Is your homeschool cut and dried?

What in the world does that mean?!? The phrase “cut and dried” probably refers to having your firewood already cut, stacked, dried and ready for use before cold weather begins. In order to burn well, firewood needs time to dry out and lose the internal moisture that makes it produce excessive smoke and difficult to burn when first cut and still “green”. So if something is “cut and dried” it means that it’s already complete- ready to use- finished before we even begin.

I recently wrote an article about planning your school year. For many homeschoolers they have everything pretty well “cut and dried” by this time each year. They know exactly what they’re going to be doing each month of the year. This is particularly true if they’ve chosen a “canned curriculum” which relies on textbooks, DVD’s or internet-based distance learning. The entire year’s “mental firewood” was long ago “cut and dried” and is simply stacked up waiting for the student to burn through the predetermined lesson plans each week from now until June of 2010.

Efficient? Probably. Effective? Probably not. Education is a living, breathing entity. It changes with the seasons and the rhythms of life. What may have seemed like a great lesson plan when it was “cut and dried” last August to study Russia in geography next March may completely miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study Japan after a significant earthquake there suddenly thrusts Japan into world focus on March 4th. (Hypothetically of course!)

More importantly, having your school year “cut and dried” before Labor Day eliminates any possibility for the Holy Spirit to have regular input into the learning lives of your children. I earnestly believe that God is the vital third corner of this triangle we call homeschool education. You, your children and the God you serve are all in this together and He wants to have input into the journey that you’re all going on together.

If you’ve pre-planned your year so there’s no room for His input, or worse yet if you’ve simply purchased a pre-planned year from some textbook or distance-learning company that was all pre-planned for you years ago by a complete stranger- the Holy Spirit has zero chance to help shape your adventure.

Five in a Row was created with this triangular relationship clearly in mind. You’ll find a variety of roughly structured lesson activities for each book you’ll be enjoying. But the order in which you study the books is up to you based on what’s in the news, what’s going on in your lives and what catches your children’s attention that week. The specific lesson activities are wide open for you to choose as well. What might be a great activity for your sister’s son may not be the best for your daughter. It’s up to you and the Holy Spirit to choose which activities might capture your child’s interest today- in real time; nothing cut and dried there. And perhaps most importantly HOW you teach those lessons is entirely up to you as well. The learning style of each child is so different that no “distance-learning” expert can teach every child effectively. The Holy Spirit WANTS to be a part of your homeschool journey.

Talk with your children about this important truth: God Himself wants to be a part of your homeschooling journey. He is there with you each day, watching how you treat one another and enjoying watching you discover His creation as a family- His geography, His history, His science, His mathematical truths, His artistic world and so much more. Then ask the Lord this morning (and EVERY morning) to be present in your homeschool today. Purpose to give Him free rein in your classroom and thank Him for being a part of this amazing journey called homeschooling!

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    LisaM said,

    Thanks, Steve, for the reminder . . . I sometimes feel like I’m not planning the way I should because I don’t have the whole year planned out. But the reason I haven’t done that is because I wanted to be able to be flexible and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit as to the best way to teach my children. I’m continually asking the Lord to show me how to teach them in the way they learn best.

    Thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement!


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