Not everything that is recommended by content creators is the best. When making homeschooling decisions, we need to beware of homeschool hype.
The free-market system works. It’s the most natural system, and it is assumed in the Bible. Competition is a good thing, as long as it operates within Biblical ethics (such as the Golden Rule). (For more on this read the book Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards.)
However, within a free market, it is the responsibility of the buyer to do the research necessary to make the best purchasing decisions.
Purchasing homeschooling products is not any different. It is the responsibility of us, the parents, to do our due diligence so we are not throwing away our money on products and services that do not live up to their promises.
Within this context, advertising can be both good and bad.
On the one hand, it alerts us to products we may not have known about otherwise.
On the other hand, mediocre products, services, and ideas can be hyped-up so that their quality and worth are exaggerated.
An example of this is curriculum that is suggested by content creators and influencers.
I like watching review videos, especially for products I am interested in. I am actually quite thankful for the ladies who take the time to post pictures and flip-throughs of books that I need more information on.
Still, I have to keep these things in mind as I watch:
- Oftentimes a creator will receive free product or be doing sponsored content, so she will be feeling OBLIGATED to say more flattering things than if she made the purchase on her own (my husband and I do a lot of reviews, so we understand this natural tendency).
- Promoted content is usually posted before a product has been adequately tested. Sometimes a company will send out a product and there is pressure to get that review out by a certain date. This is usually not enough time to determine if a book or a program really works. You can’t fake experience.
- A lot of larger, mainstream publishers with advertising budgets have an institutional mindset. Their materials are based on the conventional school model, and when we use these materials we find we move out and away from the heart of homeschooling.
“If all this is true, just how are we supposed to know what to trust?” I hear you saying…
The first step is to:
The first books you want to buy are books that will help you build a paradigm that answers these two questions:
- Why do we teach children.
- How do we teach children.
The WHY and the HOW will affect every other decision you make.
While the kids are happily playing and exploring outside, take some time to read and develop your own opinion (along with your husband) on the way learning should work.
Here are some books that will help (these are the classics which are foundational to homeschooling–affiliate links):
Dumbing Us Down (and others), John Taylor Gatto
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Dr. Raymond Moore
A Biblical Home Education: Building Your Homeschool on the Foundation of God’s Word (and others), Ruth Beechick
A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola
For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Homeschool Sanity: A Practical Guide to Redemptive Home Educating, Sherry Hayes (Yours Truly)
If you take the time and money necessary to build a solid foundation, you won’t be easily swayed by “hype.” When you go through catalogs and web sites you will be able to skip the cotton candy and go directly for the meat and potatoes.
The knowledge you gain will enable you to CONFIDENTLY create a learning program for your children.
Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds impulsiveness, which in turn leads to waste, frustration, and failure.
Knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence breeds sound decisions, thrift, success, and peace.
If you are interested in hearing more, you might want to watch my video on the subject (we are going to be doing a series on Homeschool Sanity, Lord willing):