Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Hello Rebecca,

I was wondering if you have your curriculum for the upcoming school year planned out? My hubby and I are VERY new to homeschooling and are always open to what other, like-minded, families are doing. Right now we only have 1 daughter of school age..she will be starting 1st grade - our other two are still little bity. We already feel a little bit overwhelmed about what to focus on and where to start. I did browse through your past curriculum posts - I was just wondering if you are still using much of the same stuff, or if you have changed things up a bit over the years?

Anyway. We hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and a fabulous SON-day! We look forward to hearing about your upcoming school year!

In His Name,
The Turner Family

Hello Turner Family,
I sure hear you. There are so many curriculum options; so many varying views on the hows and whys of education; our own backgrounds and of course the desire to best equip our children for an unknown future. As all of these considerations tug at our minds we can feel completely overwhelmed and lost. Choosing a curriculum involves so much more than just... choosing a curriculum, doesn't it?
Isn't it a comfort to know that God knows the future (Is. 46:10) and is a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1)?
I absolutely want to share some specifics regarding curriculum choices for first grade, but please join me in first considering a few overarching ideas that just may eliminate a lot of the choices out there.
Your most helpful tool in homeschooling is absolutely free- it is wisdom from God through prayer (James 1:5). As a husband and wife I would encourage you to pray together asking the Lord to give you wisdom to know where you should stand on the following issues and the boldness to carry these beliefs into your homeschool future.
1. WHO ARE YOU ARE EDUCATING FOR? I know it sounds like a "no-brainer" for a Christian to make their number one goal to educate their children for service to God, but as Robin Sampson shares in What Your Child Needs to Know When, the educational ideas we have grown up with really mirror those of the Ancient Greeks rather than the Ancient Hebrews. Your own background and the opinions of men may tempt you to question if your goals are too simplistic at times... too dated.
The goal of Ancient Greek Education (and in turn, the goal of the current public school system) is to prepare individuals to serve the state, while the goal of Ancient Hebrew Education was always to prepare individuals to serve God.

I would encourage you to determine your goals for education. If your goals are different than those in the public schools, don't be concerned if your curriculum looks different than theirs as well.
Nothing in education is neutral- that is a Greek idea.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after
the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
- Colossians 2:8
2. WILL YOU SHELTER FROM EVIL? You will also need to decide if you plan to shelter your children from evil. Your stand on this issue will impact everything from curriculum to reading choices, to movies, music and so on.
Tom Eldridge points out in Safely Home:
The first conflict in recorded history was a battle over education.
In other words, there has been a war over knowledge that dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden. You will remember that Adam and Eve had the choice to walk in the knowledge and obedience of God; gaining only the knowledge He deemed best OR to take a different route; eat the forbidden fruit and know everything good AND evil.

As we prepare our children for their future we need to decide if we want them to be exposed to good OR to good and evil. I do not mean that we should shelter them from any conflict-- certainly conflict and consequence are for our instruction in the Scripture and in other godly books. What I am speaking against is the argument that our children should be exposed to evil (witchcraft, swearing, immorality) so they can become so accustomed to evil that it will not bother them in the future.
Does Scripture teach that we should learn to tolerate evil or flee from it?
I would have you wise unto that
which is good,
and simple concerning evil.
- Romans 16:19
Abhor what which is evil;
cleave to that which is good.
- Romans 12:9
3. WHAT WILL BE ESTEEMED AS A LITERARY CLASSIC IN YOUR HOME? You will need to decide what your family views as "classic" literature within your home. Will you defer to Philippians 4:8 or will you trust what tradition and the state school system call classics?

There is a long tradition in this country of resistance
to the wisdom of the Greeks: Thomas Paine,
Benjamin Franklin, and Noah Webster all judged
the classics to be of scant use.
- Learning from the Greeks, Commentary Magazine,
Valiunas, 1998/ Robin Sampson What Your Child
Needs to Know When, p.62
Simply by deciding Who you are educating for; your view on sheltering from evil and whether or not you will embrace what the world calls a "classic" goes a long way in helping us to weed out what we don't want to cover, doesn't it?
What about what we would like to cover? If I were to start over with my first born in first grade I would likely choose the following:
1. My Father's World- Their created curriculum is sweet and Christ centered. We are loving their 1st grade reader Bible which is perfect for teaching little ones to have their own morning quiet time. They also sell resources created by other publishing companies. Those may need to be used with some care. One thing I like about My Father's World is that it is built to grow with the homeschooling family later combining lessons together with siblings. (BTW- half their profits go directly to Bible translation).
2. I would learn about the Charlotte Mason method and I would utilize websites like Ambleside which encourage Charlotte Mason methods including time outdoors, art, Bible and so on. I would skip the fairy tales and wait on the foreign language, but sweet picture books like James Harriott's Treasury for Children would be on my list of read alouds.
3. I would seek to develop a love for being read to and limit non-Christian videos. We love Cedermont Kids and Steve Green Hide Em In Your Heart.
4. I would also be sure they learned their Phonograms using flash cards (if you haven't had the opportunity to learn phonograms yet you may want to order the phonogram CD here) and teach them how to write just sitting side by side with a wipe off board. I would teach the formation of a letter a day.
5. And I would help them to learn simple math. We liked Rod and Staff for this age. I might even order a math CD (like this one) or play math games.
And I would just seek to enjoy them and teach them to enjoy being a part of our family. I hope you will relish these early years. It will go by so quickly...

