I recently read a Twitter chat between a cluster of homeschooling moms mourning that one had recently been asked which curriculum to use for a three-year-old. Although these moms were well-intentioned in their encouragement of one another allowing young children to learn naturally, their very public chat seemed to simultaneously outcast a different group of homeschooling parents, possibly the ones who lean toward a more traditional approach or who are new to homeschooling in general. Although I tend to agree with many of these women’s philosophies now, I felt compassion for this anonymous woman asking about curriculum. At one point, I would have asked the same. I didn’t have a clue about homeschooling when we began, and although I felt confident as a parent, my traditional public schooling had created a sort of dualism within me regarding education: things I learned at home and things I learned at school. Over the last few years, these artificial walls have been crumbling, and I’m becoming more relaxed and confident with my own style and my own children’s triumphs and struggles. But it hasn’t always been this way. In the beginning, I planned and organized and used more formal curriculums at younger ages. I wanted my kids to be school-educated–an isolated category in my mind at the time. Most importantly, I wanted to alleviate that nagging question, “had we done the right thing?”
Perhaps that word right or best is the most confounding when removed from a specific context. For instance, what is right in relation to how we each learn or manage our family? The beauty of parenting is the unique journey. As parents, we will always have something to teach and something to learn. This is how we come to need other people in our lives–even when we choose different paths. Even within households, parents will vary in degrees, and children can be as different as moon and sun, connected and individual in purpose and disposition. At five, one of my children balked at math lessons while another at the same age requested them. One of my children learned to read fluently at four and another not until age seven. I have friends whose older children still struggle with reading for various reasons. They have learned other ways to inspire their children’s learning in the process. I know parents who formally structure their days and others who allow their children to choose the day’s agenda. I know amazing parents who homeschool, who particpate in part-time homeschool programs, and plenty who send their kids to school and find ways to enrich their education during breaks and summers. Is there a right way? Certainly not. And I hope that in this process, we are always generous with grace for one another and our children. Educational preferences and learning styles are as personal as any other family routine. There can be overlap with another family’s choices, but in the end, it’s your story; be courageous and considerate when sharing your own.
*I took this image on my phone, so it’s a little grainy.