By Tamara Eaton
Online message boards and support groups are great ways for homeschooling
families to share information about curriculum and teaching methods. We all
like to go beyond reading the paid advertisements or professional reviews to
learn from the experience of "real families". But in doing this,
it's important to realize that there are as many different opinions of the
BEST curriculum and methods as there are homeschooling families! Think of
all the variations: personalities, income, number and ages of children,
strengths and weaknesses, backgrounds, goals and philosophies. No wonder we
don't always agree!
When we first began to homeschool, there were few choices in curriculum and
practically no homeschool curriculum developers at all. Homeschooling families
were few and scattered so we rarely had the opportunity to discuss various
curriculum or methods with peers. Instead, we were forced to do the best
thing possible --DEPEND ON GOD.
The benefits of supporting one another in homeschooling and sharing ideas
and experiences are enormous --we've managed online homeschool message boards
for years and we're convinced these are valuable resources. God's Word exhorts
us over and over to encourage one another in His Ways and this is one way we
can support one another as we all seek to glorify God in our homeschooling. But
let's make sure we don't allow our peers or even a "Christian"
curriculum to replace the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants
to lead our families in His Will and teach us His Truth --everything we
hear or see should be "filtered" through Him and His Word!
Most homeschooling support groups --whether online or off, take on the
"flavor" of the most vocal members of the group. We've observed
groups take on the following "flavors": "traditional school at
home", relaxed homeschooling, unschooling, unit studies, Charlotte Mason
methods and eclectic styles. Can you imagine how confusing it can be to a new
homeschooler who flits from group to group, trying to decide which one is
In our enthusiasm for the method or materials that have worked best for our
family, sometimes we make the mistake of thinking these are best for EVERY
family. We've learned through the years that this isn't the case, nor do we
even use the same methods and materials for each child. Sometimes what worked
once, no longer works so we learn to stay flexible and open to new ways of
Here are some principles that have helped us over the years in choosing
homeschooling materials and methods:
* Pray for wisdom and direction from the Lord! He promises to lead
you in EVERY decision you make if you trust Him. (James 1:5-6)
* Write down priorities and goals for your children's education. If
you don't know where to start, prayerfully read the book of Proverbs, as well
as articles and books on homeschooling. Jot down notes when what you are
reading seems to confirm God's will for your family.
For example, our family's number one goal is for each of our children to
be wholehearted, devoted Christians who glorify the Lord in their lives.
Everything we do in our parenting, in our homeschooling, reflects this goal.
We're teaching them the Word of God, to love it, to believe it, and to stand
upon it. We're teaching them how to apply the Word to their lives and how to
discern the will of God and hear His voice. We want each one to develop an
intimate relationship with Jesus --really knowing Him and trusting Him! So
any materials we choose would support our number one goal and not detract from
Not all "Christian" curriculum is in line with what the Bible
teaches. It's important to use discernment and not assume it's Biblically
sound just because a Christian wrote or recommended it. Check it out! We
all must answer to the Lord for what we're teaching our children --whether it
lines up with His Word or not. But fear not, the Lord hasn't left us to our
own devices --He's promised to lead us and give us understanding of the
truth by His Holy Spirit if we look to Him. (John 16:13) This
doesn't mean that we never use "secular" books or texts, but we do
make sure we explain or skip any areas that don't line up with God's Word and
* We want our children to enjoy learning all their lives, not to view it
as drudgery or limited to "school time". So as a result of this
goal, we look for ways to make learning fun while they're young and stress the
basic tools they need to begin to learn on their own as soon as they're able.
* We're blessed with a large family so we prefer to teach concepts as
simply as possible and use materials that don't require too much advance
preparation. Any curriculum requiring too much fuss generally ended up in
our closet, gathering dust!
* As our children mature and become well-grounded in the basic tools of
reading, writing, and math, as well as in good study and research skills, we
desire that they become more independent learners. So we choose materials
that are conducive to this particular goal.
We've shared specifics about choosing curriculum in other articles, as well
as discussed developing a homeschool method or style to fit your own family,
so our main purpose in this article is to encourage you to not get sidetracked
or confused by all you read and hear about the various homeschool materials. Instead,
take time to seek the Lord and give Him the opportunity to lead your family to
the best curriculum for you!
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt
go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psalm 32:8)
"Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy
truth, and teach me..." (Psalm 25:4-5)
"Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy
commandments." (Psalm 119:66)
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all
liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask
in faith..." (James 1:5-6)
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how
you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as
His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit
publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the
copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the
publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high
school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their
homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information,
please join us on the Christian Homeschool
Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your
message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient email
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."