Why Our Christian Family Chooses Secular Homeschooling Resources
I've been very fortunate to be surrounded by a community of homeschoolers for my entire homeschooling career. Several of my friends decided to homeschool the same year I did. We spent those early years figuring out the ropes of home education, bouncing resources, curriculum ideas, and stories of good and bad days with each other. While I've always been tremendously grateful for these relationships, I often felt like a bit of an outsider in my local homeschooling circles.
I met most of these fellow homeschool moms through church or Christian homeschooling co-ops. While we shared a common desire to educate our children at home and a love of Jesus, my liberal values on faith, politics, and human rights made me a bit of an anomaly in Christian homeschooling circles, which tend to be very conservative.
I can remember the early days of questioning popular Christian homeschooling curriculum/co-ops and realizing these were not good fits for our family. I quietly changed our curriculum but stayed silent about our choices for a long time for fear of judgment by our community. As I have become more vocal as a Christ-follower who is pro-LGBTQ, working on becoming anti-racist, and rejects much of conservative, evangelical Christianity in general, I've become more comfortable sharing how my evolving faith has shaped our homeschool choices.
As more and more people investigate homeschooling, I want to share our perspective as a progressive Christian family to give others information on robust resources for secular homeschoolers and Christian homeschoolers who don't fit the mold. I also want to challenge my fellow Christian homeschoolers to take a critical look at popular Christian homeschooling curriculum. In addition to the problems we found with Christian curriculum specifically in history, literature, and science, I'll share specific secular resources we have used and loved.
History and Literature
Far and away, a lack of diversity in traditional Christian homeschool curriculum is a significant reason we have avoided those resources. Many of these curriculums tell a white-washed story of history that is Eurocentric, pro-colonization, and full of white saviorism. White missionaries are glorified, while the only mention of Indigenous peoples comes as a call to pray for their salvation. The narratives of slavery and the Civil War from these curriculums also tend to be problematic.
We didn't even make it through 3 months of our first American history curriculum from a Christian homeschool publisher before we scrapped the whole thing. We have also found Christian literature book lists to contain few works by authors of color.
In raising my children to be good citizens of the world, they must hear diverse perspectives told by people from various cultures.
Secular Resouces for History and Literature:
Oh, Freedom! from Woke Homeschooling (I'm linking the secular version, there is a Christian version as well, and it's the only Christian history curriculum I would recommend)
The first science resource I used for my young children was a Christian science text. Several friends had recommended it to me as a robust elementary science curriculum. But when we were copying Bible verses out of context to supposedly justify a Young Earth creation (the idea that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, was created in 6 days, and that humans co-existed with dinosaurs), I knew it was a miss for us. While I will agree that a literal 6-day creation is possible, it's highly improbable and misses the fact that the creation narratives found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, are poems. We don't take poetry as scientific fact outside of a religious context, nor should we within one. As a Christian who also believes in evolution as one of God's most ingenious ideas, I look for resources that teach evolution as the predominant theory.
Secular Resources for Science
Why We Choose a Neutral/Secular Co-op
We began our homeschooling journey as a part of a popular Classical education co-op that focuses heavily on memorization in the early years. When I wrote to both the curriculum publisher and the official Facebook page about my concern with my then 6-year-old memorizing a history sentence with the words"Muslim terrorists," I was met with criticism and dismissal. This same publisher touts the importance of memory work, placing "pegs" in children's brains for further learning. Because I didn't want my children associating Muslims with terrorists, I felt compelled to speak up. The reaction I got made it clear my concerns fell on deaf ears. We left the co-op at the end of that year and have since found a neutral community ( not secular, but doesn't push any religious agenda and welcomes all) that we love. We find the neutral/secular co-ops we've been a part of also have greater ethnic diversity, which we highly value as a family.
Eight years into my homeschooling journey, I happily embrace secular resources. These texts and programs allow me to teach my children without needing to undo incomplete, biased history, shoddy science, or bad theology. We add faith into our discussions where appropriate rather than have it baked into the curriculum.
Any favorite secular curriculum options I missed? Please share your favorites in the comments!