Enhanced – read by the author

Before You Give Up on Your Curriculum
Before You Give Up on Your Curriculum

onfession time. I admit it. I am that homeschool mom. In seven years of homeschooling, we have tried a total of five different core curricula. We have experimented with four different approaches to math. I have a library of resource books on my shelf that “look so good!” and “would be so much fun!” But there they sit, dousing me with a cold bucket of failure every time I walk past them. I am sure they are so good, but, this busy mama of four never really had time to try them out past the first lesson or two. So now, instead of shopping the used curriculum sales, there I sit at my selling table, trying to pass curriculum off to the next naive and insecure homeschool mama pushing the stroller and wrangling a preschooler or two and maybe passing back a few of my wasted dollars in the meantime.

About a year and a half ago, I began to ask myself, “Why?” Why can’t I seem to find the curriculum “niche” that I fit into? Why am I consistently frustrated and frazzled with how our homeschool is going? Why are we lacking peace and joy in our home when I know this is what we are called to as a family? Why do my kids keep putting up with me when I teeter-totter between the sweet sit-on-the-couch-and-read-with-you-and-isn’t-learning-fun mommy to the beastly, bug-eyed, don’t-you-dare-get-out-of-your-seat-again-until-you-finish-your-entire-mathbook-and-you’re-not-eating-til-it’s-done-monster mom? This is when the Lord impressed clearly into my heart these words:

Less Doing. More Being.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. You hem me in behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.”
–Psalm 139: 5, 14
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of Your hands.”
–Psalm 138:8

I believe these verses for my children, but do I believe them for myself? Do I believe He made me wonderfully just as I am? Do I believe His hand is upon me and that He has a purpose for me for which I am fully equipped?

Instead of always striving a bit harder to find that perfect cutting-edge curriculum that would make us the model homeschool family and send my kids to college with full scholarships, God said, “Stop striving to be someone you think you should be. Be who I created you to be.” God made me who I am. He gave me the interests and talents I have. God gave me the children He did for a reason and wants me to love and teach them by being who I am. What more priceless truth can I model for my children than submitting to God and allowing Him to use me according to His plan? So I began to revaluate my approach to homeschooling. I revisited our goals.

Here are four things near to our homeschooling heart.

1 | We desire to take seriously our responsibility to disciple our children.

The most critical thing I can do as a parent is model a genuine love for the Lord and service to others while helping my children develop a Biblical worldview and encouraging growth in their own faith.

2 | We desire to emphasize the process of learning as greater than or equal to the products of learning.

We want our children to be able to discern truth from error, to solve problems, and to think critically about the world around them. That our children become thinkers is more important to us than making the grade.

3 | We desire that our children develop a life-long love of learning that will extend far beyond a grade level or degree.

God created us with an amazing capacity for learning and developing new skills and gave children a natural sense of great curiosity. We never want to limit learning to a school setting.

4 | We desire to help our children discover their gifts, talents, and interests and to help prepare them to be fully equipped to fulfill their God-given purpose.

What a privilege to help our children discover the things that make them unique and encourage them toward excellence for the glory of God! These goals make education in our home much more than a curriculum. In fact, no curriculum on the market, no matter how cutting-edge, will truly be perfectly capable of meeting these goals for us.

But God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, loaned these children to us. In His strength, He equipped us to be the parents that our children need. He wants me to be the authentic person He intended me to be in order to reach their hearts.

So for me, that meant letting these prayerful goals guide our educational decisions. It meant praying that He would lead me to the curriculum that would most fit us and help me tailor it to accomplish our goals. It also meant work for me. I hate to be the bearer of difficult news, but there is no perfect one-size fits all curriculum! I will always have to consider the needs of my family and individual children and make decisions to better our curriculum choices. The curriculum is meant to serve you and act as a guide on your journey, but it does not educate your children. You do.

“We desire to emphasize the process of learning as greater than or equal to the products of learning.”

Yes, we use our curriculum to provide us with a good academic base, but it is not the complete educational tool. Our education also includes a knitting class. It includes a separate spelling program for one child who needs a stronger base. It means we volunteer at a nursing home once a week. We visit the library on a regular basis. It means we stop to take a rabbit trail now and then to study something that interests us. We look for opportunities to spend time developing family relationships and encouraging one another. It means I become that homeschool mom. The one who trusts the Lord more than her curriculum and seeks to discover who we are more than what we can do.

So before you decide to change your curriculum, see if you need to change your focus. What is at the heart of your homeschooling?

sara signature
Sara Butt headshot

ara Butt is a former elementary school teacher, a 15-year homeschooling veteran, and curriculum author. She currently lives with her family in Dayton, TN where she assists her husband, Keath, a lifelong youth pastor, and teaches for local middle school and high school co-ops where she loves to encourage students to become lifelong learners and pursue their God-given gifts and passions. She is the author of the Trail Guide to Learning Junior Extensions and is currently working on a second edition of the Paths of Progress curriculum.