I get asked quite a few questions about homeschooling. What curriculum is the best? How do you handle upper level math? What is the best way to teach a child to read? How do you teach multiple ages? Why did you choose this over that?
Along the way, I’ve realized that there’s a bigger question being asked, one that arches over all the smaller, more specific ones and is begging to be answered:
Is there a wrong way to homeschool?
No one has asked me the question outright, but if they did, here’s what I’d say:
If you’re putting a checklist before your child’s needs, you’re doing it wrong. If the family pet dies but darn in, you’re doing school anyhow… or if your child is reading at a fourth grade level but you bought those phonics workbooks and he’s going to use them, you’re doing it wrong.
If you are ignoring developmental signs, you’re doing it wrong. Maybe the scope and sequence of that math program says your son ought to be dividing, but he has yet to master multiplication tables. Maybe your second grader is struggling to hold a pencil long enough to write a whole sentence without tears and frustration, but your sister-in-law says it’s time to move to paragraphs. If you haven’t paced your homeschool to allow for your individual child’s development, or if you aren’t willing to stop and allow your child to master a skill in his own time with your continued, hands-on encouragement, you’re doing it wrong.
If you are neglecting your personal relationship with your child, you’re doing it wrong. It’s easy to get caught up in being Teacher. But rules without relationship equal rebellion and friends, that is not a price you want to pay. If your homeschooling has taken you out of the role of Momma and solely into Tutor, you’re doing it wrong.
If you have placed academics above Jesus, you’re doing it wrong. God didn’t place that soul in your care so that you’d train her up to love, serve, and worship Algebra. It’s all about Jesus. All of it. If you’ve lost that focus, if the Gospel has become a marginal part of your homeschool, you’re doing it wrong.
If you say you homeschool but you never actually do, you’re doing it wrong. Sure, life is the school. Sometimes. But be honest with yourself. If there’s zero progress in your kids besides their ability to recite the t.v. schedule or “self educate” via YouTube, you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re trying to copy someone else’s homeschool to achieve the exact same results, you’re doing it wrong. It would really lovely if there was a formula that would guarantee that your kids would be as perfect as her kids. (Spoiler: her kids aren’t perfect.) But if you’re taking notes on how to be someone you aren’t, and how to fit your kids into the mold set by another family, you’re doing it wrong.
Notice how not a single thought from my list has to do with methodology? Notice how none of them say that you need to be doing this math program, or buying this book, or going to this co-op? That’s because you can use any literature guide you’d like… and not be wrong. Sure— it can be wrong for your family, but that doesn’t make it all around wrong. When it comes to homeschooling, wrong is a pretty narrow path, and right is wide open, customizable for every family and situation.
You want to know how I do science with my kids, or when we tackle Shakespeare? Sure. I can tell you—and explain the whys and hows behind those choices. But if you feel led to something else, well… you’re not doing it wrong. You’re just doing it differently, and that is not wrong at all.