How and Why to Choose a Christian CurriculumJimmie Lanley
On December 10, 2013, Tyler Hogan and three homeschool moms, Suzanne Broadhurst, Sam Kelley, and Jimmie Lanley, held a live hangout about the importance of choosing a Christian curriculum.
There were so many great nuggets of wisdom in this hangout that covered not only homeschooling but also parenting, critical thinking, and discipleship. We don’t want you to miss any of the great ideas, so the video is right here.
If time is short, use the outline and time-stamps below to zero in on the sections you want to hear. Feel free to comment on the YouTube video, on the event page, or on this post right here. You can pin this video to Pinterest too!
And be sure to join us for our next hangout when we talk about using timelines for homeschool history lessons.
1:49 How do you evaluate a Christian curriculum?
Sam Kelley: Look for samples. You can adapt curriculum or skip certain parts. In order to create the perfect curriculum that you agree with 100%, you probably need to write it yourself.
Suzanne Broadhurst: Religious is not the same as Christian. Evaluate everything by the Bible. When you make mistakes, your children will learn through it.
5:00 How important is it to you that your curriculum be Christian?
Sam Kelley: We homeschool for religious reasons, so it’s natural for us to choose it. We select 90% Christian 10% other. Worldview and creation are important to us to be presented from a Christian point of view.
Suzanne Broadhurst: Christian curriculum can limit your framework when it omits things outside the Christian point of view. The Mystery of History lays a foundation that allows you to study all kinds of things and provide a lens through which to look at non-Christian topics.
8:27 What subject areas are the most important to be taught from a Christian point of view?
Sam Kelley: History has to be Christian. We use The Mystery of History. And science has to be Christian for us. We use secular language arts curriculum. Our math (Saxon) is Christian, and that’s icing on the cake.
Tyler Hogan: My homeschool experience was eclectic, a mix of Christian and not. I love Christian curriculum and all the options we have. But for certain subjects, it’s okay to use a non-Christian curriculum as long as you have a teacher who has the confidence to offer the comparison/contrast of the Christian worldview with what is presented in the lesson. This kind of dialogue is great for a student’s critical thinking skills.
It is less important to have a Christian curriculum for rule based topics such as math, grammar, and music theory. History, literature, religion, and philosophy should be Christian based.
12:58 Why is it so important that history be taught from a Christian point of view?
Suzanne Broadhurst: I hated history as a young person. It made no difference to me because it was told from a secular perspective, and there was no purpose to it. When I became a Christian, I learned why history made sense (Jesus), how it is interesting, and how God has worked from Creation to now (and into the end of time). When we look at history through a Christian lens, we see our personal responsibility for our actions. History is now something I love because of Jesus.
Heather Woodie (from the event page): Getting to know the topic from multiple points of view is a critical thinking opportunity.
Tyler Hogan: Since we used a mix of Christian and non-Christian materials, it was clear that every author had a different perspective. We learned that everything we read had to be evaluated in light of the Scripture. We studied one year of Creation science using a book that presented a lot of facts without much interpretation. We, as students, with our teacher’s help, made those conclusions ourselves. We realized that there were multiple ways to interpret facts. And we used the guideline of the Bible as the measure. Those analytical skills can be applied to other subjects: geography, electives, even how you spend your free time.
19:35 Tyler Hogan: I don’t know any strong Christians who were raised in a Christian family who didn’t get the chance to think critically about their faith and asking hard questions about it.
Jimmie Lanley: Using Christian curriculum doesn’t mean you never use anything else that differs from that belief. You want to expose your children to those opposing views to strengthen their faith.
20:35 Tyler Hogan: Do homeschoolers shelter their kids? This is a hot-button topic. When kids are younger, they need sheltering. Our culture has no idea what age-appropriate means. As they are younger, part of what they need shelter from it not just content but worldview. Some PG rated movies have a very terrible worldview presented as cute and cuddly. I want to protect them from that insidious untruth when they are young as well as from the obviously inappropriate content. Even my four year old will ask tough questions. She sees the differences between Bible truth and the way characters in the fairy tales act.
