As any homeschooling family can probably attest, it's completely natural for a homeschool to change from one year to the next, maybe even from one month to the next, as schedules change and curricula is modified. But there is a different kind of change that can happen in a homeschool, the kind where you lose your religion. How does one attempt to make a smooth transition from a Christian homeschool to a secular one in the middle of a school year, and can it be done sans drama? The simple answer to this question is yes. However, there are some caveats. Realizing that you've devoted your life to a false narrative is a humbling experience. Talking to your children about this takes it to an other level. Remember, humility is a good thing!
I should probably give you a little background regarding the type of materials we were using in our homeschool and why it was necessary to basically implement an overhaul of our curricula. Ambleside Online, which utilizes Charlotte Mason's educational philosophies, was our main spine and guide. Daily Bible reading and scriptural copywork were a routine part of our school day. Many of our read-alouds, spanning from history to science, were religious in nature, as well. I share this only to convey that a simple elimination of certain subjects would not have gone unnoticed by my girls. Although, they probably would have been delighted to have their school day parsed down to almost nothing. Needless to say, there was no way that I could in good conscience continue to allow most of these materials to be a part of our homeschool, presented as Truth. Thus, a long, heartfelt conversation ensued.
I can remember the exact moment in our homeschool that I revealed to my children many of the doubts that I was experiencing. We were reading a Child's History of the World as part of our history when we came to the story about the Children's Crusade of 1212. Here, we learned the travesty of Christianity's influence on both children and their parents. These unfortunate kids were deluded into thinking that they should join the fight to remove the Muslims from Jerusalem. Starting from France, they believed that the Mediterranean Sea would part and allow passage to Jerusalem, as the Red Sea had done for the Israelites leaving Egypt. Of course, this never happened. Rather, pirates promising a safe journey to the Holy Land took them directly to their enemies to be sold as slaves. I asked my girls what they thought of this story, and they replied that the parents were crazy to let their kids do such a thing. As I started to fully agree with their assessment, a rather chilling revelation popped into my head. As a Christian, had I really been any better? What kind of foolish acts would I have done or allowed my children to do in the name of Christianity? That is a sick feeling.
I'm convinced that children can appreciate any situation where the parent has to admit that he or she has made a mistake and is sorry. That is exactly what I had to do. I shared all of my doubts with them, all of the questions. I apologized for misleading them, regardless of my intentions at the time. More importantly, they shared their doubts and uncertainties too. It profoundly strengthened our relationship, as the lines of communication were now open and unhindered.
So, that was the evolution of our homeschool, in terms of the heart. Coming up in Part Two, I'll share the practical steps I took to convert our homeschool into a secular one, albeit in the middle of the year. I'll just offer some final words of encouragement. Be brave, and share your heart with your kids, because it is so worth it. It is such a joy to know that the minds of my girls are free, free to question everything (including me), free to think critically, and free from the shackles of religion!