Homeschool Essentials

Whether unschooled or highly structured, religious or secular, all homeschools encounter the same challenges. All successful homeschools exhibit the same essential qualities. This weblog will help you understand and apply those qualities, minimize frustration, and enjoy more success sooner.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Essential Quality II

If placing the learner at the center of the learning process is commonly overlooked, many at least pay lip service to it. Essential Quality II isn't even ignored-- it's almost not thought to exist.

But, true to its second place ranking, only putting the learner at the center is more important. And that truly is more important. However, that's somewhat like saying the most important component of water is hydrogen. It is, in that it takes twice as many hydrogen atoms to make a single water molecule. Nevertheless, without oxygen as well, you have no water at all.

Quality II is like oxygen in water. It comes second, but without it, success in your homeschool will elude you. Oh, yes, Quality II is-- "An Environment of Trust." Yes, trust.

Textbooks, methods classes, teacher training, the myriad of homeschooling books with the "Best Way" or even "God's Way" to homeschool never mention this simple fact. Learning involves trust. In my free e-book, "25 Essential Homeschool Quotations", I cite historian Will Durant's statement that "Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance."

That's certainly true, but the discovery of our ignorance is seldom comfortable. None of us wants to feel the fool. And this delicate business of learning always sits on a knife's edge between the joy of discovery, and the humiliation of ignorance.

Schools fail miserably on this point. And the more closely we emulate them at home, the worse our situation becomes. Why do schools fail so badly?

First, because of the simple rule of the peer group. The peer group, so treasured by the ignorant as a "socializing" force, is quite the opposite. Not only do they sneer at the ignorant and make fun of any child who gets a conspicuosly wrong answer, they also tear down anyone who does well. If every time you make a mistake, everyone else in the room starts ridiculing you, you'll get quiet in a hurry. And you won't trust anyone to help you learn.

Next, schools, and all too many homeschools, expend much of their energy identifying mistakes, as if that was the chief aim of learning. If we spanked babies for falling down, it would be hard for them to learn to walk. It also breaks the bond of trust.

In addition, schools for the most part simply act as if there is no functioning relationship between the teacher and the child, except for the amorphous one described as "discipline." But a martinet with children sitting rigidly in their seats, terrified of making a mistake, is often seen as a better disciplinarian than the teacher with a "busy-noisy" classroom, filled with the happy sounds of children exploring.

The ability to learn depends much more on the environment of trust than on having up-to-date texts and materials. Indeed, without trust, those texts and materials lose almost every bit of their value. In the next post we'll look more at this crucial quality of successful homeschools

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Essential quality 1 summary

Successful teaching of any kind, at home, in the school, or in church, or in industry, always must center, must focus, on the learner.

We've touched on why it doesn't work to put the teacher or the curriculum in the center. The knowing, learning student must be at the center of our process.

No matter how thorough the lesson plan, how brilliant the presentation, or even how appropriate the lesson to the learner, if the learner decides not to learn, he will not. The successful homeschool recognizes this and concentrates on the learner.

For this reason we tailor the curriculum to fit the learner, rather than the other way around (quality III). Because every learner is different, we will set appropriate goals (quality IV). And because everyone else will try to move the learner out of the process, we remain consistent (quality V). And yet, all of this will fail without the next quality, which we will take up in the next post.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

FREE: 25 Essential Homeschool Quotations

Tired of know-it-all neighbors or in-laws who always have something bad to say about homeschooling?

Want to refute the mistaken common knowledge of administrators and teachers who try to intimidate you?

Would you just like to read something positive about what you're doing?

Have I got a deal for you!

For a limited time, I'm offering the FREE e-book

25 Essential Homeschool Quotations

Find out what Mark Twain, Will Rogers, George Bernard Shaw, Henry Adams, and even John Dewey had to say about education. You will be surprised.

Here's my introduction:

"To hear school administrators, teachers, neighbors, and (sometimes) the in-laws talk, the sort of schools we have today are an eternal fixture. They came into being as soon as civilization was enlightened enough to understand the necessity for taking children forcibly from the home, and forcing them to endure years of boredom – to make them more capable.

How society reached such enlightenment without the blessing of schools is never addressed. Nor do they actually know what intelligent thinkers– teachers, philosophers, authors, preachers, and some downright geniuses– have to say about schooling.

