On the run, just need to say this about homeschooling

The beauty of stepping out of the conventional education mainstream into homeschooling is the freedom. But there is one thing I want to tell you, as you scroll through photos of the highly organized and fully developed curricula that some mothers display and all the catalogues offer. I need you to know something as you contemplate expensive and highly developed systems for educating your child at home.

It has to do with your goal. It’s diabolically easy to substitute one goal for another, and to inadvertently order all your priorities towards the wrong ending point. So be sure that you are aiming to offer your child a good education so that he can learn. Take care that you are not working this hard to achieve the status of completely organized homeschool parent who Teaches All the Things.

Those two things could be the same. But the likelihood that you would be completely organized is, I hate to tell you, very low. Sorry. And there are a lot of things that could be taught… I think it’s actually not possible to teach them all. The world is so full of a number of things that we might end up as worried as kings!

Striving for a picture-perfect curriculum, all squared away before school even starts, is unrealistic. (It’s even unrealistic to think you’d find a school anywhere, at any cost, that could provide these things). If that is your goal, stated or not, it’s no wonder you experience anxiety and a sense of defeat before you even start.

A good warning sign is when you open Instagram and see someone’s Super Snazzy Classical Course of Study all laid out in her perfectly arranged dedicated schoolroom, you experience panic rather than inspiration.

That warning is helpful, so don’t respond by giving up on homeschooling, ordering more unneeded books, or having a cocktail (save that for later, more as a reward than a prophylactic). It indicates a few things that you really can do in your own actual life:

  • Start again with your menus, laundry, and Reasonably Clean House. These things come naturally (or have been achieved by the hard work of instituting new habits) for the gal you wish was you. They are the basis of the learning environment that is your home. The wonder of learning springs from the order of life.
  • Be wise about your circumstances. If you have just moved, had a new baby, or otherwise experienced some big life change, you are in a different situation. In another season, you might be able to take a photo of what you are doing and have it look pretty darned impressive. But that’s not actually a goal. Sometimes taking a picture helps us see things in a new way (as does the peaceful practice of looking in the window at dusk, when all has been tidied). But it’s not really a goal. The goal is to live life as it has been given to us.
  • Remember that we don’t quite know how children learn. It doesn’t follow that buying the most amazing products or even having your home resplendent with busts of philosophers results in education. Reading biographies of interesting and accomplished people, as well as consulting our own experience, can help us see that learning occurs in the most random ways, sometimes with the rawest and most austere materials. On the other hand, it’s also true that the basics are called that for a reason. The collective memory has identified certain factors without which those moments of wonder can’t really occur. They are necessary, if insufficient, elements, and it’s all too easy to ignore them when we are bombarded with the plethora of goods offered for sale.
  • Be at peace, knowing that interested, lively, moderately obedient children will learn, and that you are doing your best. Simply keeping them from the destructive forces of mass corralling of kids in institutions goes a long way to this, the really important goal, that the child learns. The goal of appearing to have it all together is nothing compared to it.

All these matters are ones I’ve discussed here at length — simply go up to the menu bar and click on the topic! Be at peace, because God will give you the grace you need to educate your children!

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