Many parents have reached out to me recently asking about homeschooling and alternative education options. Many of them know that we homeschooled for several years, had started a homeschool co-op and transitioned it to a small school, and they are looking for insights as they think through what their children’s education will look like next year. To address some of the most common questions I’m getting, and help others who are likely having some of the same questions, I thought I would write a series of posts that address some of the most common questions.
I also want to provide some additional resources, mostly books and podcasts, that I consider “must reads” if you’re considering homeschooling specifically or thinking about school alternatives in general. You’ll find these at the end of each post, so if you want to skip everything I say, feel free to skip to the linked resources at the bottom 🙂
The first question parents ask me is usually about curriculum. What did we use when we homeschooled, and what do we use at Acton?
While I realize that this is what everyone wants to talk about, this is actually a much more difficult question than it may initially appear to be on the surface (and most people already think it’s a hard question; that’s why they are asking the question!). The curriculum that’s right for you is the one that fits your goals for your children’s education. So, grab a pad of paper and a pencil and make a list of what your goals are for your children’s education.
I’ll stop here and give you some time to think. Don’t shortcut this. Don’t ask someone else what their goals are. Take a few minutes and really think. What are your goals for your children’s education?
As you wrestle with this question, it might be helpful to imagine that you knew you would die tomorrow. What is the final message that you would give your children about their learning and work?
Would your message be: Get good grades, get into college and get a good job; or, discover your God-given gifts and use them to help others; or, don’t worry, be happy; or, something else?
Now that you have your list. I’ll share some of the goals Ryan and I developed years ago for our children’s education.
First, we desired that our children have time to play and just be kids, which we believe is critical to helping them learn to solve their own problems, control their impulses, modulate their emotions, see from others’ perspectives, negotiate differences, and get along with others as equals.
We also desired that they be curious lifelong learners who had developed self-management, self-governance, and Godly character. We wanted them to develop high-level communication skills, critical thinking skills and the ability to collaborate well with others, while learning how to learn and having opportunities to dive deeply into areas of their greatest passions and gifts. Finally, we wanted them to live lives of purpose, meaning and passion.
While I know that I started this post with a question about curriculum, in Part 2, I want to address mindset. Clearly defining your goals for your children’s education and having the right mindset are absolutely critical before even thinking about curriculum.