I have always been a big proponent of homeschooling using free Internet resources: audios, ebooks/.PDFs, YouTube videos, printables, and Web sites of all kinds. If you want to give your kids a well-rounded education, you can do it practically for free if you have a good Internet connection, a printer, and some free time to surf.
Here in Kenya, we no longer have an “unlimited” monthly Internet service. It’s pay-as-you-go, per MB of upload/download, and on a “missionary’s budget,” we’re pretty careful about our online time. Not only that, but the connection is hit-or-miss, and pretty slow as a rule, so it’s very rare that we are able to watch videos. We also don’t have a printer (due to having no electricity, only minimal solar), so all of those readily-available printables are no longer part of our daily routines.
The past two years that we’ve been here in Kenya, part of the adjustment has been learning to homeschool without all of these wonderful online supplements. While I won’t say that I went through “withdrawals,” the process has not been without an occasional twinge of regret, moment of frustration, or passing doubt about the quality of our children’s education. We did bring a small “library” of books here to Kenya, but is it adequate? Are we doing enough with the minimal resources at our disposal?
Our homeschooling has become rather “bare bones.” We have math curricula for all the children, and a pretty set daily routine for language arts. Other than that, a lot of the educational process now depends on the books we have on the shelf. Of course, there are probably going to be some “gaps” here and there as a result, but I’m realizing that maybe it’s not all that important. My kids are learning about a whole new culture, geography, and language–great homeschooling in itself. They are learning to love and serve people in a way that they had not been able to in America, which is discipleship at its best (the primary reason why we are homeschooling in the first place). And, due to the increase in manual labor that we’ve experienced here, everyone is learning to roll up their sleeves and participate in meaningful and productive labor. Of course, this is something that we trained and encouraged in America, but it’s been taken to a whole new level here.
So there have been some trade-offs in our educational process these past two years. Less emphasis on technology and academics and more emphasis on life-skills and character building. No matter how different your circumstances are from mine, I think the homeschooling process is like that for all of us: different emphases in different seasons of life, inevitable shifts in skill development and academics. It is comforting for me to know that God knows this season of our life; He has plans for our future; and He certainly holds everything in His hands. Jesus said, for good reason, “‘Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own'” (Matthew 6:34).
Though it is good to have a long-term vision for your homeschooling and a broad view of the skills and learning that you want your children to accomplish over all, don’t get so hung up on it that you worry too much about “tomorrow.” Keep in mind not just your goals for homeschooling (or the world’s expectations for education), but the Lord’s purposes for this time in your children’s lives. Enjoy each day, do what you are able with the resources at your disposal, and trust God that His will can be accomplished through your efforts.