Thus the reason for this little book. When you’re in the middle of a frustrating homeschool day, and some particularly annoying, self-appointed advocate for the schools gets in your face, wash your ears, and detox your mind, with a few of these quotations.

You’ll find that not only are you not crazy for preparing your children for life at home, but a lot of very smart people give good reasons why it’s the best way to go.

There’s no table of contents or index, and only a general sort of organization. The purpose is not to provide a systematic justification, but to provide a bouquet of soothing, reassuring, and inspiring words to help you get through the day. Read from front to back, or open at random."

Here's how to get the FREE e-book:

Send an me an e-mail with the words: "25 Essential Quotations" in the subject line. That's it. I'll send you a copy of the e-book in PDF format. You can send me an e-mail by clicking the link below. Don't forget to put "25 Essential Quotations" in the subject line.


There is no cost to you. You'll receive your very own, uniquely keyed copy.

Please do not copy or duplicate the book in any form. If you're interested in multiple copies for a support group, or for another purpose, let me know. If you cannot receive attachments to your e-mail, a hard copy will be available for a nominal cost to cover postage. I will not sell, lease, or otherwise reveal your e-mail address to anyone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Homeschool Essentials--Math

Before I resume the Five Essential Qualities of Successful Homeschools, I want to spend just a little time on Math.

I hope to write a booklet on Math exercises for unschooling. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts.

Few things are so poorly understood and poorly taught than Mathematics. In fact, few children are actually exposed to Math in any meaningful way. Most of what's taught in Elementary schools is Arithmetic, and drudgery at that.

Music and mathematics have many commonalities, yet we have a culture almost dominated by music, and at the same time virtually unaware of math.

If we taught music the same way we teach math, maybe there'd never be another garage band. It's hard to imagine a garage math group.

Imagine if you never heard music other than in elevators, or at professional gatherings. The first serious exposure to music began with: "This is a quarter note. Draw the note body, then the stem. Two quarter notes equal a half note." and so on. And the goal of music class was to prepare sheet music with all the notes in the right places.

Well, we do something like that with math. Instead of introducing children to the beauty of patterns, which is at the core of math, we start them with the notation. That's what notes are. They aren't music, they're simply the way we write it so that others can experience the melodies and harmonies we have heard or originated.

Well, that's essentially what numerals are: they are the notation, the way we write down the math we have discovered or observed.

So, what kinds of math experiences can we expose our children to, that will be somewhat comparable to listening to music? Well, we start our children out with lullabies, simple, soothing, easy songs that help the relax and go to sleep.

Most games can serve that same function, and most are mathematically based. Even young children enjoy matching the patterns on dominoes, or playing tic-tac-toe. Children with mathematical aptitudes will quickly demonstrate that they see the patterns involved.

I've worked with many children who had developed a phobia concerning arithmetic, and helped them identify and develop their aptitudes.

As they get older, and their games get more sophisticated, the opportunities are more involved. I learned to convert fractions to percentages by computing batting averages for baseball. My children learned most of their basic arithmetic--and very thoroughly, too-- playing monopoly.

As I said, almost all games are math based, and can be used for learning. I include links to purchase several I've found particularly useful in the past.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Being All They Can Be

Sadly, few young people ever reach this level of needs. With safety in such short supply, and threatened at every turn in most schools, students expend their energy assuring survival. At home, though, we can provide the opportunity for them to scale the heights, to fulfill their destiny, to fully answer their calling. Peer groups compound the injury by punishing differences. By definition, self-actualization must be different for each individual. Neither teachers nor parents can predict the calling for any particular child. Only as they grow and explore their own talents and gifts can they discover their destiny.

Twenty years ago, I thought I had such foresight, but time taught me otherwise. My nephew announced an intention to go into accounting and business. As I perceived his talents and temperament, nothing seemed less likely to offer success and fulfillment for him. I cannot speak to his fulfillment, but he has spent the last two decades working productively as an auditor. It quickly became evident that, my wisdom notwithstanding, he had picked his profession well. Humbled by that experience, I watched my own children grow with intense interest. My oldest, a boy (now a man), tinkered with mechanisms so much it seemed obvious he would choose engineering. Nope. He majored in History, gained experience in business, and now works in information technology. Increasingly chastened, I gave up predicting, even mentally, what paths my two daughters might take. For each it is an ongoing story, but for now, one seems headed toward social work and counseling, the other toward modeling, with a strong interest in signing for the deaf.

