Let’s get one thing out in the open, right from the start:
Curriculum is there to work for you. You are NOT bound to work for it.
No, you do NOT have to follow it, verbatim, as-prescribed, day-by-day, task-by-task. No, you are not going to mess up your child’s entire education if you veer from it from time to time. No, you are not “ruining everything” if you ditch it after six weeks because it’s making you or your child miserable.
Here’s a fun metaphor: educating your child is a journey. The curriculum is a road map. If you’re on a fantastic, inspired, life-changing, Kerouac-esque road trip across the continent, are you going to bury your face in a paper map the entire journey, plugging diligently forward in a straight line in precise, eight-hour stretches the whole time? Good grief, I hope not. That map is not the point of the trip, right? It’s just a tool to help you, eventually, get where you are going.
If this road trip is a good one, you’re going to get off the road once in awhile. You’re going to see things that grab your attention and you’re going to pull off and investigate. You’re going to park and wander through a small town now and then, poking into art galleries and eating in strange places. You’re going to get tired of sitting still and decide to hike a desert canyon, maybe for a week or more, and you’re going to fall asleep under the stars listening to frogs in some little red-rock pool singing away. You’re going to meet people with amazing stories, who have lived through crazy events, and maybe you’re more inclined to stay and listen longer instead of getting back on that road at 1:00pm because “it’s time.”
You’re going to wander. You’re going to wonder. And when you’re ready, you’ll unfold that map and you’ll ramble on. Would you take on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip and follow the map (and only the map) every single mile? Of course not.
The map is not the point.
The map is not the reason.
The map is not in charge.
The map is simply there to pick you up and guide you when you need it to, that is all.
The same is true of curriculum. The curriculum is not the point. It is not the reason. And it is not in charge. It is there to serve you when you need it. But it is not the journey.
Your child’s education is a journey unique from every other child’s education. It is theirs, and theirs alone. Your role as educator in that journey is going to shift along the way. You start out at the wheel, eventually moving to shotgun, and someday–yes–you are waving at that car as it continues along without you. That map, that curriculum, it never does the driving. It’s there to pick you up and move you forward when you need it to. So, dear homeschooling mama that worries about how much of that curriculum you didn’t finish this week, stop committing to the map.
Commit to the journey.
That wild country stretching out before you and your child right now? It has so many secret treasures tucked into it that don’t even show up on that map.
That little passenger beside you, the one who’s going to take the wheel someday? They have their own excursions buried in their hearts, their own scenic routes calling their name.
Don’t deny yourself, or your child, the inherent beauty and adventure, the mystery and discovery, and the truth of this once-in-a-lifetime journey together because of a map. Use it when you need it, put it away when you don’t.
Stop letting the map get in the way of the voyage. You didn’t leave port because a piece of paper was calling your name. You left because you believed in the value of your child. When they look back on their education, they aren’t going to remember passing mile-markers at precise intervals. Yes, that map will have carried them from point A to point B. Yes, it will have helped them to get there. But that won’t be what they remember, and it won’t be what really matters. Chances are, those random pit-stops and indulgent side-trips are going to be what leaves the lasting imprint. Don’t skip them. Don’t feel guilty about them. Those things, they are the journey. And that map will still be there, folded up and waiting, when you get back in the car.
Get Your FREE Trial Issue of Book Seeds By Blossom & Root!
This FREE issue, inspired by the book The Three Sunflowers by Janet Lucy, includes two weeks of activities including nature study, STEAM, art project, recipe, and exploring language and poetry. Suitable for ages 3 - 8. Grab yours today!