With the joy and sunshine of spring comes this very familiar reader question each year:
“I feel like the end of this school year is coming much faster that I want it to, and I’m worried that I need to finish every textbook and lesson from the curriculum that we’re using right now. I don’t want to rush through it, and I’m also fairly certain I’ll be making some curriculum changes going forward. Do we need to finish curriculum by summer? Can I start something new even if we don’t finish curriculum we have now?”
I remember feeling exactly the same way in the spring of our first homeschooling year. We had been using My Father’s World, and although I really loved the books that came in the boxed package, my daughters and I desired a more integrated learning experience than the suggested lesson plan offered. So we had supplemented with lots of additional reading, movies, projects, and field trips — and I found myself quite “behind” when it came to finishing all of the provided material.
After talking to my husband, my sister-in-law, and supportive homeschooling mama friends, I realized I didn’t have a clear homeschooling “mission” for our family. Was our goal to replicate traditional classroom school at home? What was more important: Checking off boxes on a to-do list from a curriculum publisher or encouraging my daughters to think outside the box and develop a love for learning? Why are we homeschooling in the first place?
After much prayer, discussion with my husband, and seeking God’s word for wisdom, we developed a clear mission statement for our family’s homeschool. Against this new mission statement, the answer to my dilemma was quite clear: No, I don’t need to finish all this material for the sake of “finishing” the school year.
A traditional school approach is not our standard, and neither is the lesson plan of any particular curriculum publisher — or the pace and process of other homeschooling families we know. And I don’t think these external influences should limit you, either.
“God is an out-of-the-box Creator: Give yourself permission to homeschool outside the box. I give you permission to tear the box open and let yourself out.”
Even though I’m very happy with the curriculum we’re using now (Trail Guide to Learning) as the “spine” to our homeschooling, it was encouraging to hear these words from a homeschool veteran who’s been in our shoes and found freedom and success in her homeschooling journey. I find that at this time of year, I do need to remind myself that our “why” is more important than “how” we homeschool. So I give YOU permission to tear the box open, let yourself out, discover your family’s why, and make decisions that support your mission!
Do you feel compelled to check off every to-do in your curriculum’s lesson plan? Are you worried about being able to finish curriculum before the planned end to your homeschool year? Have you ever felt the need to make changes before a curriculum package was completed? How did you turn things around for you and your children?