When I tell people that we don't follow a specific curriculum. The top questions I get is "but how do you know you won't miss teaching them something important?
So today, for the 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials, I thought I'd share why the above question doesn't worry me.
The ESSENTIAL thing for my children to learn is to know and love God.
As I start to plan a new school year, the only thing that I absolutely, positively, make sure we include in our plan is Bible, twice a day (morning and evening). For everything else, I consider what we have going on, and what everyone's interests are, and usually after that I have to weed things out so that we can actually fit everything in.
Bible is important to me because, above all else, I want my children to know, and love, God. I want them to grow up realizing that God is more important than anything else. And I'm sooo thankful that my children love our Bible studies and Lexie and Ashlyn got really upset last summer when we were reviewing a Bible curriculum that didn't challenge them. They love our Bible discussions and were frustrated when we didn't do them. That is the essential for our family!
So, what about the rest? Here's what I've come to realize over the last several years. . . Children (or anyone) don't remember things that they "learn" but aren't interested in, and don't use. Think about it. How much do YOU remember from school? I remember basic algebra, because I use basic algebra, but if you asked me to write a geometry proof, I wouldn't even know where to start. Even subjects that I LIKED, like history, I've discovered I have forgotten SO MUCH that I'm sure I learned in school! And you know what that tells me? That if I happen to miss "teaching" them something they'd have been taught in school, who cares?!?! If it's not something they are interested in, and are going to use, they're not going to remember it anyway, there's so much available to learn, nobody can learn all there is to know about everything, so why stress about what we might miss?
Instead, we focus on learning things they're interested in. Do I sometimes insist on something? Yes. Right now, while they understand the concept of multiplication a gazillion times better than I did at their age, they haven't memorized the times tables, and as they move into longer division, that is giving them fits. They think they don't like division, but in reality, it's because they haven't memorized the multiplication tables, and if you can't look at it and quickly determine how many times 8 goes into 58, it's frustrating. They're having a hard time understanding that memorizing the times tables is the missing piece, so we're struggling with that, but, on the other hand, if they don't want to memorize the dates of the Civil War, I don't really care, they CAN tell you about the major battles of the war, and why the war was fought and can expertly compare and contrast the Civil War and the American Revolution.
So what about the laws in our state? We are required to include all subjects in our homeschool. I've NEVER had any trouble with that. My kids LOVE to learn! And when you learn through hands-on methods and unit studies, and reading real books, all kinds of things get lumped nicely together. While they may be struggling with multiplication, it's never occurred to them that fractions are "hard", they've been doing math with fractions since they were 6 or 7, when we cook, and make a double recipe or half a recipe or, a recipe and a half (they do glare at me when I suggest that, but they DO it, without any problem.
Language arts are covered by reading and writing about things that interest them, and, as they are ready, they ask for help learning about spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. When it's THEIR idea, it's easy to teach, they want to learn it, they realize that their writing doesn't look like the writing in the books that read, and we work on it.
Music was an area where, one year, I realized we weren't doing much with, so I discussed it with them as we planned the next year, the result . . . music lessons, and they are THRIVING!! While some of my friends complain about how hard it is to make their children practice, I've never once had to do anything more than help them schedule the time when our life is busy, I don't think I've ever heard either of them say "I don't want to!" BUT, it was their idea (the fact that they have an awesome music teacher who is AMAZING with them, doesn't hurt either).
So, it's essential to teach your children to love learning, and encourage and grow that love through your homeschooling, but don't get too hung up on making sure you're teaching them the same checklist of items they'd learn in a classroom, or that your friend's homeschooled child is learning.
To see what 80+ other homeschoolers think is essential this week, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog. Here's some of them:
Lisa @ Our Simple Kinda Life
Tabitha @ The Homeschool Four
Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas
Amy @ Counting Change. . . Again
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Gena @ I Choose Joy!
Adena @ AdenaF
Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker