It’s that time of year again! Home­school con­fer­ence sea­son is upon us. Are you going to one this year? What do you like best about the con­fer­ence you attend? Do you like to get inspired by the var­i­ous work­shops and speak­ers? Do you love to thumb through all the cur­ricu­lum (cur­ric­ula?)? Or do you sim­ply enjoy the oppor­tu­nity to visit with friends that you know or meet there?

For so many peo­ple, their home­school con­fer­ence means cur­ricu­lum. They love to touch it, put eyes on it, pour over the var­i­ous options. I, too, love to see it in per­son before I make a final deci­sion. It’s great!

In the vendor hall with Peyton

In the ven­dor hall with Peyton

I often have peo­ple ask me what cur­ricu­lum we choose. To be hon­est, when we finally landed on our cho­sen cur­ricu­lum, I was so excited about what we had found that I wanted every­one who was home­school­ing or con­sid­er­ing home­school­ing to know what we were using. I thought it was the PERFECT choice! It had every­thing that I thought we’d need to home­school suc­cess­fully. {I shud­der at how obnox­ious I likely was!} And, mostly, I have been very happy with my choice. I haven’t felt a need to change much of what we have been doing for these last 15 years or so. But my per­spec­tive has changed sub­stan­tially over the years. I’m not quite as quick to share what we use. I actu­ally hes­i­tate to tell any­one what we use. I have learned that it isn’t the be all and end all for me or any­one else. Cur­ricu­lum never is, no mat­ter what the shiny brochures tell you.

I have learned that cur­ricu­lum is just a tool. It makes no guar­an­tees. Well, if it does, I’d be seri­ously con­cerned. A par­tic­u­lar cur­ricu­lum can­not promise that your child will be a doc­tor, a lawyer, or a can­dle­stick maker.  What I have dis­cov­ered, and maybe I am way slower than every­one else out there, is that what really mat­ters is that we spend those impor­tant years teach­ing our chil­dren about Jesus, about doc­trine, about for­give­ness, and about lov­ing our neigh­bors. With­out this very basic empha­sis, we are wast­ing our time.

I have also learned that char­ac­ter far out­weighs find­ing the solu­tion to a math prob­lem. Some­times that char­ac­ter is found in the pain of find­ing the answer to that math prob­lem, to be sure. But the true prize is the char­ac­ter, not the value of x. All the books and courses in the world won’t be worth much of any­thing if your chil­dren lack char­ac­ter. You can put the best math books in front of your son, but if is too lazy to work the prob­lems, he will never learn it, much less apply it! We tend to spend so much time and effort find­ing the per­fect cur­ricu­lum, but for­get to think about how impor­tant it is to develop char­ac­ter. We don’t need char­ac­ter train­ing books for this. We need the Bible. And we just need to live with our chil­dren and pay a lit­tle bit of atten­tion to them. We also need to look in the mir­ror and teach them about humil­ity and repen­tance by being an exam­ple to them by our actions and words when we are wrong and sin against the peo­ple in our home. I find that this can be a daunt­ing task, but it is a must for every Chris­t­ian home.

Also, the cur­ricu­lum needs to be thor­oughly Chris­t­ian. World­view really does mat­ter. If your child is tak­ing in the philos­phy of the pagans all day, at the expressed or non-expressed approval of the experts (you and your hus­band), he or she is going to believe what it teaches. If it teaches that Cre­ation is a myth or just one of sev­eral optional beliefs, then they are likely going to pick up on that and believe it. If you put books in front of your chil­dren that teach that his­tory is ran­dom, with chance being the only con­stant, then they likely won’t see God’s hand through­out all of his­tory. Alter­na­tively, if you emerse your chil­dren in God-honoring and God-fearing cur­ricu­lum, they will learn that see­ing the world from God’s per­spec­tive is the obvi­ous way to look at things. While it can be very time con­sum­ming, and we won’t get it right all the time, we must make every effort to place before our chil­dren books and infor­ma­tion that will build a strong foun­da­tion before we try to place the antithe­sis before them to ana­lyze. Some chil­dren can han­dle the antithe­sis more read­ily and eas­ily than other chil­dren. So, what we choose to expose them to and when to do so will be some­thing we need to care­fully weigh for each child. Unlike a pub­lic or pri­vate school set­ting, home­school­ers get to man­age the infor­ma­tion that goes into the stu­dents based on each indi­vid­ual stu­dent. What a great priv­i­lege we have!