Trained as a teacher, experienced in working with developing children, a close observer of talents and gifts, and yet I couldn’t predict the paths my own children would choose! Had I designed their education to produce the outcomes I thought most likely, it would have served them ill. Fortunately, before I could commit that mistake, I had discovered the Five Essential Qualities, and that knowledge prevented me from further damage.

Given the proper conditions, your children will seek out their true calling as certainly as moths attracted to the light. The proper conditions, put simply, consist of assuring their first four levels of needs are met.

Later we will fill in the details of providing a safe, rich learning environment which enables students to discover their gifts. We’ll also examine how to identify their learning styles so that we can help maximize their ability in all areas. Learning styles dictate how they learn best, not what they can learn.

Now I just want assure you that, contrary to popular belief, children are driven to learn from their first moments. At the same time, we see that our best efforts will be in cooperating with this need, rather than frustrating it. To do so will require new thinking for many of us, new willingness to believe in our own children, new ways of looking at learning. If we can make the transition, success we literally cannot imagine can be ours, in our children’s success. They can be and do things we cannot imagine, things far beyond even our greatest hopes. But we will have to be willing to let them be themselves. This will prove one of our greatest challenges.

Children naturally need and desire to learn. One of the questions that recurs frequently is how to restore the love of learning. We must recognize that if they no longer love learning, then we or someone else must have taught them to disllike it. Dislike of learning does not come naturally. Like the children in Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s song, “they have to be carefully taught.” Rekindling their love of learning requires that we remove and counteract tthe influences that have taught them to dislike learning. I call that process de-toxing. We must however continually realize that we are the strongest influences upon our own children. If they dislike learning, we most likely have been instrumental in teaching them that unhappy lesson. So we must begin the search to rekindle learning in our own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Three Books for Parents

Wherever two or three homeschoolers are gathered together, they will discuss curriculum. If you want to be liberated from curriculm worship forever, read this timeless satire. It's either to good to be true, or to funny to be good--well, you'll see. I first read it in my grad school curriculum class. A classic!

A true story of a young teacher, himself just graduated from highschool, going to teach in a backwoods Kentucky school in the 1920s. He goes to the school where a young adult 6th grader had blacked his sister's eyes and driven her out of the teaching job. If that's not enough drama, find out the secret of "The Thread That Runs So True," the secret to learning he discovered, and shares with his readers. Fascinating!

Once you get over your reverence for curriculum, and learn the secret of learning itself, let Thomas Armstrong show you how to help your children learn "In Their Own Way." Armstrong, a Ph.D. in special education, leaves no sacred cow ungored. His chapter on learning disabilities, "Dysteachia" is worth the price of the book all by itself."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Esteem Needs and Learning

Learning, knowing, demonstrating competence builds our feelings of worth. That’s why wilderness survival programs help wayward teens. Overcoming hardship, discovering competence and endurance they doubted they had, restores the sense of worth that abuse, peers, and laziness eroded. From this fact, some reason that children need to be driven to learn. That overcoming adversity will put some starch in them. It’s true that whatever does not destroy you only makes you stronger.

Still, it doesn’t toughen infants to leave them out in the snow overnight. It kills them. There’s no virtue in wasting talent or energy on an impossible task. The value from attempting difficult things comes from what we learn in the attempt. Given developmentally inappropriate tasks, children only learn frustration and failure. At every stage, children need challenging but achievable tasks.

We don’t take our bedding plants out in the spring, and plant them before the last frost. A very few of the toughest species might survive, the rest would die. You wouldn’t make a puppy face a full-grown wolf.

“Nothing succeeds like success.” The more we experience real success, the more we build up a reserve of worth and esteem to sustain us through the times of discouragement and mistakes to ultimate success. A trained athlete may run a marathon. But the average weekend warrior might have a heart attack. An infant could not survive a twenty mile walk, much less a run. So, yes, we gain by overcoming difficulty. The emphasis on the overcoming. The difficulty must be guaged to our abilities so that it will challenge but not defeat us. Simply raising standards and test score requirements will not produce superior students. If we produce superior students, their test scores will rise.

