This is the time of year when many families have ordered their curriculum, and have it ready and waiting for the back-to-school season. I’ve always loved creasing those crisp covers back for the first time and thinking about the potential each book holds for another new year of discovery. I remember my early years as a homeschool mom; as I was sorting out what my role was as mother and teacher, I wasted money on things that were never used.
I was enamored with methods – truly believing I would find one that would finally map out our homeschool journey once and for all. I know now that there is no perfect solution, and usually when I’ve tried to scratch an itch with a new program, there is a deeper root issue than just curriculum incompatibility. It’s often frustration with what is actually a discipline or relationship issue, and throwing money at it seems the easiest solution. But the most effective ways are often the slowest, most demanding of my flesh, and I want a quick fix. It takes a lot of time to figure out what is going to work for a child – to discover who they are and what makes them come alive, to build trust, and to find how they prefer to learn.
My preferences are not really what matters. I’ve gotten “curriculum crushes,” but they weren’t right for my kids, and it didn’t make sense to make a long-term commitment. We no longer do a big, yearly curriculum order. Every few months, I take extra time to pray and think about where God is leading my children. I sit with a journal (and maybe a catalog) and see where the Spirit prompts me. The Source of all life knows what challenges my children will face and what I need to do to help prepare them. I’ve taken note of what makes my children come alive, and where their passion is directed. Throughout the year, I pick up resources that help with that vision – books, tools, art supplies, audio downloads, or outside classes.
I think about my own relationship with lifelong learning, and the pursuits that bring me joy. I am so challenged by doing the things I love. I push myself harder in the things that I value more than any other teacher could. There is personal growth in that. I trust that this process can work for my children, too. Although my mind may begin to wander when conversations turn to curriculum talk and the yearly purchasing decisions, it is a reminder for me to refocus and make sure I am still going in the direction of my values, that striving is well and good, and that it is never too late for a fresh start.