Blessings friends,


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  1. Wow! How much she has grown! As you know, I don't home school, but what great advice for all of us! I was just so honored tonight by a friend who told me I was a friend who "grounded" her. I realized that you are a "friend" who grounds me. So important to have those influences in our lives! :). I would appreciate prayers as we await Hurricane Irene!
    Blessings to you and yours,

  2. Aww, poor Mr. Jackson (in the cartoon)..


  3. Thank you Gabi- what an honor. We are heading off to pray for you right now! Please keep us posted dear.

  4. Thank you! We are fine :). A few trees down, but we haven't lost power or anything!

  5. Hello Rebecca!!

    Thank you SO much for posting about this! I was deeply touched by your words and direction. You brought up so many good points throughout your post :0)

    You really helped me remember that our school day is more than just a *school day*, this is a way of life for our family and it certainly won't look typical from the outside looking in. It's easy to become overwhelmed with the curriculum choices available to us. However, when we are able to let go of the stress and anxiety and fully put our desire and focus on God, He steps in and directs us toward the coreect path!

    I loved the picture you posted at the end! Your girls are so beautiful (like their mommy)! What a great reminder to slow down and rejoice in the present time.

    Thank you again for answering my email - I was so delighted to read your response!!!!

    Many Blessings,

  6. I was hoping you would post about homeschooling soon! I find your posts so refreshing and encouraging! I emailed you in a panic before my oldest started kindergarten two years ago and now she is a big second grader! Thanks Rebecca, you bless :) In Christ, Andrea

  7. Jennifer- Ha! You made me laugh. Seems harsh, but sometimes I will be pre-reading book after book at the store or library and wondering who in the world made the call to send these ideas to print... maybe it would be nicer to save the trees and ink in some cases. ;)

    Gabi- We were so glad to read your e-mail on the way to church today! Thanking God for your safety!

    Kelly- You are so welcome! I really enjoy the chance to connect with sweet, like-minded families like yours. I am so glad that you were encouraged. Please keep in touch- I'd love to hear how things are going as school gets going for you. I know it can seem overwhelming- especially in the early years but it really gets good-- stick with it Sister!

    Thank you Andrea. What a blessing you are! I'd love if you would share what you felt best about last year/ what worked for you when you were teaching first grade. Did you have a favorite subject or family tradition?

  8. I'm sorry I don't have anything encouraging to share about our first grade year. I struggled after the birth of our fourth child and we moved several states away :) If I had the last two years (k-1) to do over I would have never researched online like I did. It started innocently enough for I had no idea how to do this homeschool thing. I happened on a *certain large homeschooling forum* and before I knew it I was in a tizzy before I even got started. I have recognized this in others since and it is such a shame! I always love your posts which bring me back to the Lord and the heart of our children. We are using Heart of Dakota this year for k and 2nd and it is perfect for our family. Kindergarten takes less than 45 minutes (including phonics and math) and includes devotions, Bible stories, Bible memory, Scripture songs, games...the plans are so easy for this busy mama and require no preparation. Their second grade program is even better :)My main focus is forming habits and getting God's Word in their little hearts. I see so many areas that I neglected and I can only pray for God's grace and the chance to try again. Is that more than you wanted to know? *smile* Andrea

  9. Andrea- You are the best. Not at ALL too much info. I really appreciate your honesty Sister and wish I could give you a big hug right now.

    The first years are the hardest in my opinion. So many things pull at us from all sides. Your words of wisdom may serve to help someone else who is tempted to "do it all" educationally and miss the chance to pour Scripture into the little hearts in front of them.

    Joel 2:25 says: "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten."

    While we cannot go back and redo many things we wish we could (speaking from experience) we can commit, with the Lord's help, to seek first His kingdom and righteousness TODAY-- and watch Him do what we cannot.

    Love and prayers!