At the same time, we all value the memory of triumph over difficulty, of obstacles overcome, of barriers vanquished. Like Olympic divers, we measure our achievements by degree of difficulty as well as how well we execute them.

Every time we exhibit competence, we overcome difficulty, we accomplish something beyond the ordinary, it builds our sense of worth. When others take positive notice of these things, it builds our sense of worth. Learning enhances our competence, and our opportunities for overcoming ever greater obstacles, so learning naturally feeds this need for esteem.

This powerful need cuts both ways, however. Repeated failure chips away at our sense of worth. We may be labeled as failures by ourselves or others. If a specific skill, like long division, or specific subject matter, like history, becomes associated with continued failure and frustration, we avoid it in order to maintain our esteem. We don’t want others to see our inability, we fear to expose our incompetence. In order to preserve our limited reservoir of value, we avoid those situations where it may be damaged.

When learning experiences become identified with loss of esteem, we shy away. “Once burned, twice shy,” goes the old proverb. Psychologists tell us that it actually takes three positives to erase each negative. We will revisit this issue repeatedly, because this problem occurs more often than any other. Adults continually attempt to accelerate academic achievement. Often adults urge tasks on the learner without regard to readiness. The same task which may be mastered with ease at the proper time, may be literally impossible, or prohibitively difficult, if attempted too early.

Parents naturally feel disappointed when children do not live up to their expectations. Children interpret this as disappointment in them, personally, and lose worth. In their eagerness to please, they may continue to attempt the impossible, but when it becomes clear they cannot succeed, they become dispirited and give up.

As in so many instances, the danger here is that the parents will confuse their children's achievement or lack of it with their--the parents--self-worth, with their own esteem. In their efforts to protect their own bruised egos, they injure their children instead.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Is it Safe to Learn?

Physiological Needs and Learning

As the hierarchy concept would predict, many of children’s earliest learning concerns meeting their physiological needs. At first the child has only crying as a means to communicate every negative experience, whether hunger, cold, discomfort, pain, or fear. Learning to point to the mouth, pat their mother’s breast, speak the word “eat,” make their first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or grow a garden all arise from, and service the need for nourishment. You can see, through the progression of tasks mentioned, that just as the need to eat does not disappear with the years, neither does it’s power to motivate ever more complex learning.

Learning to speak and communicate aids the child in meeting his own basic needs. So does learning to walk. As time goes on, ever more complex tasks may be addressed and mastered, with the root purpose of meeting needs at this fundamental level. Lack of ability, even brain damage, do not lessen the need to learn, they only make it more difficult, and more urgent. The less we can do to meet our own needs, and the more we must depend upon others, the greater the likelihood that one or more of our needs will go unnoticed and unmet. Learning, a key to survival, becomes as necessary as oxygen or food or warmth.

Lack of physiological needs can block and/or limit learning. Hungry children will be open to learning anything which can bring them food in the short term. Anything else will fade from view, driven away by the need to eat. Cold children may be interested in learning to build a fire, but lack interest in building ice castles. Thirsty children may show no interest in fire-building.

At this level, we recognize the importance of needs, by providing school lunch programs and the like. Somehow, schools and parents alike lose track of the higher levels of needs, and how they affect learning.

Safety Needs and Learning

Meeting physiological needs today raises the possibility of tomorrow. As soon as we can think as far as tomorrow, we want to assure our continued existence. That raises the issue of safety. Perfectly well-fed and clothed people die in accidents and at the hands of others. Meeting physiological needs makes continued existence possible, and allows us to think about increasing the probability, the likelihood, of continued existence. That requires safety.

A stable emotional and psychological atmosphere contribute to the sense of safety, and facilitate learning. Children need both parents, so a two-parent household, where the parents love their children and one another, builds safety, and liberate the children emotionally and psychologically. Conversely domestic abuse, fighting, and divorce make learning more difficult. Illness, financial difficulties, or anything which results in domestic unrest, will inhibit learning.

As mentioned earlier, schools generally ignore these situations until they reach crisis proportions. But we need to recognized that any lack of safety inhibits learning. Demanding that children assume normal learning loads when under stress is unrealistic. Schools do it because they lack knowledge of home conditions, and the lack the time or interest to inquire. Homeschool parents do it to occupy the child and reduce their own stress. Whatever the reason, it reduces safety and runs the risk of turning kids off to learning.

