If you’ve been homeschooling for a little while, you may have noticed something that happens every spring. Homeschooling parents begin to talk about curriculum choices for the fall. Companies send out new marketing materials and the community is all a-flutter with the latest shiny brochures and websites promising to “inspire” your little learner and make the teaching process smooth sailing!
And for many of us - we REALLY want their story to be true! We’d love to rely on someone else to handle it and have our kiddos hop up from bed eager to dive into the lessons.
But in spite of that wish, most of us also know the truth.
Our little learners have tasted freedom. And not to mix metaphors, but getting that genie back into the bottle would be darn near impossible!
So this week I want to talk about the Lure of Curriculum. We may need to do a little reframing about how we look at it all.
I’ll bet, if we walked through most of our homes, we’d see shelves loaded with unused homeschooling resources. Sadly sitting there gathering dust. Set aside because, in spite of the sales pitch, it didn’t measure up. The kids resisted. We recognized that the approach didn’t work or maybe the chapters were lame. So we set put it over on the bookshelves.
And, because we have a little guilt about spending all the money, we hang onto them.
“Maybe some day the kids will be interested in this!”
“Maybe it will work for the younger ones.”
And in my case, “Maybe for the grandkids!”
We really hate to admit we made a bad business decision when it came to buying these things. And these thoughts do help us conquer that guilt that keeps being triggered as we walk past these shelves every day.
But it’s not our fault!
After years of school, we are pretty conditioned to rely on experts and doubt our own abilities. And, even if you’ve been moving in an unschooling direction, if you’re around a lot of other homeschooling (as opposed to unschooling) parents, it’s easy to get tossed back a few steps!
And… since misery does love company, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat a park day listening to someone say,
“Yeah, but… aren’t you afraid of ____ <fill in the blank>?”
“Don’t you want them to get into college if they want to?”
“Aren’t you worried you’re just not pushing them hard enough? Being to lax? UNPARENTING??”
Wow. So much to unpack with all of that, right?
Let me just tell you, in a nutshell, after 25 years of doing this, watching my own three very different now-grown unschoolers plus hundreds (maybe thousands, actually) of others, yes, I worried too.
AND in spite of all my worrying:
They learned what they needed when they needed it.
They got into college.
And coercion didn’t help anything.
It actually created more problems.
It’s not needed when we’re all curious learners. Period.
I want to invite you to NOT cave into your fears this year. Just this year. Do what you want next year, but for now, buy yourself a little time. A little grace to lean into this newer way of thinking. Don’t go plop down a bunch of money for that spelling program (because you saw how he spelled something recently) or that math curriculum (because your nieces and nephews can rattle off math facts and yours can’t.)
Instead, look for examples in your kids’ days that offer proof that your Fear is lying to you. It’s definitely overlooking the progress that your kiddos are making on their truly individualized learning path. While that Fear is just trying to keep you safe, it’s preventing you from embracing the freedom that COULD belong to you and your family.
Take this month and look for the learning that’s happening without your orchestration. Search for the examples that remind you that humans ARE naturally curious and hard-wired to learn.
It may not look anything like school - and this is where it’s going to take a little courage on your part.
Your kids’ learning will be more topic-driven and interest-based than focused on the familiar subjects. They’re in there, just not as clear cut, or packaged in those 45-minute blocks. And not to get too far off track here, but who are those neat little time blocks for anyway? If the child was really inspired by the information, they wouldn’t want to stop after an hour! We all know what it feels like to be immersed in something and lose track of the time. But stopping and shifting gears every 45-minutes is maddening. And for many, kind of mind-numbing. These sectioned time blocks and covering all subjects "equally" are part of running a school system and checking the boxes.
But we’re moving into a more out-of-the-box thinking! That’s where the joy in learning is! That’s where we step out of the black and white part of the Wizard of OZ movie and into the Technicolor! (Read The Curriculum Crutch)
Yes, it's a little scary. But so worth it.
It’s so much better for you and so much more empowering for the kids! Here’s why:
- Your child will learn to trust himself and their ability to find what he needs in the world.
- You and your child can live a full rich life starting now – not waiting until later (after 18, after graduation, after they’re worn out from jumping through other people’s hoops)
- You get to discover what are your child’s true interests – they won’t have to wait for years into adulthood to figure them out.
- Your family bonds can be prioritized and healthier than they ever could have been.
- Your child knows that when you tell them that their learning is really theirs – you mean it.
- You are truly in charge of your own lives – what an adventure together you’ll have!
So hopefully this helps you feel a little more confident in walking away from the curriculum purchases. Think how much more money that will leave for you to spend on museum memberships, waterpark passes, theatre seasons, road trips - so many more FUN ways to explore and learn about the world!
Thanks for hanging out with me today!
I'm on a mission to help parents know they have choices - no one has to stay miserable!
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