We love traditional Christian textbook curricula for our homeschooling family. Through my eighteen years of homeschooling, however, I have regularly read homeschool literature where this choice of homeschooling materials is criticized. Very seldom, if ever, have I been encouraged by a homeschooling book or article in the direction of using textbooks for education. Many authors have indicated that my children will not love to learn if I use textbooks. Others tell me that my children will not grow up to be godly adults with strong character exhibited in their lives if I use textbooks for their education. At first, reading these books and articles distressed me and caused me to go back regularly to Steve about our curricula choices.
Reasons for Using Christian Textbooks
Now, however, we have been using traditional Christian textbooks for our homeschool long enough that I am secure in our decisions. In addition, we have personal experience and visible results in our children to refute those authors who say the negative things about using textbooks. I want to share our reasons for our traditional Christian textbook curricula decision. This may encourage others who have made the same choice but are usually discouraged by the homeschooling articles they read about curricula. It may also help some who haven’t considered traditional Christian textbooks as a viable homeschool curricula option.
I might also add that if you have chosen other methods of teaching, I am not trying to dissuade you in any way. Follow the path that God leads you down. In fact, I would suggest you not read this article any further as I don’t want to discourage you in your choice. This article is strictly to share the benefits we have experienced and encourage moms who might be struggling with doubts after reading or hearing negative words about traditional textbooks.
For nine years in our early homeschooling, we used unit studies. Then, when Sarah was entering high school, we switched to traditional Christian textbooks. Both Nathan and Christopher, our oldest children, have told us that they would have liked to have had textbooks for their high school education. Why? They observed Sarah’s study and learning from her textbooks. The textbooks were comprehensive and methodical. They liked history being completely and chronologically presented. They saw the thoroughness of the science textbooks. The boys believe Sarah received a better high school education than they did.
Homeschool textbooks helps us in our goals for our children. We see childhood as a training ground for adulthood.
While our children have time to play and enjoy being children, we think their school and chore time should challenge them to learn to work. We want these hours of their day to be very beneficial in helping them grow into responsible, productive, mature adults—ones who don’t need to have something be fun in order to choose to do it.
We find the traditional Christian curriculum to be thorough and complete, allowing us to give our children the type of education we want them to have. Studying the same material repetitively on a higher level as the successive years progress helps to cement in our children’s minds what they are learning. Rather than squelching their love for learning, textbooks have given our children the tools they need to pursue their personal interests. As a matter of fact, our younger children always ask for school books at age three or four when we don’t want them to start school until they are five.
Textbooks Help Schooling Multiple Children
I am able to homeschool my large family to achieve a maximum of learning for a minimum investment of my time. Traditional Christian curriculum helps me budget my school time plus my children’s time. I can work with an individual child for a scheduled amount of time. What doesn’t fit into that time frame, he can accomplish on his own without direction from me. I can schedule each child the amount of time he needs for each of his subjects, knowing approximately how long that subject will take him each day.
If there is a year when a baby is added into our lives and I don’t have as much time for school, I can cut back on my one-on-one school time and let my children do more of their school work on their own. When this is the case, we will spend our individual school time on the subjects with which they struggle, while they will work independently on the other subjects. School doesn’t have to be put on hold for several weeks while I am recovering from childbirth.
I love to read history and science with my children, but if there are days, or seasons, my one-on-one school time doesn’t allow for this, the children can read the lessons and answer questions on their own. We like to do science experiments during our individual half hour of fun together time. That way it doesn’t impact our school time, plus I find it easier to work with only one child when it comes to a science experiment.
With traditional Christian textbooks, I generally don’t have to weed out information I don’t want my children to be exposed to such as evolution, false religions and gods, mythology and fables. Romans 16:19 says, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” Deuteronomy 12:30 tells us to, “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.”
A traditional Christian curriculum requires little teacher prep time for me. Each week, I put the next week’s assignments on our assignment sheets or simply write the day of the week on the page in the child’s workbook if it is consumable. I don’t have to hunt up materials related to our studies, and we never miss school because I didn’t get around to doing what I needed to do in preparation.
School does not dissolve into “nothingness” if I don’t have school planning time. My children are not completely dependent on my time and availability in order for them to do school. On those occasions when I am sick or away, they can continue with their normal school day. We aren’t down with school because I am not available. This also helps to occupy their time when I am unavailable, and it makes those days function much more smoothly.
If I don’t have time to check the children’s schoolwork, they could actually check it themselves. I have a scheduled time in my afternoon for this, but if I were to be sick or gone for several days, I would allow them to do the checking themselves or check each other’s work.
There are other homeschooling families who are making the traditional Christian textbook choice. Here is what one says:
“My children also love their textbooks, and I have met several children going to college now who have expressed that they wished that their parents had stuck with a curriculum that would have provided greater consistency, especially in math.”
Here are the reasons another mom shares for liking traditional Christian textbooks:
- My husband wants me to!
- It offers structure.
- It requires less time by Mom for planning.
- It follows a logical sequence.
- Transcripts and records are easier.
- Easier to teach large numbers of children.
- Earlier student independence.
- More support for questions from publisher.
Finally, one more mom shares:
- They have the materials presented clearly and in an efficient way for learning—broken into reasonable “chunks.”
- They save me a lot of preparation time, making it possible for me to teach children at different levels easily.
- They provide an orderly way to move through materials year to year.
- They provide the tools of learning and a core of knowledge my children use to build onto with their own interests and strengths.
- They help my children learn that learning requires discipline and is not always entertaining.
- They make it possible for me to teach things in which I have little or no background.
One area of disappointment for us in some of the traditional Christian textbooks has come in their reading and literature courses. We have found only one acceptable publisher for this. Rod and Staff have the only textbooks we have come across that don’t have mythology, fables, violence, or extreme silliness in their elementary reading program. Rod and Staff uses strictly stories taken directly from Scripture until the end of fourth grade. We have chosen to have reading a separate subject from first through fourth grade.
As we choose our textbooks, we are careful to look at the books at a homeschool convention so that we can see if there are any objectionable themes in them. For example, our children have chosen not to date. One high school English textbook had a story running through it that involved a boy-girl dating relationship. Another English textbook had a sports theme in it, and our family has decided not to participate in sports. We want our textbooks to support our choices not undermine them.
These are many of the reasons we have decided to use a traditional Christian textbook curriculum. However, this does not mean that we don’t respect and support homeschoolers’ decisions to use other types of curricula and methods. We encourage each family to seek the Lord, review what is available, and make informed curriculum decisions for their children—based on discernment of the Lord’s goals for those children. What does bother us is when we read books and articles making it sound like no one could effectively homeschool their children using traditional Christian textbooks. We are here to say we are using Christian textbooks, we like them, and they are working!