Consistent, understandable rules and loving discipline likewise contribute to the child’s sense of safety. Regularity in meals, bed and rising times contribute to stability. For children, routine, the familiar, the predictable, feels safe, and safety encourages learning. Normal life provides plenty of variety to keep our interest, if we’re open to it.

As safety increases learning, so learning can increase safety. The ability to identify possible threats, and design counter measures increases safety. Learning not to closely approach, hurtful things; learning to use tools (like scissors and hammers) properly; understanding what behaviors provoke violence from others–all these increase the sense of control over the environment, and ability to preserve oneself from danger.

Do not take safety for granted. Parents, teachers, and peer groups often make learning so dangerous that children fear to attempt it. A child’s apparent lack of interest in learning often stems from a lack of safety in the learning environment.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Learning in the Heirarchy of Needs

Children need to learn. If they show resistance to learning, then there’s something wrong in the learning environment. It’s almost certainly not learner focused. In spite of our best intentions, we parents take over center stage.

I’m going to talk straight here, at the risk of offending some parents. There’s no gentle way to say this. Children rarely resist learning, but they often resent and resist our efforts to teach them. This remains true, whatever the setting, whether at home or at a formal school. Children learn because they possess an inherent need to understand their world. Adults teach in order to satisfy appetites of their own. Whether it’s to be seen as a competent parent, or to demonstrate our ability at long division, we lecture and instruct for our purposes, not to meet children’s needs. Maybe we do it because we fear our children are “falling behind,” and that reflects poorly on our homeschooling. We rationalize that it’s for their own good, but we’re only fooling ourselves.

"Whatever educates us merely for its own use, without regard to us as living beings, whatever takes us for granted, degrades and impoverishes us. It does not matter that we are told it is for our own good.” Haniel Long

When we buy into the notion that children are mentally lazy by nature, that we have to force them to learn, we have turned learning into a contest with our children, a contest which we cannot win. “Nothing is harder than the human head,” one of my college professors told me. No one can doubt that when attempting to teach an inattentive seven-year-old the sound of “oi,” or the sum of two numbers.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated what we know as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” This hierarchy of needs can be useful in understanding human nature. For our purposes, they demonstrate the fundamental importance of learning. When we cooperate with these needs, children learn quickly and without need for external motivation. Frustrate these needs, and learning quickly becomes more and more difficult.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological. These include such things as oxygen, food, water, shelter. Things which, should we lack them for long, would kill us. We see the truth of this all over the world. In secure these, people are willing to run terrible risks, because they have to in order to survive.

2. Safety. No sooner do we secure sources of food, water, and other physiological needs, than we begin to contemplate safety. Should our physiological needs be endangered, we would once again forget safety in order to secure survival. But as soon as we know where our next meal is coming from, we want to be around to enjoy it.

3. Love, Affection and Belongingness. In order to escape loneliness and overcome alienation, we all need relationships where we can give and receive love, affection, and experience belonging. Peer groups actually punish achievement. Children may avoid or hide competence in order to belong.

4. Esteem. We all need an abiding sense of personal worth. Without it, we lack the confidence necessary to life a fruitful life.

5. Self-actualization. The U.S. Army tapped into this need with it’s long-running, “Be All That You Can Be,” advertising campaign. This speaks to our “destiny,” or our “calling.” Each of us has something to do, some skill to develop and express, some path to follow, unique to ourselves. If we find and fulfill this calling, it gives us the greatest sense of personal fulfillment. Until we do, we will feel restless and discontent. If, however, the lower levels of needs are threatened, we will have to attend to them in preference to this one.

These five types and levels of needs form a hierarchy, because we seek to meet the most important of these needs before all else. Only when satisfied that the first levels of needs will continue to be provided, do we turn our attention to the next and higher levels. Taking nothing away from Maslow’s insights, which I value greatly, these seem self-evident at each level. Like all great truths, once someone articulates them, we wonder why no one ever saw it before.
When we look at this hierarchy in terms of learning, we discover the need to learn permeates these levels from top to bottom. We can also see how various learning tasks fit into the hierarchy. Finally, we can see how frustrating these needs blocks learning.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Children Need to Learn

"In the education of children
there is nothing like alluring the interest and affection;
otherwise you only make so many asses laden with books."
Michel de Montaigne

Children need to learn. From the first moments of birth, they seek meaning in their environment. Not a passive blank slate, waiting for others to write whatever they will, children aggressively interact with their environment. This fundamental truth underlies the whole learning process. If, at some point, children choose not to learn something, no power short of torture can force the proper response from them.

