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The Best Homeschool Curriculum

by Kelly Crawford

“If your children know Saxon Math better than the Proverbs, they are not being properly educated.” -Kevin Swanson

And right about here we say, “Yeah, I know…Proverbs….teach them the Bible.  OK so we read the Proverbs but that isn’t going to make them smart or “successful” in the world.”

And we all admit that as Christian homeschoolers, though we understand the theory of a solid, biblical education, we want them to be competitive in the work force, academically savvy, and often we just don’t know what to do or what to teach.

Swanson recounts his wife calling him from home one day.

“I can’t do this (homeschool) anymore.”

“What?!  You can’t just quit!  I’m the executive director of the Home Educators of Colorado!”

“Then YOU come home and do it.”

She relayed her frustrations about coming home from a homeschool vendor exhibit where 300 curriculum vendors claimed to be “the best.”

“If only God could have written a curriculum.” she said.

Kevin answered, “He did.  (And it’s not A Beka.) It’s the Proverbs.”

I don’t believe Swanson is saying that the book of Proverbs is the only curriculum we should use.  I believe he is suggesting that the principles from Proverbs, when studied, learned, internalized and put to practice, will give our children tremendous advantage as students as well as in their life endeavors.  Like sharpening a saw before cutting a tree, the life-principles will put them ahead in all they do.

Some of the wealthiest men in the country were asked the “secret” to their success.  I looked up a few myself.  Answers included:

  • Strong men don’t compromise, it is said, and principles should never be compromised.
  • Work hard–don’t be lazy.
  • Be honest.
  • Don’t borrow money.
  • Find a good wife.
  • Be diligent in your work….pursue excellence.
  • Plan well.
  • Be teachable.

Every answer is straight from Proverbs.

Academics are important only to the extent that we equip them with the character behind it to use their knowledge for the glory of God.

Our homeschool will be more heavily focused on studying Proverbs this year.

How to teach the Proverbs

How do we teach the Proverbs?  Reading them is good, memorizing them is better, but studying them and applying the principles to daily situations is where life-habits are internalized.  This is where  our “motherhood-rubber meets the road”.  Study the traits, study the meaning of the words, give examples to illustrate the principles, then be ready, in every situation at home, to apply them personally.

Are your children speaking unkindly?  It’s not enough to say “Stop that!”  Give them a reference from Proverbs (e.g. “pleasant words are like a honeycomb“).  All motivation for behavior should ultimately come from “Thus says the Lord”.

His ways ARE right and those who follow them will be blessed!  Let’s believe that!

Think Outside the Classroom

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Are you a homeschooling mother who worries that you aren’t “doing enough”? Are you thinking of homeschooling but feel afraid that you aren’t qualified? If so, read more…

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tricia July 25, 2010 - 11:31 pm

Wonderful post. It’s great to get hold of a new perspective when it comes to homeschooling. There are for sure those things that go deeper than math and spelling. Thanks for sharing.

Jamie July 25, 2010 - 11:48 pm

My boys and I memorize a different Bible verse every week. Almost all of our verses are from the book of Proverbs. I told my husband that pretty soon we will have the whole book of Proverbs memorized!:)We also read through Proverbs several times a year. Thanks for writing.

Ginger July 26, 2010 - 12:32 am

I so needed this. We have been doing a Psalm and Proverb of the day for about a year. We’ve been able to memorize a lot of Psalms since we never get past chapter 31. 😉 Because Proverbs has so many life lessons, we only read a portion of each chapter and focus on those verses. The kids have learned a lot of great lessons that stick with them when a problem arises.
But I also really struggle with overemphasizing academics. And I think it honestly has more to do with my pride than the benefits to my children.

Quinn July 26, 2010 - 5:18 am

He has written a study guide to help those interested in doing just exactly this:


And two for the Psalms & one for Genesis.

We own the Psalms ones so far and use them to supplement our family devotions- they’re a wonderful resource!

