A few weeks ago, a friend confided in me that she felt she had lost herself in all the homeschooling information out there, and that because of all that information, she was feeling nearly paralyzed, unable to make even the simplest of homeschooling decisions.
It was the first time I actually heard someone put words to a phenomenon I have been seeing, and often feeling myself, among homeschool moms.
Shortly after that conversation, I wrote my post on how blogging is changing, and one reader made the comment that all the information on the web was mentally constipating. She was absolutely right. We are living in the information age, but we are paralyzed by information overload.
I’ve told you before how when I started homeschooling 12 years ago, I did not know there were tons of homeschooling resources and catalogs out there. I had latched on to one catalog and ordered everything I thought I needed from that catalog. My order consisted of a McGuffey Reader, a simple math book, and the Rod & Staff ABC series. Prior to that, I had been tearing out pages from a Curious George coloring book, writing a letter at the top of the page and having my son copy the letter and color the picture (he was 4, by the way). I was doing my best with what I had.
But that all changed the following year. I began to research online. I got catalogs in the mail. I went to my very first homeschool conference with another first time homeschool mom. That year, I purchased an inexpensive all-in-one curriculum and knocked myself out doing everything in the book.
The next year, I bought the same curriculum, one grade up. However, part way into the year, I began to worry that my son wasn’t grasping phonics quite the way I thought he should. He was reading, but he was often skipping words that were too difficult for him or making up the endings of words because he thought he had the word figured out. I panicked and mid-year drug out my huge homeschooling catalog full of curriculum and purchased something different. My first time homeschooling mom friend apparently had the same panic moment because she and I ordered together to save shipping.
I could go on and on with this story…even now. I enjoy research. I enjoy learning about new curricula. I like to keep things fresh in our homeschool, and I am always trying to do things better and smarter. Most homeschool moms are just like me. But when the information we acquire from all our research, blog reading, and discussions with friends stops us dead in our tracks and keeps us from moving forward with energy, enthusiasm, and faith, we have to learn to shut it down.
The homeschooling movement has seen a dramatic shift from its original roots. Parents who homeschooled in the early days did so (illegally, in many cases) because they were extremely concerned with the influence and intrusion the public school was having on the family. It was NOT an educational movement. In fact, parents were taking whatever books they could find and using those to teach, rather than stressing over which homeschooling method was going to educate their child the best. The only methodology they had was the Bible and their firm belief that instilling their faith and values in the next generation could no longer be accomplished in the government-run schools.
As the homeschooling movement has shifted to an educational model, we have seen methods and curricula based on those methods pop up on every street corner. And the homeschool mom is suffering because of it. I know this because I’ve met a lot of homeschooling moms and the questions they ask me often revolve around choosing the “right” curriculum. I also know this because I’ve been that homeschool mom…bombarded with information, constantly questioning herself, feeling like nothing is a good fit, and wasting time and money in a quest that seems utterly hopeless.
But, there is hope!
I’m going to do a series on the reasons and solutions to the trouble of homeschool information overload. The posts will be as follows:
Why Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices are Stressing Us Out
Good and Bad Reasons to Change Curriculum
How to Tame the Homeschool Information Monster
Advice from the Finish Line (guest post from a veteran homeschool mom)
Finding Our Way Back Home
I hope you will join me to lend your input, ask your questions, and prayerfully move forward into this season of homeschool curriculum decisions.