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Updated: Jul 6, 2021

While I'm thankful to be living during a time when there is no shortage of homeschool resources out there, it can be overwhelming to decide what materials to use and what topics to study. Should we learn Latin? Should we do cursive? How in-depth should a particular science topic be explored? Is that book a must read? For a while, I found myself lost in the never ending world of choices. But then I started making choices based on these three questions, and I want to share them with you.

1. Will it be useful?

There are three skills I believe are useful for everyone: reading, writing, and math. Every homeschool should devote time and energy to these three subjects.

In the early years, those three subjects are the main focus of your child's studies, and the rest of the day can be spent exploring topics determined by answering the other two questions. Think of the early years as a buffet- offering up an array of choices to help your child discover his or her passions. Beyond the basics, the subjects that will be "useful" will become more clear as your child explores and experiments during those first several years.

As children get older, the question of usefulness will be determined by your child's unique skills and interests. If your child shows an interest in a particular science or has a knack for public speaking, you will want to choose materials geared towards those interests and abilities that will lead to success in their future career choices.

2. Will it build character?

For us, homeschooling encompasses so much more than just book knowledge. It's about building character and raising strong, compassionate, critical thinkers who use their knowledge and skills to make the world a better place. I have found several topics for us that help us achieve this goal, even though they may not seem educational in the traditional sense (ex. volunteer work, life skills, and current event studies).

3. Will it spark joy?

This last question helps cater your child's education to their unique interests. Once you've determined the subject areas that are most useful and build character, choose additional subjects based on what THEY want to learn. I'm a firm believer that life's too short to memorize the life-cycle of a butterfly if you'd rather be exploring the inner-workings of a rocket. Pursuing their passions should be a top priority.


Asking these three questions has helped us prioritize certain studies win our home, and it helps us manage our time accordingly. The subjects that build character or spark joy may even change from year to year, but by answering these three questions, we avoid the pitfalls of overload and burnout, and we discover the joy of learning!

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