I’ll say it again. Children need to learn. As surely as they hunger for food, they hunger for knowledge, for understanding. If a child stops eating, we immediately know something is wrong. Few would attempt to force-feed a child they thought ill. Yet that’s just what we do with children who lose their appetite for learning. Again and again, when asked to help people with their homeschooling challenges, I find this fundamental misunderstanding. Seldom do parents ask, “Why doesn’t my child want to learn?” Instead, they inquire, “How can I get my child to . . .?”

Parents bring me the most odious textbooks, and wonder why the child refuses to partake. Now, I like textbooks, but I’m a little odd. I’ve kept nearly every one of my textbooks for reference. I still have my seventh grade reading workbook, because of two special stories it contains. Rarely, however, do I take those old textbooks off the shelf and just read through them. Wonderful for reference, they make pretty dull reading fare.

Children need to learn, they enjoy learning as much as they enjoy food, sometimes more. I keep saying this because keeping this fact before you simplifies homeschooling. I asked one mother her main goal for her eight-year-old son one year. “I want him to learn to love reading!” she said.

“Excellent!” I replied, then asked, “How do you plan to go about doing that?”

“I’m going to force him to read two hours every afternoon,” she said. That’s an exact quote.

Stunned, I asked, “Do you think that’s likely to help him to love reading?”

“Well,” she shrugged, “at least he’ll do it.” Now, I enjoy reading, but I’m not always ready to devote two full hours to it. And I had my eighth birthday during the Eisenhower administration. Generally speaking, two hours represents far too long a time period for an eight-year-old boy to spend reading at a stretch. Try as I might, I couldn’t get that mother to see that her son’s reluctance to read was the direct result of her approach. Even more strange, he actually read far better than average, and enjoyed reading. After an hour or so, though, he found it taxing and wanted a change.

Years later, I saw her and her son at the "graduation" of another homeschooler we both knew. My wife, knowing the history, talked with the mother a little, asked her how her son was doing. "Oh, pretty good," the mother said. "But he doesn't like to read much."

Who'd a-thought?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


"Wherever two or three homeschoolers are gathered together, they will discuss curriculum."
--your humble servant

After leaving grad school, I served on curriculum committees, even designed several different specific curricula which were then put into service. Yet I never had such sustained discussions of curriculum until I left teaching, and began working with homeschool families.

Homeschool conferences and convocations, magazines and support groups seem obsessed with curriculum. Of the many calls, letters, and e-mails addressed to me, fully 75% concern curriculum.

If you've been following this blog, or have read the last couple of entries, you know what I'm going to say next. This is nothing less than putting the curriculum in the center of the learning system. It's been tried for centuries, and it never works.

I'm always amused by the homeschoolers, some of whom I know well, who think themselves tremendously independent thinkers, but who can't resist the siren song of "curriculum." I'm particularly amused by those claiming the purest Christianity, who have nonetheless adopted the curriculum of ancient Greece. Since my graduate degree is in Religious Education, one of the central contrasts of history is 'Jerusalem vs. Athens.'

Curriculum should be tailored to the student, not the other way around. We'll get to that more in the second essential quality. Putting the curriculum in the center means we'll try to force the student's mind to fit an arbitrary set of information, an approach to that information, a method of learning that information-- all of which were designed by someone who never met your child. More than that, they didn't have your child, or any real child, in mind.

Yet so often, this is the first question parents ask. What curriculum should I use?

Any real teacher, anyone who really understands the learning process, will respond to the curriculum question by asking questions about the one being taught.

Your child, your particular treasure, with his/her own way of seeing the world, expressing thoughts, and with a unique set of abilities. No one, no matter how educated or brilliant, can devise a course of study for your child without knowing your child.

The fact that you know your child better than any teacher can is one of your chief advantages in helping your child learn. Don't throw it away.