It would be all sorts of wrong for me to tell you that the sea of homeschool information is overwhelming and then fail to offer you a life raft to navigate the waters. Today’s post is that life raft.
Wading through all the homeschooling information out there is a little bit like losing weight. You know you have to eat food in order to survive. In order to lose weight (and keep it off), you have to eat less food and learn to make good choices from here on out. You also know that in order to homeschool, you have to have some sort of resources and direction. In order to homeschool without becoming overwhelmed by it all, you have to focus, simplify, and learn to make good choices. Food becomes a monster if you try to eat it all. Homeschool information becomes a monster if you try to do it all.
Here are just a few of the “monsters” you may encounter:
The Homeschool Convention Monster
(affiliate links included)
I will be the first person to tell you I am a homeschool convention junkie. I LOVE homeschool conventions. They are so much fun! I would be sad if I couldn’t go to at least one homeschool convention a year. But, I will also be the first person to tell you that homeschool conventions can feel a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Information overload for sure. It is imperative you go PREPARED. That is exactly why I wrote this FREE ebook:
Download your copy HERE
NOTE: Because of personal and family circumstances, I will not be attending Teach Them Diligently this year; however, I highly recommend you go to one of these conventions if you are able. The focus of these conventions is less on curriculum and more on family discipleship. Find out more here:
The Homeschool Catalog Monster
I have a love/hate relationship with homeschool curriculum catalogs. They are fascinating and frightening all at the same time. I love the ones with articles. The ones with reviews are super helpful. And if the cover shows a serene homeschooling scene on it, it gets bonus points! If I had a coffee table, homeschool catalogs would be my coffee table books. But, let me tell you, it doesn’t take much for these lovely stacks of paper to become monsters.
I’m a blogger. I get how marketing works. Companies want you to buy their product. They want to make their product look good. You are not going to read negative reviews in their catalog. Despite all of this, they can be very helpful for learning more about each product. What you have to do is learn to control the catalog and not let the catalog control you.
When you get a catalog, thumb through it keeping in mind your family’s homeschooling vision (remember, we talked about this HERE). If something in the catalog piques your interest, explore the reason why. Is it all the living books? Is it a super hands-on science curriculum? Is it a curriculum that integrates all the subjects? Understanding the things that interest you will help you to put together a homeschooling experience that is perfect for your family.
You want to use the catalogs as a springboard. Just because you like the looks of a curriculum, does not mean you have to buy THAT curriculum. Once you know WHY you like certain aspects of each curricula you research, you can gain a sense of direction.
Example: You receive a catalog that shows lots of photos of moms reading aloud to their children. The catalog is full of great read aloud titles. When you analyze why you like this catalog, you realize you wish you were incorporating more read alouds into your homeschool day. While you could buy this curriculum, you could also simply choose to add more read alouds to your current homeschool curriculum. Both of these answers could be the right fit for your family, but choosing to control the catalog, rather than letting it control you, keeps YOU in charge.
The Homeschool Blog Monster
While I may share with you what curriculum we are using, and I may share with you what curriculum is working right now, it might not be what we use next year and it might not be what works tomorrow. However, you read it here, and you are pretty sure I know what I’m talking about. After all, I have a blog!
Problem is…I’m human and our homeschool isn’t perfect and I do change my mind!
Another thing you have to watch out for are biased reviews. While most homeschool bloggers I know would never dream of falsely representing a product to their audience, you will find that reviews on homeschool blogs are diplomatic. Like the curriculum catalogs, bloggers want to make a product they are working for look good. They want to offer a fair and honest assessment, but they do not want to commit libel.
So, how do you handle this sort of homeschool information overload? You look to bloggers you trust. Don’t run all over blogland trying to find answers. If you follow a certain blogger for a while, you will find out what products they are faithfully using. They will mention them more than once. They will list them in a curriculum line up. They will be more than happy to discuss them with you. Feel free to contact bloggers and ask if they are still using a product and any negative thoughts about the product they’d be willing to share privately.
Also, recognize that bloggers are homeschool moms just like you. They don’t always get it right. They do change curriculum and methodology. They are looking for answers just like you are. Have mercy.
The Homeschool Group Monster
Get a bunch of homeschool moms together in a room and you are sure to find the conversation turning to curriculum and methods. If you aren’t sure of yourself as a homeschool mom, these groups can be disastrous. You can walk away from them feeling like a confused failure.
Again, you have to remember that what you see at homeschool group is not indicative of how each mother’s homeschool is running. Other homeschool moms are struggling too.
Now, you could just walk away from homeschool groups altogether (this is one way to build some “white space” into your day), but if you have your heart set on joining a homeschool group, or you find that most of the time the homeschool group you are a part of is very encouraging and helpful, then it is imperative you learn to shut out all the extra voices.
And this is where the real issue reveals itself…
The Homeschool Mom Monster
We are our own worst enemy. The fear and self-doubt, the focus away from what really matters, the extras that bog us down all serve to paralyze and overload us. As I mentioned in the first post of this series…we lose ourselves. When we lose sight of WHY we homeschool and WHO we are doing this for, we fall flat on our faces.
And that, my friends, is precisely WHERE we need to be.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ~Abraham Lincoln
As a homeschool mom, there really is no other place we can go, but to our knees. We are broken. We are failures. We are not enough on our own. But there is One who IS enough. Everything we are starts there. Our homeschool choices must start there. Our methodology, our schedules, our vision, all must start there.
You tame this homeschool information monster by keeping your focus on Jesus. And when you falter (because you will), don’t go chasing after other things to get you back on track. Get back to Jesus.
From there, you CAN research and listen to others and try new things because you have your firm Foundation in place.
To read the entire series, START HERE.