Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Secular Thursday

This is my first Secular Thursday blog. What is Secular Thursday, you might ask? Well, here’s an explaination by Smrt Mama of Smrt Lernins fame.

with a shiny new banner that I hope she doesn’t mind that I made…

Today, I thought I’d post some musings about homeschooling secularly in a religiously dominant area. The reasons why people choose to homeschool are myriad. While it might be stereotypical to say that ‘most homeschoolers do so for religious reasons’, it seems that a great many of them do in fact have some sort of religious stake in amongst their qualifiers, especially here in the South. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but when you’re not homeschooling with a religious overtone the predominance of religiously based materials can make it quite difficult to find homeschooling resources that fits your needs, especially when you’re specifically looking for curriculum without a religious foundation. The majority of the big name curriculum packages are religiously based and even some of the more popular homeschooling methods feature a religious foundation that figures prominently in the workings of that method. There’s nothing wrong with that, even – unless you’re a purely secular homeschooler.

I wonder sometimes if that’s how styles like ‘eclectic’ and ‘unschooling’ got started – parents who were trying to find resources that weren’t religiously based and coming up short-handed just eventually said nevermind and started picking what was available apart and mixing and matching what they could to come up with a comprehensive curriculum. I certainly know more than a coupe who do exactly that – secularizing Charlotte Mason or SonLight to fit their needs.

I do have to wonder though if by doing that, we’re taking out an important component of what makes that program ‘work’. I remember doing FiveInARow with my boys when they were little. I think those books have Bible Study in the regular books if I’m not mistaken – but the method was good and we ended up doing the lesson with another source of inspiration. We could have just skipped that part and gotten that ‘lesson’ in some other way outside of the FIAR lesson books, but it worked in that context and I wonder sometimes if by changing that lesson, we changed the outcome in some indefinable way. Maybe I’m picking it apart too much – I tend to do that, but I do think it’s curious that so many of us are drawn to curriculum or styles that have a religious foundation. Of course, it also could be that since religious organizations really have more of a foot in the door, so to speak, in the homeschooling lifestyle, they would have more out there in regard to resources. Just seeing how much homeschooling has changed since my brother and sister and I were homeschooled shows that we secular homeschoolers are well on their way towards making their own mark!

For me personally, I do style myself an eclectic homeschooler. We’re using a variety of materials – from text books, workbooks and worksheets to computer sites, programs and television, to the library and learning ‘at the knee’ from our elders and tradesmen. We’re exploring outside and appreciating the majesty of nature and the earth, taking in the miracles of technology and civilization and the power of the imagination. I do worry sometimes that I am scattered in too many directions, but I think I’m organized enough to pull it off. And I keep reminding myself that whatever I under-address in class today, we can always go back over later. Finding secular options hasn’t been that difficult because I am not looking for an ‘all in one’ deal. I actually prefer mixing and matching to come up with something that works for us, and the flexibility of being able to stop and do something else if something isn’t working for us. I would hate to purchase some big boxed set and quit after a handful of lessons because it’s not right for us. I’m extremely grateful to the list owners of sites that promote the secularization of religiously based materials. Seeing the adaptations and extensions of those methods and resources that the moms and dads have come up with is eye-opening and very inspiring.

In the interests of promoting secular homeschooling, I’m reposting Smrt Mama’s list of Secular Thursday bloggers. I think that support is such a key factor in mothering and being a homeschooling mom is no different. Having your choices validated plays a major role in your confidence level, and when you’re the one responsible for choosing, mapping out and executing your child’s entire educational foundation, confidence becomes a valuable commodity. So go read something, tell a mom she’s doing a fabulous job and boost some ego!

Warmly,

~h

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