16 Jul 2014

Each year I look forward to attending NCHE’s homeschool conference in Winston-Salem. From all over the state we steadily roll in, building like a rising tide. For three days, we homeschoolers descend upon the city by the thousands, pushing strollers, pulling totes, packing sessions and perusing vendor booths. If I’m not careful, I can find myself drifting aimlessly over the sea of curricula, drowning in the waves of possibility. Look at the shiny new science book I’ve always wanted to try! Oh, that’s the character trait series my best friend was raving about! And over there: the phonics program that will solve all my problems! Be still, my heart—it’s the company who has the perfect unit studies with everything you need, all in one box!

Then that still, small voice of reason (or perhaps it’s the checkbook) speaks: “Keep it simple.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m very thankful for all the choices and options I have in homeschooling my children. I’ve heard many a story from homeschool pioneers that included, “When we started teaching our kids at home we were barely able to convince one company to sell us school books!” But in our zeal to provide our children the very best education, we often fall into the trappings of a newer and better mentality. Not only is this thinking costly, it becomes an entanglement. Suddenly I feel pressured to use this program, read that book or try this method because I paid for it. That pressure builds as I push my kids to finish every single lesson, fill out every worksheet, read every page. The results? It steals our joy, discourages our children and frustrates our husbands.

May I encourage you to live in the freedom of simplicity?  Let that idea wash over your weary soul like a soft summer shower, bringing refreshing hope. Be content with what you have, keep things simple, and enjoy this incredible journey called homeschooling!


Amanda Garner and her husband, Wes, have home educated all four of their children. They currently have two in college, a high school senior, and a middle schooler. Amanda is a regular conference speaker, freelance writer, occasional blogger, and most often, a regular homeschool mom and wife.