There are SO many wonderful resources available for homeschool families. I have never been to a convention, but I hear it can be overwhelming to stand in a hall with vendor booths and stare at all the hundreds of items you "need" to make your homeschool the best. I feel that way when I shop online for resources. Everything is packaged and marketed to sound WONDERFUL. Everything is designed to help your kids love learning. Everything is written to be a solution where other curricula have failed. So how do you even begin to choose?
In the past, I would read a description about a curriculum, then search for reviews, then try a sample, and make my decision. This is a logical, sequential, and repeatable process. Perfect for math brains like mine. Only when I look back at the past five years I haven't had the results that I expected to have when I did the research. Not always anyway (some products I have tried and LOVE). So what is the solution?
First, I need to understand the real problem here. The real problem isn't exactly the curriculum choices I had made, but my method of educating the children. In the past my goal was to have independent learners. On the surface, this doesn't sound like a bad goal. You will no longer find that in my list of Top 5 Priorities, because it just doesn't work for our family. Don't get me wrong, my kids can learn independently. But they do so grudgingly. They will learn more, and willingly, if I am teaching them. If I am coming alongside them to help them in their work, they excel.
Now we are digging deep. This is an area that God has been working in my heart for months. My willingness to lay down my own life--desires, hobbies, plans--to serve my family is what God is gently asking from me. This is not about you or what I might see in your life, if you feel a chord of agreement then perhaps it is an area you feel God working too, but this is about me. My desire to have independent learners wasn't primarily about my children becoming life-long learners, though that would be a noble goal. My desire to have independent learners was so I could continue to look like "super mom" while I have smart kids and run two businesses and have friends and free time and intellectual pursuits and the list goes on. In other words, it was selfish. It is something like this, "I want you to go work on your school. No, I can't help you right now, I'm too busy. I have to _________." Where filling in the blank might be: answer an email, write a blog post, sew a diaper, mail a package, finish this book, etc. This is not noble. These things can wait! Now, changing a diaper sometimes can NOT wait. But we are not talking about good priorities. I fully admit that I have selfish priorities. My selfish priorities prevent me from being the teacher my kids need.
When priorities are wrong, there is no miracle curriculum. There is no curriculum, not even in public school, where I can set my kid in front of it and get a great result out with no effort or sacrifice on my part. Why do I bring all this up now in this portion of the journey? Because I want you to understand that I haven't found the "perfect recipe" of curricula that will ensure a great homeschool year. There are MANY wonderful curricula from which to choose. What I have found is a heart change. Without this, my efforts would be reduced to spending hundreds of dollars on new curriculum that garners results little better than last year and the years before that.
This heart change IS a miracle. God is transforming me from the inside out. I often wish He would work faster. I want to let go of anger and bitterness and impatience and selfishness that cause me to be a cruel teacher. I want to be filled with His Spirit and to pour on grace to my children like a salve to heal all wounds. He is faithful to grant what I ask, though I still am and will be until Christ returns, a work in progress. So at the very bottom of the page in my binder with my Top 5 Priorities and Secondary Priorities I have written a reminder to myself:
One step at a time, day by day, moment by moment.It can be hard to think about--sacrificing my time to be a better teacher? How much more time do I give up? Don't I need time for me? God gently leads, "Trust Me." Do my kids really need that much of me? "Yes, absolutely!" They answer. I think nearly every single child has voiced a desire in the past few months to have more time with me. Only God Himself speaking could be more loud and clear. This is more than a desire from the children, this is a deep-seated, TRUE NEED. Yes, yes I will answer the call to give up myself. I will serve my family and in doing so I will be serving Christ.
NEXT, I promise, is the post on which curriculum we chose. :) Then we need a pit stop (anyone else need a potty break?), and after that I will write about how we came to our decision of what to do for high school.