I laughed when I first read this question. When I first decided I wanted to homeschool I had no clue what or how much subject material I should cover each year. I thought I’d have to choose between Abeka, BJU, and ACE – the only programs for homeschoolers I had ever heard of. One day at the library I happened to do a search for homeschooling books and found a copy of The Well-Trained Mind. I checked it out, took it home, and things have never been the same since.
The Well-Trained Mind showed me that I didn’t have to settle for a boxed curriculum (I’m not knocking boxed curriculum, I just wasn’t aware that there was anything else out there) but could use different products for each subject. It also introduced me to the idea of using real books for history and science in lieu of textbooks – something I had never heard of but was so excited to try (since I hated my own social studies/history classes because of the boring textbooks). This led me to a few internet searches where I discovered a plethora of resources for homeschooling and I finally realized that, “hey, I think I could actually do this!”
I started ordering homeschooling catalogs and looking at all the programs that were available. I researched and read and asked questions on homeschooling message boards. I looked at many scope and sequence lists and finally sat down and wrote down my own goals for my daughter. I looked for programs that would help me meet those goals. I read more homeschooling books that helped me to refine my goals even more. Even with all that I know that I’ll probably forget to teach something but I’ve come to realize that isn’t the end of the world.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that it’s more important to help your child develop a love of learning and to give them the tools to discover things for themselves. When that happens you’ve created a life-long learner and it won’t matter what you forgot to teach them because they will know how to discover the answer for themselves. Education is a life-long journey, not something that ends with a high school or college diploma, so it’s important to equip our children for the trip. The Well-Trained Mind gave me the courage I needed to strike out on this homeschooling journey (along with lots of prayer).
Each family’s homeschooling journey will look completely different. So if you want to read about their adventures take a few minutes to head on over to the Homeschool Crew blog to read how everyone else responds to the “how do you know what to teach?” question.