What curriculum? Do you have any coins around the house? How about a tape measure? Raisins and M&M’s are handy little math tools. Now you are set for Math Class for the next three or four years. I’m not being funny. So many parents spend money on expensive curriculum and forget that the reason we teach math is so little Sara will know how to make change, sew a dress, and total up her catalog order. Your question reveals that you have accepted some erroneous presuppositions.
You have been schooling your children since they were born. While shopping, driving down the road, or piddling in the house, have you taught them to recognize colors, shapes, numbers? Through looking at books with you, can they distinguish one animal from another? Do they know how many fingers they have on one hand, the total on both hands? Have they watched you cut up a chicken and discussed the body structure? Have you sat with them in the yard and examined bugs and worms? Have you looked at a globe to see how the world is arranged? Have they stacked blocks and balanced their weight on a seesaw? Have you corrected their grammar and taught them to write their names? Have you provided colors and paper for them to doodle? Well, they have already had biology 101, natural physics, general math, world geography, English grammar, art appreciation, and home economics.
But you feel a compulsion to do something that looks more like the school everyone is familiar with. You have accepted the pressure placed on you from the state and from friends and relatives. You are ready to stop being a parent and to become a teacher. The children are now going to suddenly become students. You feel you need something to validate your decision to homeschool, something tangible.
Remember, God did not make classroom education. It is the invention of humanists seeking to usurp parental authority. Why recapture your rights and duty only to adopt their methods of teaching? Would you become the initiator of methods you have rejected?
Classrooms are as unnatural as welding schools or boot camps. If an adult desires to enter into an occupational specialty, the classroom may be a pain that must be endured, but God save our children from the accountability and demands of professional students.
God has clearly defined the manner in which parents should teach: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).”
Maybe you could follow this rule: If a child enjoys doing a workbook, just for fun, then it cannot be harmful, unless the child becomes so absorbed in books as to neglect the important social and work aspects of family. Except on rare occasions, book studies should never consume a large part of the day. Children should be engaged in work and play with their families. A young daughter needs to begin early learning and practicing to be a wife, mother, and home-keeper. A boy should begin early, two-years-old, practicing to be the man of the house and the President of the United States. He should be given responsibility and an important role in sustaining the family. Our first concern should be the development of character, work ethic, and personal confidence.
So many of you are needlessly worried about your ability to teach. In a society full of books, one can hardly keep a child from learning to read. There is no reading mother so ignorant that she will prevent her child from reading if she only encourages him. But I have seen well educated, demanding mothers and professional teachers cause children to be so crushed in confidence or so bored to tears that they feared schooling of any kind. Forget the early achiever show-business. Too many parents drive their children for their own satisfaction.
Primitive tribesmen can be taught to read in one year. A ten-or twelve-year-old American who has been exposed to books and possibly some phonics can learn to read in three months. A child who fears failure will fail to try, whereas one who wants to read will do so regardless.
Relax, and then relax some more. Finally, relax with your children. Talk with them. Answer their questions about the why and how of everything. Have a good time discovering things together. Don’t give them tests and scores. How would you like to have your teaching rated? Would you be encouraged in your endeavors or would you feel like hiding for fear of failure? You might do some panic studying, but you would hate it. You don’t want that for your children. Take the pressure off, let them be two to four years behind the traditional age level, and they will be far ahead by the time they are eighteen.
Some of you are so brainwashed and fearful that you don’t believe this. I assure you, we taught all five of our children in just this manner. When our oldest went off to college, she earned a four-point average the first year. Most of our children did not learn to read until they were ten years old, but they all enjoy reading and are exceptionally good readers—and with good comprehension.
Understanding the principle of teaching “while walking in the way (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)” does not mean that you ignore teaching, but that you do it as a natural course of daily life. The children will not know they are in school; they will think you are just taking more interest in them, or that you have decided to have some fun with them rather than knock around like a frustrated commander fearing mutiny.
Everyday life is your curriculum. It will be the place where your children will face their ultimate tests. It will be the ground on which they must apply what they have learned. Everyday life is the best classroom, and with a little guidance, the best teacher.