I had such fun reading the responses over the kids’ homeschool “couture”. The crazy thing is that I actually almost stopped them from wearing their outlandish outfits once. We visited with another homeschooling family, who made a weekly practice of taking school on the road. It sounded like a great idea, so I tried it with our gang. It took forever for us to actually get dressed, fed, packed and out the door, which totally frustrated me. Once at the library (our chosen destination for the day), the school on the road idea caught mixed reviews. Personally, I learned (after only 1 outing, believe it or not), that the operative word in homeschool is not school, but home, and our uniqueness has value that works for us and is not to be belittled. Others might like to jump in the car and tour the city, but our brood enjoys wearing bathrobes and loungewear all day, eating snacks as the need/desire arises, and occasionally enjoying a bird, a plant, or whatever else God sends past the windows. We can laugh without telling each other, “Shhhh!”, and we can relax and walk barefooted without stares or pressure to buy something.
Such were my thoughts when I read a great article (originally on Kysha’s blog) championing the use of textbooks. It was an intriguing article from Teri Maxwell (of Managers of Their Homes fame), who was originally discouraged by others for her family’s choice to subscribe to the use of traditional textbooks. I guess those of us who steer away from textbooks do give the traditionalists a rough time.
In our home, we actually do use two traditional textbooks: Apologia for Science, and Rod and Staff for Grammar. When I think about it, we use those texts for the reasons the author stated—learning and planning that happens outside of Mom’s time and energy. I’m beginning to believe exactly what I heard in a seminar when we began this journey: no curriculum is bad curriculum. As just one example, I shared in a previous post about the differences of how ABeka teaches reading vs. Bob Jones, and I did spend the money—not a small amount, I might add—on the Bob Jones phonics curriculum. Now, I see the youngest take her own finger as needed and put it in the appropriate place to help her sound out words. Most of the time, no finger is needed at all. Talk about feeling like a horse’s rear.
Natural curiosity is a wonderful element of homeschooling. I’ve posted it before, but the times when the kids are talking, questioning, and loving what they’ve learned are, in my mind, the most treasured academic reward of a homeschool. Yet, the reality of this life is that everything the kids have to learn won’t be fun. Meeting their life’s goals will mean learning more than just that which they find fascinating. To complete an MBA with concentrations in finance and marketing, I had to take economics, accounting, and statistics—courses from hell (LOL).
So, where does all of this leave me? With a commitment to tap into the kids’ interests whenever I can, but also with a freedom and a peace. As I pray more, read more, and learn more, I’m okay with saying that we won’t be 100% anything next year, but we will learn. What’s more, we’ll do it in the way that works for us–bathrobes, nature studies, textbooks, and all.