The Home Education Patch: You can always tell when children are on this homeschool diet. They look like they're trying to cover up a blemish. A single, non-reuseable adhesive patch (which looks exactly like a Band-Aid) is placed on the student's face, preferably on the temple or forehead. Each patch contains an easily absorbed compound derived from pulverized textbooks and is practically harmless . . . to most people.

The package instructions insinuate that multiple subject patches may be used at one time, providing they are compatible with each other. For example, the M-Patch (math) can be used with the SS-Patch (social studies) or an SP-Patch (spelling), but not the CW-Patch (creative writing). Incompatible compounds tend to cancel each other out. Because each child is different, the manufacturers suggest that parents utilize the trial and error method. My Personal Patch Representative said that as long as you follow the guidelines, there should be no problems or side effects—provided the student is not on any medication and is under the constant supervision of a licensed HEP physician.

Homeschooler Diet Card Systems: This entire kit is contained in a lovely black leatherette (aka vinyl) case about the size of your checkbook. Each case holds 12 Subject cards, 24 Elective cards, and three Freebie cards in the left-hand side pocket. On the right side there are 10 Alternative cards. Each morning you will choose the subjects, the intensity level, and the length of time you will commit to homeschooling for the day. Locate the cards on the left which apply to your situation and the individual needs of each child. Throw those cards in the trash can. Now choose three or four cards from the right-hand side and follow the instructions on them to the best of your ability.

Let me tell you, this program sells itself. The best part is the Simple Trade Off  Program (STOP)—the Alternative cards on the right side. Each color-coded card suggests a particular subject and its appropriate time constraints. If you follow the plan, you will achieve the corresponding results, guaranteed. It's that simple. For example:

     •   One hour of geography yields a two-hour headache.

     •   Complete one book report = feel as if you have been riding Space Mountain for two days.

     •   Four hours of science = one kitchen disaster that takes eight hours to clean up.

     •   Give one advanced level spelling test = enjoy a nervous breakdown.

     •   Thirty minutes of home economics = organize schoolwork by the amount of whining it creates.

The Freebie cards work like the Get Out of Jail Free card from your Monopoly game. The directions read, "Stay in bed for one day, relax, watch TV, drink coffee. Read a good book while listening to the kids argue. Understand that a day off makes your children's brains lose significant amounts of fresh valuable information. Tomorrow you will start the entire year from scratch and therefore end up going to mid-July because you just ‘had to have a day off.'"

With all these choices, promotions, promises and sales pitches, I was beginning to wonder if this was a nightmare or if I was suffering from a bad case of deja vu. Is there really a simple way to homeschool? Can my children learn faster by switching to another curriculum? Is education supposed to be easy? Do I need to panic and reevaluate my homeschool every time something new and promising comes out? Don't consistency, familiarity, and predictability have any merit? Aren't the effects of homeschool diet-hopping detrimental to a family's mental health? Won't a regular, nutritious diet and exercise plan achieve better results than living through the vicious cycles of buying into a new fad and then becoming discouraged again in three weeks when I discover "it didn't work for me"? Isn't God capable of using my current resources and finances to fulfill His will for me and my children?