After 18 years, it has finally occurred to me that what we have been doing all along was "Radical Christian Unschooling".
Yes, we did use some curriculum over the years. Sort of. We did Switched On Schoolhouse a couple of years. And The Weaver. And The Sycamore Tree. And Saxon Math. Those were the ones we actually used, and frankly they were all good in their different ways. They are all still around
Then there was the stuff we didn't ever use. In fact, sometimes I think our house is the Graveyard of Expensive Unused Homeschool Curriculum. (Well, not anymore - that is how I got into eBay selling!)
Yes, my son is enrolled in an online program. Um. Yeah.
As a matter of fact, all the angst, all the turmoil, all the drama associated with the time of year I always started cracking the whip and panicking about academics was when I started feeling like we HAD to finish all the work that was laid out in the books/CD/workbook/fill-in-your-own or I was not doing my job. This was mostly due to pressure from my husband, or pressure from other people, mostly my in-laws, who were not terribly supportive of our decision to homeschool.
But the real problem was that the constraints these methods forced on me didn't match what I really believed about school.
And today, I finally found the words that articulated that.
I'm not sure how I got around to visiting Christian Unschooling. I think I may have found it through reading various articles by our great group of Moms and women who contribute to Blissfully Domestic Magazine. But however I found it, at Christian Unschooling I found this definition of Radical Christian Unschooling that was posted by CrunchyChristianMom:
"Radical Christian Unschooling is the Trust that not only will a child seek out and learn what he needs to know when he needs to know it, without coercion, without school or school type methods, in the freedom and safety of his family, but that God will direct the child’s path Himself. Our role as parents is to act as guides and mentors in the learning process, and to disciple our children in our Faith through our daily example of walking out our faith before their eyes.”WOW. That's it.
Did we execute that vision perfectly. No. We are not the poster family for successful homeschooling.
But it may be that trying to squeeze myself - and my kids - into some kind of mold that was wrong for us contributed to my failure in certain areas. I allowed the homeschooling industry and the opinions of others to dictate what I believed I was supposed to be doing - and how, and when - instead of letting the Lord take me through His agenda for us, one step at a time.
But God is good, and it isn't too late for us, even now, to turn things around for my son here in the home stretch.
And it isn't too late for you.
If you are new to homeschooling, or particularly if you have been homeschooling for a while and feel like you are just not able to get with the program, maybe it is the program and not you that is the problem.
Visit Christian Unschooling and check out whether this educational philosophy might be the answer you were looking for.