Christian Homeschool Resources & Homeschooling Advice

Home Schooling and Second Guessing

  • Terri Camp Home school author and mother
  • 2004 27 Apr
Home Schooling and Second Guessing
As home-school moms, we face decisions and dilemmas that may affect the future of our children, sometimes it seems on a daily basis. Initially our dilemma stems from wanting to find the best curricula for our children. We attend conventions, talk to people who have gone before us, and ultimately settle on the item we have been most sold on. Sometimes it may be massive textbooks. Sometimes perhaps we go with simple paper and pencils and library books. And sometimes we even choose to wait for our child to explore his world and use his natural curiosity to educate himself.

With the rise of home schooling in America has come also a natural progression of products for every style of child, and every style of parent. This can also be confusing for us. Even the seasoned home schoolers second-guess if they have chosen the right method for their children.

I am not immune to the second-guess game. I have a library full of the best stuff on the market. Some I chose with the best of intentions. Some I chose because the speaker was powerful, dynamic, and made me think that if I had this perfect curriculum, my child would, dare I say, be nearly perfect.

For teaching my children to read I have used the full gamut of products. I used Alpha-Omega, ABeka, Pathway Readers, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and the Bible. I have started them at five-years-old, and delayed them until they were ready. So far, the oldest five can all read. I guess one of those things was the right way.

I have lamented about a child’s atrocious spelling. I have broken pencils over a child not understanding a math problem. I did not break it over the child’s head! I broke it on the floor in the bathroom where I was also nursing a sick child at the time. Perhaps it was just too much stress.

I have cried out to my husband that I just did not understand why one of the kids did not think Latin was fun! I thought it was fun. What is wrong with this child? "Or is it the curriculum?" I wonder. Couldn’t be the teacher. We’ll rule that one out right away. I mean after all, I was fun, used all the learning styles I could think of, made up silly stories to go along with the phrases, wrote on the white board in her favorite color. I even gave her a spiral notebook to use. Still she didn’t like Latin.

She also didn’t find great favor with a classic book I had chosen for her to read. She appealed to her dad who said she didn’t have to read it. Is it okay to get a new principal midstream? I pondered the thought for a second, then decided he was probably better than most so I would keep him on staff.

He told me I was being inflexible with her. My mouth dropped open. I am the most flexible home-school mom there is. Show me a more flexible mom and I will show you a gymnast!

But, after thinking about it, I realized that he was right. I wanted her to read the book because other kids were reading the book. I wanted her to read the book because I thought it would help her to read something that was full of sarcasm. I wanted her to fall in love with French Revolutionary history. She didn’t want to. She didn’t care about it. And the book was just plain hard to read. So I changed my plan for her.

By the time I had begun the formal education of my fourth child, I had become quite relaxed with the whole thing. I didn’t force stuff on him. I didn’t make him read right away. I allowed him to fly through his Saxon math books without holding him back.

One of the greatest elements of being a home-schooling mom is that we know our children’s strengths and we know their weaknesses. This can also be one of our greatest challenges as well.

We must get past comparing our children to other children, especially other children in the same family. Sometimes it’s very hard to do. John can easily sit down for an afternoon and write a five-page story that he made up. David cannot manage to squeak out even one sentence.

I decided recently to change in mid-stream some of my philosophies with David. I decided that David must learn how to write. His inability to take a thought from his head and put it onto paper dumbfounded me. As you can imagine being myself one who will spend hours spewing thoughts out of my head. How could he not be able to think then write?
I gave him his first big writing assignment. He had to write all of three paragraphs. He sat at the table, pencil poised, paper placed strategically between jelly plops. For hours he sat there. Finally I asked him what his problem could be. He began to cry. Okay, we can blame the teacher!

I had to rush out to an appointment but told him I would help when I returned home. As I was gone, I cried out to God. I didn’t know what to do with a child who sits with poised pencil, writing nothing. Gently God instructed me. He informed me that I was being too easy on him. It was time for some tough school with this boy.

When I returned home I asked to see his paper. He handed me a garbled mess of words, some capitalized, some not. The second row ran into the first row. He hadn’t even used lined paper. How could I be failing so miserably? I tried to remind myself how good he is in math and history. But it didn’t help. He needed to know this basic concept of writing thoughts on paper.

I knew he had within him the character to pull out some neat letters and some brilliant thought. Okay, I wasn’t after brilliance, all I wanted were three paragraphs neatly written.

Again gently the Lord instructed me. "One word at a time. Take it one word at a time." I asked him what the first word was that came to his mind. He told me it was the word now. So I said, "Write that down! It’s brilliant!" I then went for more basics. I told him, "Capital n, o that is half that size, and a w that is the same size as the o." Neatly he wrote the word. I did that also with the next word, and the next. Then I said, "Do you think you can take it from here?" He nodded, head bent as he continued working.

I felt we had achieved victory! Still I struggled with the thoughts of being too hard on him. Or perhaps I should just let him go a bit longer until he wants to write.

As I was struggling with these thoughts my oldest daughter came down the stairs and said, "Mom, is it better to spend more time mastering something that is difficult for you, or better to spend more time working on perfecting a passion area that comes easy to you?"

I told her, "Wow! That’s a great question!"

She replied, "You always say that when you don’t know the answer."

I hung my head in shame. Then I began telling her all about the workings of the human brain. I even suggested she perhaps might want to study the human brain to gain a greater grasp of how we reason and learn. Her eyes glassed over.

In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at or e-mail her at  

Check out Terri's latest book! Ignite the Fire! is a guide to help the parent create in their children an excitement for learning. It is loaded with ideas to spark your children. Buy it!