A reader wrote me with this question:
“I decided I wanted to homeschool all my children for number of reasons. However, with all the research I have done and preparation on the side. I’m scared out my mind! What advice would you give to a new homeschooling mom of 4 small children of all different ages. I think my biggest fear if the fear of them not learning, and that they would be missing out on something. ”
I completely understand that fear Elizabeth! It can be overwhelming to begin researching curriculum choices.
I wrote a post awhile back to another friend who decided to take her kids out of the Georgia K12 program. My response to her is here. One of the biggest points I tried to get across to her is that It’s Not About the Curriculum.
Seriously. Most of the choices are about as good as the other. There will be some things you like, some things you love, and some things you dislike about whatever curriculum you choose.
I recently read a transcript of an interview a fellow blogger and homeschooling mom conducted with Susan Wise Bauer, a home education expert and author of many of my favorite homeschooling books (you can see that a list of the curriculum we’re using this year in our homeschool uses many of her tools!).
One thing that stuck out in this interview was her advice to a new, first year homeschooling parent, and that was: Choose a “school in a box” type curriculum the first year. (Scroll down to the first question.)
For years, I designed my own curriculum for my kids using tools I liked from here and there. But this year, I’m craving more structure since I’ll have a new baby and another child in school. So I’m going with more scripted tools.
It would be a good idea for you to pick an “out of the box” curriculum you like and that works with your budget, and use that your first year.
As Susan says, you’ll discover what you like and dislike, what works for your kids and be able to make more specific choices after you’ve gained more experience in homeschooling.
As far as the concern that your children may miss out on some knowledge, please try to let that go. The truth is, there really isn’t any such thing as a complete education. There is no such thing as the “best” homeschool curriculum. No matter how our kids are educated: public school, private school, home school – there may be “gaps” in their knowledge.
There is no perfect, magical body of knowledge a person needs in order to grow up to be an independent, successful adult. And if there are significant gaps somewhere, that will show up and you’ll have time to address those things if you need to.
As an example, my sister recently graduated from nursing school. When she began, she had to work really hard on advanced math. It was blood, sweat and tears for awhile.
She’s now a nurse. Those “gaps” got filled just fine.
So take a deep breath, and just dive in. Don’t get too overwhelmed with the dizzying array of choices. Pick something and go with it. Have faith that you’ll discover what you need when you need it, and it’s never “too late” to make changes along the way. After awhile you’ll discover your own philosophy of homeschooling and might make different choices next year. Talk with your husband about what’s most important to you, your overall goals for your kids with education. Make decisions based on that.
Get with the homeschoolers in your area (especially those of similar faith if they’re around), and get that emotional and social support you need. For specific curriculum suggestions, you may want to check the homeschooling area of your state’s Board of Education website - where you’ll be submitting attendance reports (if that’s required in your state). They often have some good recommendations.
Feel free to email me again with any other questions!
What advice would you have for Elizabeth?