I’m looking forward to checking out soon and heading home to spend some time with the family this weekend—not gonna lie, I’ve been hitting the popsicle stash hard this week. I’ll probably have to go restock tonight.
But, before I shut things down for the day, I wanted to talk a little about some emails I’m getting and some comments and messages I’m seeing on our social media. It looks like a ton of people are going to be homeschooling this year. I read an article the other day that put the number of families considering homeschool at a whopping 82%! Crazy. And inspiring!
(Though when push comes to shove, I’m sure the number will be much, much lower. But still, the favorable attitude toward homeschooling has definitely surged.)
There seems to be a pretty wide range of what that’s going to look like—some people are doing their school’s virtual learning option, some are doing their own online programs, some are doing a hybrid charter/virtual model, and others are doing things independent of any formal program—but the one thing all parents seem to have in common is a desire to curate good and inexpensive content for their family to use.
I’m hearing from a lot of families who are overwhelmed. I get it. I totally remember being there. I guess this is an example of the market providing almost too well—parents have basically endless resources to choose from, and for those just starting out, it can be a totally overwhelming process. Add in the fact that they’re trying to choose curricula while learning about laws and restrictions/roadblocks that their state requires them to navigate, and everything can seem even harder.
If you’re looking for a non-denominational, creation-based curriculum, I recommend The Good and the Beautiful. Jenny Phillips, its creator, has done a great job putting together a really solid program. The best part is that she offers all of her Language Arts content (and some other stuff too) for free up to level 4. I think her system puts level four right around fifth or sixth grade, so that’s a ton of content that you can just download and print for free. We use a lot of her stuff for our kids, and although we supplement some of our own ideas when it comes to some of the political/historical lessons, overall it’s a solid program.
If you’re looking for something secular, you might consider the Ron Paul Curriculum. If you love the Tuttle Twins books, you’ll like a lot of what they have put together. It’s a little on the spendy side, but worth considering. Plus, it’s online and basically self-directed past about third grade.
A lot of veteran homeschool families have learned that even if a state has fairly strict requirements as to what homeschool is supposed to look like, or what parents are “allowed” or “required” to teach, there are virtually unlimited ways to work around and within “guidelines” and still craft the school experience that you think is ideal for your kids. I can’t stress enough the value of finding homeschool groups and co-ops within your own community (there are tons of Facebook groups facilitating this), and creating a support system through them. Homeschool vets are standing with open arms right now to welcome and assist new homeschoolers—regardless of how they’re choosing to homeschool.
With that said, there are always ways to create a curriculum for yourself without having to purchase one. It’s especially easy in states without a lot of government micromanaging, but even in tougher states, it can be done. I always like to remind new homeschoolers that Americans were doing pretty great before government-run education, and we’ll continue to do great now.
Our Free Market Rules economics curriculum is a one-stop-shop for teaching kids of all ages (and adults!) the principles of the free market. It costs only a few dollars a month, and one subscription covers the whole family—regardless of how many kids use it. You can check out samples of our content for kids, and our teen content, by clicking here. Another awesome thing about Free Market Rules is that it has information for parents included with each week’s content (and optional parent guides that go into lots of depth). We know that a lot of adults didn’t learn this stuff when they were growing up, so we’ve compiled resources for moms and dads to review so they feel better prepared to teach their kids.
One of the things we’ve always loved about homeschool is the ability for the whole family to sit down and learn together. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of compartmentalized education—it seems so weird to segregate kids by age group, and then separate life into “subjects” that we teach independent from each other and as if one has no bearing on the others. That’s a topic I discuss in my book Passion-Driven Education, helping parents figure out a more freeing and fulfilling way of approaching their children’s education.
We introduced our The Way the World Works podcast a few weeks ago, and it has been super well-received (thank you for that!). One of the questions I’ve seen a lot on social media when we talk about the podcast is, “What age is this for? Is it for adults or kids?” The answer is: All ages, and both! One of the most effective ways to teach kids complex ideas and principles is to sit down and talk with them. On the podcast, Brittany and I talk about all kinds of stuff, and when you and your kids listen together, you’ll be able to carry on some amazing conversations!
I hope that parents will realize that homeschool doesn’t have to be expensive, stressful, or even structured. It should look like what your family needs it to look like, and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else is doing. The pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” can be really strong—especially when we follow a bunch of seemingly perfect homeschool bloggers, or compare ourselves to people who have some superhuman knack for crafts and organization.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and nowhere is that more true than as a homeschool parent.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your hunt for the “perfect” curriculum, or if you know someone who is, just take a deep breath and narrow your focus to your own home, and your own kids. You know them better than anyone else, and you are perfectly qualified to teach them. When you brought them home from the hospital, you knew what to do, and you know what to do now. Don’t get so caught up in all the trappings of curriculum culture that you forget that all your kids really want is your time and attention.
The most meaningful learning takes place when we just sit down and talk with our kids about things that matter.