them demonstrating Christ-like love on a elderly woman at the grocery store, helping her get things that are too low for her to bend down and reach. My son even will hug them and say I love you. And I know he means it. They can spot need and dive right in to help out without urging or nudging. They never did that when they were in public school. They were self-centered and angry all the time. So who cares about history dates I can't force into their memory, I know there are few I remember now. :) Your kids are awesome because you love them and because there's no place like home. Knowledge isn't the light of the world, Christ is.

    1. Yes, the environment my children are learning in will have a tremendous impact on who they grow up to be. At the same time, while it may not matter if my children remember this or that date, there is value in Christians trying to understand mankind's history and the world around it us---it not only gives us plenty of illustrations for the need to look to our Lord for guidance rather than relying on our own weak natures, but gives us the opportunity to marvel of God's incredible, awe-inspiring creation. The intricacy in a single atom is a testament to His glory. It is true that knowledge is not the light of the world, but true knowledge does not hide His glory, it honors it.

  4. Kate, I agree 100% with you! You're right on the mark!

  5. Well said, Susan. Well said. I needed this reminder especially today I try to see where we are at and where my high schoolers need to be.

    1. It seems like the winter is my time for evaluating where we are at. ;)


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