22:30 Discussing the progression from mostly Christian curriculum in the early years to a blend of resources as children mature into the abstract thinking phase (middle school).
Suzanne Broadhurst: Young children can learn to identify contrasts with Christian worldview. We need to talk openly about the differences. Allow our children to ask questions. Keep those lines open. Now that my kids are in college, we still have open lines of communication. And they come to me with all kinds of topics! Sometimes as homeschoolers, we are very protective of our kids. But we need to make sure we are encouraging them to reach out in compassion to the lost. They need to be able to interact with all kinds of people of all kinds of worldviews.
27:20 What is communication like in your home? Is it okay to ask the hard questions of faith?
Sam Kelley: We do not live a sheltered life. We instill in our children that we are in the world but not of the world. Although our curriculum is Christian, other parts of their lives do expose them to all kinds of worldviews: books they read, relationships with friends, and media they see. We don’t encourage our children to go into the world as the salt until they are themselves spiritually ready to do that.
32:29 Kela Nellums (from the event page) “Everyday conversations seem to work better than sitting down to specifically discuss something as a lesson.”
32:35 Do you demand that all of the books your children read be Christian?
Tyler Hogan: Our children are young, so it’s easy for us to pre-read everything before we read it to them. When we don’t pre-read or pre-watch a show, we tend to get presented with something tough to address with a four year old. When we pre-read, it’s not because we are looking for things contrary to our worldview because we don’t want to talk about them. It’s because we do want to talk about them. We want to take advantage of those opportunities and be ready to do so. Of course, you do it at an age-appropriate level. But even very young children can do simple comparison and contrast of two different views.
I am excited for when my children are in high school and we can compare the two novels Dracula and Frankenstein. One has a Christian worldview, and the other has an atheist worldview.
35:28 Tyler Hogan: We have so many curriculum options. That is both a blessing and a curse. If you didn’t grow up in a home where Christian worldview was taught, it can be very intimidating to choose a curriculum or teach worldview. If you are in that situation, I suggest that you talk to the publishers. Ask them questions about their worldview. Publishers have taken great care with the content of their books. They are happy to let you know what their stance is. Call them or talk to them at conventions/conferences. Ask them specific questions as to how they handle different issues.
37:55 Pre-read and read alongside your children rather than trusting any curriculum publisher, even Bright Ideas Press.
Tyler Hogan: I appreciate the trust that our customers give us, but educating your children is your responsibility. So parents should preview, pre-read, and know where publishers are coming from. With some thick curriculum, you can’t pre-read it all, and that’s why with our products, we give parents warnings that tricky topics are coming up.
40:00 Sam Kelley: When you first start homeschooling, it’s common to select what’s popular and what everyone else is using. But it’s better to get to know the publishers and know your options so you don’t waste money or time. Plus you will know exactly what areas you want to zero in on for discussions.
43:00 Suzanne Broadhurst: It does make a difference if math is taught from a Christian perspective when it comes to practical application of how we use money. God’s stance on stewardship is very different from the world’s view of how we handle our finances.
Physical geography is also not a Christian or non-Christian topic. We don’t have Christian globes, for example. But the interpretation of geography does make a difference when it comes to a Christian or non-Christian worldview.
As my children got older, I maintained the right of veto to any of the books they read. And if I felt a book was not a good fit for them, I would use that veto. Without exception, all of the books that I originally said no to, my children read later and thanked me for not letting them read it at the younger age. Use that veto right cautiously. First read or skim the book before you decide to keep it from your child.
45:20 Suzanne Broadhurst Discuss the cults with your children. We talked to our children about the appealing and positive things about the cults so our children would not be tricked by them.
47:50 Tyler Hogan: No matter what curriculum you end up using, the most important piece of curriculum in your homeschool resource is you. Your kids are going to be learning more from you than from any book you use. I can’t remember half of the books we read when I was a child, but I remember my mom and dad. And I remember how they handled those books and how they handled me.