There’s no doubt that there are very defined preferences among homeschoolers about whether or not to use secular and faith-neutral curriculum. I've heard these very pointed questions when it comes to evaluating curriculum:
- Does that science book espouse creationism or evolution?
- Does your history curriculum align with the Bible?
- What is the worldview of that program?
We have chosen to homeschool for non-religious reasons, so the debate of whether or not to use secular curriculum is not difficult for us.
I choose our curriculum carefully. All year, I pour over catalogs and curriculum sites. I read reviews and constantly keep in check what we are using and whether or not it’s the best for each particular child. Whether or not a curricula contains Bible verses or spiritual references is not something I concern myself with on this job of choosing learning tools, and this is not to say that I am not a Christian (because I am). But I have several reasons for choosing secular curriculum.
There is a ton of great curriculum out there—both secular and religious-based.
Every year that I homeschool, it seems there’s more and more to choose from. I love choices though, and I consider being able to choose from a wide array of curricula and not being held to it by a school board as one of the very biggest perks to homeschooling. That said, I feel that I would be excluding a huge range of wonderful programs out there if I were to only look at religious-based curricula.
I’ve made a choice to homeschool my children which opens up a huge amount of freedom for me to choose what best fits my children and their very individual learning styles. Why would I close myself in by choosing only religious-based books?
Religious-based curriculum tends to leave out facts I want my kids to know about.
When it comes to certain subjects, there’s very little I shield my kids from. We watch the news together. We talk about current events. We carefully discuss politics and the issues at hand. One of our biggest jobs as parents is to prepare our kids for the big world out there, and I want to discuss this tough stuff while they are still at home with me.
I have found that some religion-based curriculum leaves out information about other religions or certain historical events, and this is not something I want for my kids. Discussing a wide array of religions is something that is very important in our family. We’ve had some amazing discussions around these topics, and I feel that if anything, the knowledge of other spiritual choices, makes my own faith stronger and it also gives myself and my children a better understanding of others and what they believe.
Subjects like grammar and spelling are not for instilling faith.
Can I just say that sometimes I think we just go overboard? We can be so afraid of the outside world infiltrating our homes and our children that we even try to incorporate our beliefs in our spelling books. I have a hard enough time getting my kids to enjoy grammar without trying to tie a Bible lesson into it. For subjects like this, I choose what’s best for my children, because I know that good grammar isn’t going to teach my child how to be a decent human being; it’s just going to teach her where to capitalize.
The bottom line for us is that we have choices. Secular curriculum has its place among those choices, so don't automatically rule it out even if you are passing your faith to your children.
About the Author
Alicia Hutchinson is the homeschooling mom to four. She and her children love reading and history and exploring outside. They are just settling into their new home in the Minneapolis area, where they just relocated from North Carolina.
You can read more about Alicia and their homeschooling adventures, current projects, and thoughts on motherhood at her blog Investing Love.