How to Pick the Right Curriculum

Before you get too excited, let me say that this article will not suggest any one curriculum, or devalue any other curriculum. There are far too many choices out there for me to offer much wisdom in that area. Indeed, homeschooling has come a long way from the few publishers that would actually sell to a homeschooling family; now homeschooling conventions look almost as polished and slick as those industry fairs where I once manned a corporate booth. That reality is one of the inspirations behind this article. It is about this time of
year when I “hear” new mothers all over the States write to say, “I’m a new homeschooler with a few questions…” How does this parent, with an overwhelming number of curriculum from which to choose, make a wise decision?  Read my thoughts on this dilemma in an article I penned for Heart of the Matter Online this month…


The World’s Standard is a Set-Up

Soon, I will write a post about our plans for next year’s school/ curriculum plans; it’s about that time, and for a variety of reasons, I’ve already had to think about what changes will occur in our school, and what will stay the same.   For now, however, I am simply enjoying our few remaining weeks, and surviving—not thriving—in the number of interruptions that continue to attempt to overtake our day.

One of my greatest joys right now is the time spent in the Word with our younger two.   I’ve been somewhere between curious and apprehensive about the book of Leviticus.

God is so faithful.  From the first chapter, I knew where we were going: God set a standard.   Before He gave the details on what to bring, how to bring it, etc., He simply states that He wants our best.  Verse 3 of Chapter 1 states,  ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.’   Reading this passage gave us an excellent opportunity to talk about how flawed our standards are in light of what He expects.

Often the children will gauge themselves according to how someone else is doing.   Their behavior is good relative to someone else’s actions.   Their performance was good because someone else did not do as well.   While the outside world helps us with an understanding of the norm, there are several problems with this type of comparison.

1) It sets us up for less than our best if the standard is lower.

2) We use external measures for correction rather than internal reflection; the latter often reveals uncomfortable truths that, if we surrender them to the Father, can accelerate our growth.

3) Being satisfied with earthly means and measures of success can often mean that we are out of sync with the will of God (1 Peter 2:9, John 15: 18-21)

As an adult, I find myself making similar comparisons.   And for all the same reasons, the world’s standard is a set-up.   The kids and I even talked about this from a corporate perspective.   I’ve shared in previous posts about some of the programs at our church, and many churches, who have become increasingly seeker-friendly (you can read more about the seeker-friendly church movement here or in tons of other places).    Though we still use common church vernacular (words like ‘sin,’ ‘repentance,’ ‘salvation,’ etc.), we still stand with many congregations that, in reaching out to the un-churched, are losing a generation of young adults and kids who are hungry for Truth.   In short, the world is increasingly loving the church, but is our behavior acceptable to the Lord?

So, as I ask the children when we read the Word together, what does the Lord want us to do?    Well, personally, I thought about an experience I had with the oldest and a substandard midterm.    We went 15 rounds about what I wanted but didn’t explicitly state, and how she performs for others versus her performance for me.   I see now where the Word in Leviticus 1 would have worked–if I’d worked it.   It’s really not about me; ultimately, it’s about remembering who you are and to whose standard you are subject (Colossians 3:23).    My standard should not be the standard for our school; all of our work should be our best, for this is acceptable to God.

How’s the rest of Leviticus going?    The youngest says, “All these  sacrifices sound alike.”    Our vegetarian son summarizes each chapter as “more Old Testament killing.”  This kid and his growing sensitivity to meat and meat products scares me.    I can’t even cook dinner without him saying, “Do you realize how many ______(name your land or sea creature) had to die for you to enjoy those?”   We may not get much more than a new level of expectation out of this one, but that will be enough.

The Race is NOT Given to the Swift…

After our three-day weekend, I sat down on Sunday night with our son’s school planner and a very simple plan: wake up early and get a full day’s school in before the older two leave for dance classes and I drive the youngest to her book club meeting at the library.   But I forgot some things.

I forgot that our license tag sticker on the car had expired as of yesterday, and if I did not get it renewed, the oldest and I would drive around on grace probably until Friday.