How­ever, my favorite part of the con­fer­ence is hear­ing the var­i­ous speak­ers share their wis­dom and heart to those in atten­dance. We have learned so much from many con­fer­ence speak­ers. One such speaker, 13 years ago in Cal­i­for­nia, opened our eyes to a vision for our fam­ily that we never imag­ined or even con­sid­ered pos­si­ble. He asked the men in the room, “Men, do you have a vision for your fam­ily?” My hus­band relates that he felt like he had been hit by a 2x4. Vision? A man can have one of those for his FAMILY? I mean, my hard work­ing, devoted hus­band had great vision for his job. He had huge plans. And he was liv­ing them. But, for his fam­ily? He has a say in that? And it mat­ters? Appar­ently so. And our fam­ily has never been the same since. Sure, we still strug­gle. We have issues. We are human, and we are sin­ners. But, we have a plan, more or less. My husband’s focus changed from one of self-serving, career build­ing, man pleas­ing pur­suits to look­ing at his fam­ily, serv­ing us, lead­ing us, teach­ing us, invest­ing in me and our chil­dren. And God has led my hus­band in a beau­ti­ful way as he relies on Him. My hus­band was once a reluc­tant home­school­ing dad. He allowed me to home­school as long as I did every­thing right. Send­ing the kids back to pub­lic school was a threat that always hung over my head. As long as I didn’t mess up (what­ever that meant), and my hus­band was “allowed” to con­tinue to pur­sue his career, all was well. But now, thanks to God open­ing his eyes at that con­fer­ence all those years ago, he is a strong advo­cate of parent-led edu­ca­tion, of fathers lead­ing their fam­i­lies in right­eous­ness to the cross daily for their encour­age­ment and growth and for­give­ness. He’s a dif­fer­ent man. I didn’t shove it down his throat. I didn’t lead him to this. I didn’t “force” him to lead his fam­ily. {I find that con­cept odd.} God, in His per­fect tim­ing, showed my hus­band a bet­ter way to lead his fam­ily than what he was doing.

All from a talk at a home­school conference.

I want to encour­age you not to get bogged down by all the choices and flash of cur­ricu­lum. I find that it can make me feel so inad­e­quate about our lit­tle school. Are we doing art? What about sci­ence projects? Sports? For­eign lan­guages? Music? What are we miss­ing? Oh, what’s down this aisle? Geog­ra­phy, geol­ogy, geometry…Oh, my! Spend some time before your con­fer­ence, fig­ure out what your goals are for this next year. Dis­cuss them with your hus­band and chil­dren, and don’t be afraid to tweak some things. Make a list of what you need. If you can get ahold of the list of ven­dor hall booths before you go, take a look and see where you can shop for what you need. Get what you came for, put them in your car, and then go soak up some encour­age­ment from the speak­ers. You can look at cur­ricu­lum all year long online. But, that won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to be fed some encour­age­ment by moth­ers and fathers who have been doing this for years is price­less. Please, don’t defeat your­self before you even start the new year. You can­not do it all. I know you know it. But, it is so easy to lose that focus. And it is so easy to get frus­trated. Soak up the godly coun­sel, the hope­ful words spo­ken. And the hard words. We all need some hard words, too. But they are for our good, and the good of our chil­dren, to help wake us up from our slumber.

So, what cur­ricu­lum do I use? Who cares? It’s just a tool. It’s so much more impor­tant that I love God, honor my hus­band, love my chil­dren, and teach them to love the Lord with all their strength, heart, mind, and soul. The rest will fall in place as the Lord ordains.


Photo credit: jim­miehome­school­mom / / CC BY

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  1. Aha! I just wrote about this very topic yes­ter­day! Great minds think alike. 😉

    • I just went over there are read your post this after­noon! Very well stated. I should have just read yours and then directed every­one over there. 😉 Thanks so much for telling me about it. I really am enjoy­ing your blog!

  2. But, as I’m research­ing, I am really curi­ous now to know what cur­ricu­lum you use and like!

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