This time of year marks a new season of curriculum “shopping” among homeschoolers. For me personally, I start shopping in the spring because we get our tax refund soon, so I want to know how much money I should set aside for the coming school year.
I also start shopping now because the gloomy days of winter sometimes make me second guess everything I’m doing.
So I thought I would share a “shopping list” of curriculum must-haves, in case you’re making out your list for next year.
Obedience to God is first.
If my children won’t listen, then how can I teach them? Sorry, I don’t subscribe to the view that all children are born with a desire to learn, or at least I don’t believe they have any desire to learn about God. Since this is the primary reason that our family homeschools, then my primary goal is to teach my children to listen to and obey God.
- For my younger children, I look for curriculum that teach attention skills, order in the home, and respect for parents, siblings, and others.
- For my older children, I look for curriculum that teaches them how to read so that they can read and study the Bible for themselves. I also assign the Bible itself as their main “textbook” for their other subjects.
- For myself, I look for books that help me develop my own obedience to God. Of course, all other books should take a back seat to daily time reading and studying the Bible itself.
Study together is important.
During some seasons of life, independent study is important and practical. In fact, teaching my older children to research and study on their own is very important, just as the Bereans took everything they learned from Paul and searched it out on their own (Acts 17:11).
However, the book of Deuteronomy encourages fathers and mothers to discuss things with their children all day long. As much as possible, we study together as a family, so that we can share core values and discuss God’s Word together. Studying together also keeps Mom from getting exhausted. When we’re doing “independent study,” we try to at least sit together around the table, so we can discuss things (and I can correct any wrong behaviors quickly).
- For the entire family, we look for curriculum that encourages time to discuss things together, all day long. (As a wife, I also try to ask my husband any questions I have as I am personally learning.)
The Bible needs to be the foundation of all other subjects.
This is especially true for history and science. We want to continually emphasize to our children that the righteous always go to God first for wisdom, then they evaluate everything else they hear in the light of the Word of God.
- We look for curriculum that uses the Bible to study the history of the world, from creation until the present day, emphasizing those parts of history that God emphasizes.
- We look for curriculum that uses a 7-day, literal creation as the basis for the study of science and math.
- We look for curriculum that views the creation around us as a world of which we are stewards.
The Bible is why we are studying in the first place.
My children like to ask me why we have to do our school work. Is it because the government told us we have to? Nope! Sorry, kids. God told us to!
We study reading, grammar, and languages so that we can read the Bible with understanding. We have school each day because we honor the Word of God. If we can’t read, we won’t be able to read our Bibles. What a precious gift literacy is!
We study writing and logic so that we can communicate the Bible to others effectively. We have school each day because others haven’t heard the good news. If we can’t communicate well, we won’t be able to preach to others (Romans 10:14-15).
- We look for curriculum that emphasizes strong skills in phonics and reading.
- We look for curriculum that teaches fundamental skills in grammar and logic.
- We look for curriculum that teaches skills that can be used to learn other languages (such as languages that could be used in Bible reading and translations – Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and modern-day languages that God lays on our hearts).
- We look for curriculum that helps us write and speak clearly, concisely, and compassionately.
Curriculum Prayer Requests
Wow, these are tall orders for curriculum! Have we found the perfect ones yet? Nope!
We have the perfect “textbook,” the Bible — but the “lesson planning” needed to discover everything it says, apply it to our own lives, then teach it to our children is a BIG JOB!
- God knows exactly what “curriculum” your family needs, at this time. He knows where it is, and He knows how to provide the money you’ll need to pay for it. So bathe the whole process in prayer, and ask Him to reveal His wisdom to you.
- While you’re shopping this year, pray for the many writers and curriculum developers who are working hard to bring the Bible to you and your children. They need it!
- Will you pray for me, too? I’m working hard to deliver this kind of curriculum to you, but it’s hard to do and still keep my own priorities as a wife and mom in order, as well as be a blessing to all around me. Yet I know families like yours are waiting! Please pray.
What other things do you look for as you shop for curriculum? Practical things? I’d love to hear!
Anne, i love this shopping list, I would add that as my children get older (12 and beyond) I start asking them questions to see where they think God is taking them personally in life. My husband and I also watch their spiritual growth and as they come to Christ as their personal savior, we watch how the Holy Sprit works in them. What are their spritual gifts, what talents has God given them. As they get older we hope to find curriculm that encourages them to use their gifts and talents for the Lord, curriculm that helps prepare them for minsitry, and curriculm that builds character for the end days.
Oh, so true, Katie! Thank you for this reminder…
I’m always looking for “integrated” curriculum, or curriculum that has the Bible in & through it, so that even when our Bible study for the day is done (the main “meal”), we still get “snacks” of the Word throughout the rest of schoolwork – even math! There are lots of other requirements (learning/processing styles, required prep time on my part, price, etc.), but they tend to be secondary to the Biblical foundation.
Especially this year, I’m feeling the Lord tugging at me to get away from “traditional” educational methods and do more efficient, integrated, unit-study style schoolwork. That’s a HUGE leap of faith for me because it’s not “checklist-check off, nice, neat, & orderly” like traditional schoolwork is. All this as my oldest is going into middle school years & tougher, more rigorous material. Yippee.