When I first began homeschooling, I focused heavily on the books we used. There wasn’t nearly as much good curriculum available as there is now, but I studied up on what there was, and once I made my purchases, I followed the directions in the teacher’s guides word for word….at first.
Like most homeschooling parents, I became more relaxed as I went along. But it took me a while to see that the key to learning success didn’t have much to do with what kind of books we used or how we “did school” each day. What really made the difference was that my kids had time to learn things on their own.
Take reading, for example. I started each child out with a reading curriculum, but no real progress was made until they found an appealing book that was too hard for them to read. Their desire gave them the incentive to work at reading the book. Lots of questions followed, and as I answered those questions, my children became more proficient and enthusiastic readers. The hours they spent reading after we came home from the library certainly helped the process.
Then there was art. The kids spent many rainy afternoons in the basement with big sheets of paper and tempera paints, or with modeling clay. The fact that they’re all creative now has its roots in those long hours devoted to experimenting with art supplies. Our eldest craves time off work so she can put in hours creating mosaics with glass. Her sister (currently in culinary training) loves experimenting in the kitchen. Our youngest enjoys making elaborate drawings at the desk in his room. And even our oldest son, who works a demanding job with lots of travel, enjoys finding ways to be creative in his work.
I believe the root of their creativity lies in the ample free time they had in their youth. Nobody told me how good that would be for them. But I’m telling you now: don’t get too worked up over teacher’s guides. Make sure to give your kids plenty of time to learn on their own.