Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Recently we were visiting the Alamo in San Antonio when I had one of those moments. If you are a homeschooler (particularly if you are the one who does most of the teaching) you'll be able to relate to the type of moment I'm talking about. It's the moment when you're somewhere hearing information pertaining to one of your child's subjects and you think to yourself, "Oops! I didn't teach them that!" I have those moments all the time. Sometimes it's at church when the Bible Study teacher asks all of the kids a question and my kids don't raise their hands. Other times it's been in a co-op situation, when there's some background information with which the other kids are familiar and my child isn't. It's even happened a few times while watching "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" as a family! "Oh, no! I haven't taught them that! What kind of homeschooler am I??" Two weekends ago, we were standing in the Alamo looking at the exhibits, flags, and timelines and I had that "I-didn't-do-a-good-job-of-teaching-Texas-History-this-year" feeling. I even said as much to my daughter. "Oh, yes you did!" was her reply (partly to reassure me and partly because she was probably afraid I'd want a "do-over" this year!)

At one time or another we've either had that feeling, or we've worried about "gaps" in their learning. We look for curriculum which doesn't leave any gaps. We don't switch curriculum publishers for certain subjects because we don't want gaps. We teach material we've never heard of in our lives because of the gaps in our own educations, and we certainly don't want those gaps for our kids, no sir! A gap-free education. That's what we want for our kids, right?

Well, there's no such thing! First of all, there isn't a Complete Body Of Knowledge with which every child needs to leave home at age 18. It would be great if it were that easy, but it would take more time than we have available to teach! It makes me think of the Yeats quote, "Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." There is no bucket full o' facts with which we can fill their minds. No curriculum is "gap free." There are high points in history, key concepts in math and reading, certain scientific techniques and facts, and grammatical correctness. But, every curriculum has its slant, every book reflects that author's particular leaning. Everyone has to leave out something. The key is, rather than worrying about our kids having gaps,we must work to help them become lifelong learners who can fill in their own gaps. Everytime I watch the History channel, read a good book, or prepare their lessons, I'm filling in my own gaps. Hopefully I'll be filling in gaps the rest of my life, and I'll still never know it all!

I am reminded of one of my favorite acronyms for GAP- God Answers Prayer. Isn't this so applicable to teaching our children? I can pray that I've taught them well. I can pray for forgiveness for times I've blown it. I can pray that just as He did for Daniel and his three friends, He would give my children "learning and skill in all literature and wisdom" (Daniel 1:17). I can pray that God will bring to their minds what He needs them to know when He needs them to know it. I can pray that in my planning for our upcoming year I will choose curriculum which reflects excellence and glorifies God most of all. Everytime I'm tempted to "remember the Alamo" and feel inadequate and defeated, I can pray.

Pray, teach them diligently, and leave the gaps to Him. We can do that because God answers prayer!


Sherri said...

Great post...very good point!!
We were so lucky when we took our kids to the Alamo three years ago. They happened to be showing the Alamo movie at the IMAX, so we were able to watch it then walk over to the Alamo. Hey...that was before my homeschooling days...I would have considered it a big field trip had we been homeschoolers!

Kristi said...

Thank you for the reminders!! Especially helpful this time of year when planning for the upcoming year ;).

Alycia said...

Thank you Cyndi for such an encouraging post. With only one year experience under my belt, I am still finding myself trying to make sure I cover those "gaps" as I try to figure this all out. Your post was perfect timing for me! Blessings to you and your family!

playingschool said...

Thank you for addressing this topic and saying it so wonderfully. Since we're "off on our own" and noone is choosing exactly when and how we should teach things, it is easy to feel like we're going to mess things up. Thanks for the reminder, too, that we all have gaps! And, that we should be setting the example and teaching our children how to fill in their gaps!


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