Who is going to be the Grand Poobah of your homeschool?
First, let’s start by looking at who is NOT the Grand Poobah.
Curriculum is not the Grand Poobah of your homeschool. You are the teacher – you make the decisions. Homeschooling is all about customizing your children’s educational experience. Even institutional teachers occasionally decide to skip material or slow down at certain parts. Why not do the same if your children need it? Remember that the goal of an academic education is that your children learn the material, not just check off a box saying they read so many books and answered so many quizzes.
Your children are not the Grand Poobah of your homeschool. Time after time, I’ve seen parents wring their hands over their children’s bad behavior, as if there’s nothing they can do about it. In your role as parent, you control the food, the internet, the play time, and other childish desirables. Therefore, you have plenty of ability to sway your children’s behavior. You do not have to helplessly watch as they act like little stinkers.
The schedule is not the Grand Poobah of your homeschool. Schedules are for institutions. A homeschool is a family affair. So skip the schedule and instead establish a routine. A schedule says the house must be cleaned by 10 am. A routine says the house must be cleaned before school work commences. This gives you much more flexibility in your day. Routines are necessary to keep order in your home. But don’t let them become a god that takes over your life.
Your friends are not the Grand Poobahs of your homeschool. It’s easy to feel the need to look good in the eyes of friends, family and acquaintances. After all, they seem so sure of themselves when they give you advice! But remember this: They don’t know your children like you do. Their advice may be helpful, or it may not. But you must make the ultimate decisions on what to do based on what is best for your family.
The state is not the Grand Poobah of your homeschool. You should fulfill the basic requirements of the law. But don’t let fear of the law cause you to make decisions that are overly onerous for your family. Read the law carefully and do what is required – and that’s it. I’ve seen families get exhausted and burned out because they were trying to be some kind of “witness” to the officials by running themselves into the ground. That doesn’t help your family (your first responsibility) and it doesn’t help the homeschoolers around you who may not be able to do as much as you. If you choose to join an excessively busy co-op, let it be for reasons that benefit your family, not from perceived legal requirements.
Your church is not the Grand Poobah of your homeschool. Many churches in our state offer services to homeschoolers, such as co-ops, use of church facilities, tutoring, and so on. This is a wonderful blessing, but only use it in ways that will benefit your family. The fact that every other homeschooling family in your church goes to co-op classes on science every week does not necessitate you doing so, especially if you have a better way of teaching that subject in your family. This principle also applies to churches that are not so helpful to homeschoolers. For instance, the fact that every other family in church sends their children out of the main service into children's church does not necessitate you doing so. Do what is best for your family. Your church is not answerable to God for your children – you are.
So of course, after eliminating all these contestants for Grand Poobah, it’s becoming pretty clear who’s left, right? You’re thinking, sheesh, this is obvious – my spouse and I are the Grand Poobahs of our homeschool!
But that’s not quite right either. Rather, let us say you’re the Assistant Grand Poobahs. The real Grand Poobah, with no irreverence intended, is God. He is the One who laid down, millennia ago, the principles for training children. He is the One who set before us the goals of godliness and wisdom for which we strive. And He is the One Who gives strength and wisdom to all parents who ask for it.
God is a lot smarter than we are and He knows a lot more about training children! He has promised to help those who ask Him for wisdom (James 1). So as you begin another year of home education, think about Who your authority is when you make decisions. Are you letting friends, curriculum, the state or other outsiders be your homeschool’s Grand Poobah? Or are you asking God for wisdom in making every decision?
Written by Heather Sheen