I forgot that the youngest had a pair of new glasses that failed to arrive before Easter, and so they would surely call this morning for her to be fitted, and of course, I could not wait until this evening because of the book club meeting.

So, after another night of broken rest, I got up at the last minute to drop the oldest off at college and then get the new sticker.   Our son’s job was to get breakfast (cereal) for himself and the youngest and get their school day started.    I LOVE that the kids are old enough now to delegate tasks.

On the way to college, the oldest and I talk about her gum infection, which has kept her from eating for almost a week and still is not completely healed.    We agree that I need to consult with the orthodontist about extending her prescription.

Sure enough, as I am driving to get the sticker, the eye doctor calls; I speak with him briefly, then call our son to tell him that plans have changed.   Tell the youngest to get dressed, and I will swing by the house to pick her up and get to the eye doctor.

As we leave the eye doctor, it hits me that I wanted to buy some roti to carry our son and I through the week with Dad away, but the vendor operates on a cash-only basis, so we have to trek by the bank, which brings me to the next thing I forgot: it is the first of the month.  Grrr…

I spend a minute (literally 45, to be exact) with the younger two at home before jumping in the car to get the oldest from college.   In route, I speak with the orthodontist, who adds a pharmacy trip to the day.   On the way home, cash in hand, the oldest and I get to the roti shop.    I also forgot how many people, including the local schools, take a vacation on the Monday after Easter.   No roti today.

By the time I get home, I am whipped, and it is barely noon.

This glimpse into the morning’s first few hours is a small microcosm of what has been happening in my life for the past few days and weeks.   There is enough going on for me to become quite frustrated.  Yet the Lord continues to show His grace and mercy, and a number of calming thoughts have come in waves to give me peace that passes human understanding.  I don’t always understand why I don’t have even more worries!

A constant theme in my life, and consequently on my blog, is the whole concept of being productive/ planning/ redeeming the time.   It occurs to me as I often ponder how I got here that when you are an educated woman with abilities to do a number of things and do them well, you get pulled in a number of areas.   And on one hand, there is nothing wrong with that–as long as you know when to say “when.”   Here are some other thoughts I have had about my time while on this earth:

Stay focused on purpose.   As Rick Warren states so much more eloquently, just because you can do something does not mean you should.   There are a number of items that compete for my attention.  Some are projects that I genuinely need to make time for, like home maintenance and improvement projects (I dare not list them out).  Some are projects that I enjoy, but just do not have time for right now, like sewing or scrapbooking.   Some items are just fun, like “visiting” around on Facebook–but do I really have the time?   And is this activity furthering my progress or fulfilling my purpose?    Well, yes and no…

Keep the main thing, well, the main thing.   I have overall prorities; I grow increasingly clear on my purpose.   Yet, I also have to submit my schedule to the Lord each day, allowing His wisdom to guide me in what needs to be accomplished on that day.  And though I know some will disagree, it is not always as simple as husband second, children third, etc.  If I went about every day in that order, I would never do anything else, as family is a non-stop ministry.  Plus, it would not allow the children to grow into the necessary self-sufficiency for them to function as young adults.   Some days, laundry is the main thing.  Other days, grades or a writing deadline might be the main thing.  And yes, many days, family is the main thing.

A list is your friend.   When I worked outside of my home, planning the day, complete with A, B, and C priorities,  was a part of my morning, over-coffee routine.  At home, however, I might heat my tea three times before I actually make a list, and then I write items that I have completed and check them off just to give myself a feeling of accomplishment.   Getting up before the kids would be of immense help here, but let’s face it: I have not sprung forward well.  Yet, I have been using my phone for more of its total functionality as a tool, not just a toy. My calendar has each week’s activities loaded, and I am using my “memo” app to keep track of my notes, and–check me out– I even wrote the lion’s share of this blog post with it!!  Yay me!!!

The Scriptures say that the race is not given to the swift nor to the strong, but to the one who endures until the end.   May our wonderful Counselor guide us each day in how to run our races such that others might see us and glorify Him who is in Heaven.