Homeschooling When Your Curriculum Doesn’t Quite Match Your Convictions

Our family began homeschooling ten years ago.  My oldest daughter was three, and I couldn’t wait to get started!  We perused catalog after catalog, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted my children to learn through living books.  I have always loved to read, and I wanted my children to catch the bug as well.

I also adored the Charlotte Mason method.  It is defined as:

A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.

We purchased a complete curriculum from Sonlight and dove in.  We used Sonlight for the majority of our homeschool until my oldest was in the third grade.  That year I really began to be overwhelmed by the sheer time commitment involved.  I had a third grader, a second grader, a kindergartener, and a 2 year old.  I also had just started a home-based business.  We decided to research other homeschooling options.  I began looking at dreaded textbooks, which is something I said I would never use!  I reluctantly purchased our first textbook curriculum about four years ago.

Our new arrangement has been going rather nicely.  Sometimes I do not cover everything I would like, but our children are getting a well-rounded education.  We feel like we are following God’s leading, and I usually do not compare our family to other families.  A few days ago however, I learned of a new homeschooler in our community who has a kindergartener and a 2-year-old.  Their family is “complete” with two children.   I began thinking about teaching kindergarten to my oldest, and how we would sit on the couch and read for hours.  Little hands would excitedly complete almost daily art projects.  I would even pre-plan free play in order to integrate new concepts and vocabulary!

I felt a smidge of jealousy.  Tears began to fall.  These two children will most certainly learn more and receive more individualized attention than my children, I thought.  My youngest children will never experience the things that my oldest children did educationally.

My sweet husband lovingly brought me back to reality.  God has given us these children.  He is sufficient.  He will provide all that they need if we keep our trust in Him.

I am reminded that when I am weak, He is strong.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Even when I feel like I’m not “covering” it all, I know that God will fill in the gaps.  Though we do not have as much reading time and hands on activities in our home as before, my children are learning!  We fill our home with books…I love searching thrift stores almost weekly for these precious finds.  We visit the library frequently.  We take local field trips as much as possible.  Above all, we fill our homeschool with God’s truth.

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My daughter at a local art museum.
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Searching for bats at Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

I am now homeschooling a 8th grader, 7th grader, 5th grader, and a 2nd grader.  I also have a three-year-old who wants to dive headfirst into “school,” and a 10 month old.  I’ve cut back on my business, but that takes up some of my time as well.  Our youngest children are learning so much by listening in on our older children’s school time, which is a huge blessing in disguise!  We are using an eclectic mix of Christian Light Education, Rod and Staff, AOP Lifepacs, and Apologia Science this year.  Our homeschool does not look exactly the way I had originally envisioned.  But my children are learning God’s truth…with me as a guide…at home.  I really cannot ask for anything more.

Written by Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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About Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

11 Thoughts on “Homeschooling When Your Curriculum Doesn’t Quite Match Your Convictions

  1. Thanks for your article. I , too, struggle each moment it seems with thinking I am not doing the best for my children, concerned about what they ARE not learning, and then the Lord reminds me that HE is the head of my life and HE is able to handle it all for me. I continuing to just do my best, pray, and I believe all will be well. With God as our head, how can we go wrong? Blessings to you.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this, Nicole. Your words helped me to realize what is truly important, even more than our “lesson plans!” If I may ask, what is your work-at-home business?

  3. Have a great year and don’t worry too much that you can’t do things the way you want to and have to use textbooks. You are doing a great job I am sure! Blessings to you and have a wonderful school year.

    We think alike it seems, and I would love to do one style (CM style) but with so many I cannot ever seem to make it work so I also do many textbooks but I lean toward teaching them all together in some subjects, like foreign language, history, geography, science. It works well for us!

  4. What curriculum ever could match one’s convictions? Curriculum isn’t infallible. Whatever ends up working, that was the thing! The trick is finding it, right?

  5. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your thoughts and your heart in this post. We Mamas are awfully hard on ourselves, thinking we have to ‘do school’ just a certain way ( just like that other family, or that well-know bloggy mom, or whoever) – but by God’s grace we can give them what they need, in a manner that works for our family. I’m so thankful for the freedoms we still have to make choices.
    I’m schooling a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader and 2nd grader this year, but have no more little ones. That’s very strange to me – a new season. Enjoy your upcoming school year!

  6. So glad I found your blog in the hop! I understand how you feel… I have eight children ages 12 down to newborn. The seventh has major medical needs that take over our schedule regularly. I think you hit it on the head, our younger ones learn so much because they are surrounded by learning activities of their older siblings. Things I had to be purposeful to teach my oldest, like colors and numbers, the younger ones pick up from sibs. Have a blessed year! If you want to check out my curriculum plans you can. This year I have 7th, 3rd, 2nd, K, and 4 little ones: http://ourbusyhomeschool.com/2013-2014-curriculum-large-family-style/

  7. starting my 5 year old this year. I was not home schooled but my husband was. His parents now teach at a Christian day school using the ACE curriculum. that’s what we’re planning to use, because they are very familiar with it and can help me. I think it will work well for my first child and we’ll have to see how it goes from there. I’m glad for all the resources and support that are now available to home schooling families.

  8. Sarah D. on October 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm said:

    I was homeschooled and am now beginning with my children (ages 5yo, 3 1/2yo, 1 1/2yo, and expecting =) ). I really appreciated this post! So many days, I feel as if I’m failing in the teaching department, like you mentioned with your feelings in regard to the 2 child family. With God’s help, my children will learn everything they need. Even when I’m too tired.

  9. Lara Dolloff on November 24, 2016 at 8:13 pm said:

    I love Sonlight! I do know that it takes a long time to complete a day’s work, but my kids love what they are learning and are enjoying school this year! I think that it’s more important for school to take a longer time and loving it, rather then school taking a shorter time and the kids not learning as much or enjoying it as much. Last year for my homeschooling I used aBecka textbooks and other books without a specific curriculum. My kids hated it. They didn’t like school. This year, with Sonlight my kids have learned so much and look forward to do school each day.

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