on homeschool curriculum: commit to the journey, not the map
Brave Writer Lifestyle, Homeschool, Parenting

On Homeschool Curriculum: Commit to the Journey, Not the Map

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.

on homeschool curriculum: commit to the journey, not the map

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.”

on homeschool curriculum: commit to the journey, not the map

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.

on homeschool curriculum: commit to the journey not the map

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  • Reply Kristi September 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I needed to hear this so much today! We went on an awesome field trip today and learned so many new things. We learned about three animals native to Texas and my son got to even touch a few of them. But as I listened to other kids answering the presenter’s questions, I got caught in the comparison trap, nearly panicking about the facts and things that I haven’t formally taught him. And then making mental checklists to start teaching those things ASAP. But your lovely post has brought me back to my homeschooling goals. It reminded me that it’s not all about those random facts and following a curriculum. It’s about guiding him along the learning journey. He will (if he doesn’t already) know those things, and so much more. His education is about more than a checklist of topics. Thank you for sharing this!!!!

    • Reply Kristina Garner September 28, 2017 at 11:55 pm

      <3 You're welcome. I think we all definitely have those moments when we feel that way.

  • Reply Megan Lowry September 30, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I’m so excited to have found your blog! I think we have a lot in common…yay!

    • Reply Kristina Garner September 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      I’m excited you did too! 🙂

  • Reply To the Mama Asking About Preschool Curriculum in the Facebook Group – Blossom & Root March 1, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    […] curriculum is there to assist you when you need it to. It works for you. You do not work for it. (Click here to read “On Homeschool Curriculum: Commit to the Journey, Not the Map.”) Never forget that, state requirements withstanding, you are in charge of what goes on in your […]

  • Reply 5 Tips for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum When Money is Tight – Blossom & Root April 2, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    […] I firmly believe that curriculum is a resource for the parent educator, and nothing more. Some parents want or need a resource, some parents do not. If you’re in the camp that is confident that you can teach your child math and reading through a handful of manipulatives and early readers, go for it! If you want to teach history by watching documentaries and checking out books from the library, you absolutely should. If your idea of a great year of science involves Pinterest, passes to the local museum, and raising chickens, do it! Not every family needs a curriculum. It all depends on the style of homeschooling that works for you and your confidence when it comes to teaching certain subjects. Don’t feel pressured to purchase a curriculum if that doesn’t fit your vision, your needs, or your child’s learning style. Homeschooling is a uniquely individual endeavor. And even if you do decide to buy a curriculum, don’t feel like you’re a slave to it. Curriculum works for you, you do not work for it. (Click here to read more on keeping curriculum in check.) […]

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