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.
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!
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.