Being a new homeschooling mom, I had no idea how easy it was to get lost amidst all of the curriculum choices and start to lose sight of why I wanted to homeschool in the first place.
If anyone had asked me in the last couple of years why I wanted to homeschool my son, my answer would usually be a polite way of saying that I wanted to protect my son from worldly, liberal values. (Especially when we lived in California…Thank you God for bringing us to Northwest Arkansas!).
Academics or his future career was actually a small factor for me. I simply wanted his soul to be properly watered and immersed in the Orthodox Christian lifestyle. And I still do…but then you take a mom, who hasn’t had a job for almost 5 years and give her a focus other than her son (even if it has to do with her son) then you’ve got a mom who has started to lose focus and is spending way too much time researching and debating between curriculum! And for no reason really. My son is completely on track…I almost forget my son is technically in his “Pre-K” year, but we are doing work for K/1st grade. And besides, what I think might be right for him in six months, will probably change by the time we get there.
I’m not sure what it is for other homeschool moms, but looking at homeschool curriculum is a lot of fun for me! There is so much to read and learn about…different approaches, different options. Even thinking about working in education someday when my son no longer has need of me for his teacher! Even so…I could probably not look at curriculum again until May and be just fine. Additionally, reading other homeschooling blogs and such is the nearly the closest thing I have to community. There are no other homeschooling moms at my church and my Classical Conversations group does not talk curriculum very much. (Or at least not with me since my son is only 4.5 and looks 3…and I always get told “at that age…you don’t really have to do much.” It is unusual to be homeschooling an only child, most of the children my son’s age are the youngest in a larger family and haven’t started academic work too much yet.)
I felt that we “needed” to start formal homeschooling early, kind of like when we “needed” to start potty training when my son was almost exactly two and started routinely taking his diapers off in his crib. My son is strong-willed and intense, and has two parents that have been dedicated to him since birth. As an only child, this means no other siblings to share with, to fight over activities with, to have to go along with another activity for, etc. Try as we might, we cannot replace the tension caused by a sibling competing for parental attention. (Due my son’s unique personality, it might be better this way and how God intended it…seeing as how he is still an only child…but it can be tough! If you would like to read about my journey with secondary infertility, it can be found on my other blog.) It just started to seem that allowing him to do nothing but mainly play for his 14 waking hours a day was not good for his soul anymore is his particular situation. Our formal homeschooling time is basically a time where he gets focused time to learn he is not in charge! I told a friend the other day that homeschooling him in this way was our antidote to spoiling. An exclusively Charlotte Mason/un-school approach for younger children sounds great for a larger family, but not for our intense, strong-willed only child who would only love to call the shots all day!
Then there is the practical side of it. As mentioned, I have an amazing and kind, yet somewhat challenging and draining only child. I have been doing some reading on the overexcitabilities of giftedness. There is one type called psychomotor overexcitability that often gets confused with ADHD. Seeing that ADHD runs in my family, my son could have both! Maybe I think if I just find the right balance of curriculum that moves at just the right pace, everything will calm down a notch…but I need to remember that it won’t. Its just how it is! Sometimes I can see that it would be great to just put him in front of a math computer game and let him run with it…but we are pretty committed to low-tech in our house, until he is 7 or so.
But I digress…see how easily it happens!
I am blessed and grateful that God has allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom.
I am blessed and grateful that I live in a country that allows me to homeschool.
I am blessed and grateful that my son’s world is small for the time being and his values and the natural order of God’s creation are being firmly imprinted in his soul in his most formative years.
I am blessed and grateful that I can spend breakfast time with him…and lunch time…and snack time.
Does it really matter if I have the perfect phonics book? Does it really matter if he learns to read words with the “nk” ending in January or in March or even May?
Does it really matter if my math course is incomplete and I have to remediate a couple of parts later on?
No, it does not.
What matters is that my son knows the Commandments and strives to follow them, that he learns that he honors God when he does his best work, that he learns to call upon Christ, the Theotokos and the Saints throughout his life, and many more.
This blog post is a reminder for myself.
I will still have curriculum reviews on this site because it is fun, but I needed to remind myself not to lose focus!