Frequently I am messaged, e-mailed, or hailed over at some event and asked a question by moms who are considering homeschooling their kids, and it almost always goes something like this: "Where do you find your curriculum and which one do you use?" I usually name a few popular publishers, maybe send some links their way, give my typical try-it-and-see advice, and leave it at that. But here's what I really want to say.
My number one job as a mother, as a teacher, as a champion for my children's education, is just one thing: leave them with a love of learning.
If I manage to do nothing else but leave that natural curiosity, the joy of learning for the sake of finding out new and exciting things that all kids start out with, intact in my children, then I have succeeded. Everything else will fall into place. It's that simple.
We went to an ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders' Association) show a few weeks ago to show a rabbit and try out something new. I figured it would be at least a couple of hours of sitting around and needing to be fairly quiet and still, so I packed a bag of coloring books, paper, and crayons for the little guys, along with two large books for them to balance their papers on a stable surface in their laps. You know what all four kids wound up doing the majority of the show's downtime? Poring over the books, which were something like 100 Facts About the Human Body and Eyewitness Books: Weather. Because cramming facts and statistics and reading to pass tests doesn't occur in their lives, they didn't know they weren't supposed to sit there and enjoy reading and learning.
There are a million programs you can tie into, books you can buy, ideologies you can follow, and websites you can subscribe to as a homeschool family. Usually you begin your journey a deer in headlights, nervous and unsure and buying everything that feels like "real" school. Stop thinking about what you can purchase to duplicate the public school experience, and start exploring the options that will make education a real, meaningful, joyful, lasting impression on young minds. Find the things that connect you with your kids, and inspire them to explore on their own. Nothing is going to be a lasting success if you're not leaving their love of learning intact.