“Trust the process,” that was John Holt’s motto. John Holt was the father of the modern homeschool movement. He strongly believed that children could learn and thrive, without school. This belief, that parents didn’t need “experts” to teach their children, fueled the homeschool movement throughout the 80s and 90s. Children were learning and growing and becoming successful adults without classrooms and without textbooks. The growth of homeschooling in recent years has been exciting, but it has also attracted the attention of textbook companies who all want a piece of the “homeschool pie”. In order to convince parents that they need to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks and curriculum, textbook companies have told homeschoolers that they need “expert” help. They have preyed on the fears of every homeschool parent, the fear that maybe they don’t know what they’re doing or that they will miss something fundamental or important in their child’s education.
The truth of the matter is, homeschoolers may not be “experts” in every subject they teach, but they are experts on their child, and understanding a child’s heart will take his education much further than any curriculum. And yes, there will be holes, because whether a child goes to public school, private school or homeschool, the world is a mighty big place and no one can teach them everything. What can be taught is a love of learning, and that isn’t found in any curriculum. Life-long learners are nurtured, developed and supported. They have the space, the time, and the freedom to become who they are meant to be. It is amazing what children will do and learn when they are given the freedom to make choices.
We homeschool without a lot of structure during the school year, but during the summer we become full-fledged unschoolers and it’s an awesome way to live! This morning I walked around my house and took pictures of some of the things my children were up to. My youngest children, ages 11 and 9, were sorting pennies by year and had created a bar graph on the floor with the different piles.
My 13 year old son was busy doing algebra; he set a goal for himself to complete algebra 1 by the end of the summer. My 16 year old son was on the computer teaching himself a new song on the ukulele. He has taught himself to play, and is learning a good deal of music theory along the way. Signs of other projects in progress are all over the house; puzzles, books, homemade pipe chimes, blocks, and art supplies.
When I tell people about all the projects my children are doing, they often brush it aside, wondering if they’re learning “the important things”. The answer is yes. They are well-read, articulate and incredibly knowledgeable about a vast array of subjects including computer programming, history, and science. I do use some curriculum for math and phonics, but I try to use life experiences, living books and other materials as much as possible. We don’t have grammar worksheets or vocabulary exercises in our house, but we do have a lot of books, discussions, field trips, games, documentaries, service projects and personal goals. There is nothing extraordinary about my children, but extraordinary things have happened in our lives as we have learned to trust the process.
It has been so tempting over the years to trust “the experts”. There are many days that I wish I could rely on a curriculum to tell me what to do, but I have learned that when I trust my children and even more importantly, the Lord, miracles happen in our homeschool lives.