Melissa Jeffers July 26, 2010 - 7:39 am

So glad this was today’s post! Today is our 1st day “back” to school. We are starting 4th and k5. So excited about our day and one of the 1st things we do is scripture copywork from Proverbs, and our daily reading from Proverbs. =)

Kim M July 26, 2010 - 10:17 am

I agree. 🙂

I also like the book Proverbs for Parenting because it is topical.

Khourt July 26, 2010 - 10:23 am

Proverbs is one of my favourite books in the Scriptures. There are so many lessons to be taught and so much to be learned just from that book alone. I like reading a chapter a day and doubling up on the last day if there arent 31 days. When there are 31 I always get excited to be able to spend an entire day focusing on 31 especially as a woman trying to bring her children up as Godly people.

Kelly L July 26, 2010 - 12:49 pm

Lovely reminders!!!! Thanks!

Kristen July 26, 2010 - 1:05 pm

You mean, A Beka wasn’t written by God? I… I… I need to sit down! lol. I do use a bit of A Beka, btw. Thank you for this post. I’ve been wanting to study Proverbs with my kids for a long time now. I’ve got a bunch written on index cards posted all over my kitchen – especially the ones about holding the tongue, gentle words and self-control.

LuAnnne July 26, 2010 - 5:42 pm

You’re so right on this one Kelly!

I’m reminded of a story that I read once about priorities – large stones are the important things, small stones are the less important. If you fill a jar with the small stones first, there isn’t room for the big ones – but if you first put in the larger stones, the smaller ones will fit down among them.

Proverbs is an excellent curriculum to begin with – we start our day with them – reading them at breakfast each morning, and commit them to memory through copywork and memorization, then discuss where in life you can use this lesson (ironically, the kids can come up with many more places to use God’s lessons, than their math lessons!).

Thanks for the post and the reminder!

Tricia July 26, 2010 - 7:21 pm

When one of my sons hit a reading plateau due to lack of motivation, what lit his fire was our family morning devotions–you guessed it, Proverbs. He wanted his turn, and that’s where he actually became a reader, and it was the King James version (I love it!), and regular, small print. Amazing, what motivation will do!

I realize this isn’t really the point of your post, Kelly, but I thought it’d be fun to share!

Ann July 26, 2010 - 9:27 pm

The little saying that has carried me through our homeschool journey is ‘Christ and Character First, Skills and schooling second’ – I don’t remember where I first read this but it was etched into my mind! I love the book of Proverbs – so many lessons, especially for sons – I often remind myself that Proverbs 31 was written for a man – maybe we should be going through this with our sons at home rather than teaching it at ladies Bible study classes.
You can apply the lessons in Proverbs to so many areas of life, even blogging! As I contemplated whether or not to host a giveaway at my blog I came across this verse ‘And every man is a friend to one who gives gifts’! ch19 v6 part b. This will explain why giveaways attract so many comments! I did do the giveaway because I wanted to bless someone but this verse was in the back of my mind, especially when I found out there are websites which tell you which blogs to visit to find giveaways! Sorry, could not resist sharing that but isn’t this book of the Bible amazing and funny too – I would love to see my son draw pictures or cartoons for some of the verses.
Rick and Marilyn Boyer say that the Proverbs is a ‘gold mine for parents and contains more wisdom that one would learn in the process of acquiring ten PhD’s.’ They offer some great advice on how to use Proverbs in their book ‘Home Educating with Confidence’, their book really helped me when I was fretting over academics!

Rebekah July 26, 2010 - 9:31 pm

Great post! Thank you for the encouragement!

Brooke July 26, 2010 - 9:34 pm

Once again I am refreshed, encouraged and energized by your perspective and as well the comments of others. We have used Proverbs and Psalms for about a year now for copywork morning devotions. I love it. I am interested in hearing more about your journey studying through them though. Thanks again for your faithfulness in keeping this blog. I loved the post the other day and your pictures of your precious children. I also thought your words about your oldest were so special. God’s redemptive power in her life pray will never leave her. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Brooke 🙂

Kim, Mom of 8 July 26, 2010 - 10:36 pm

Thank you for this encouragement.
I have homeschooled since 1992 and have graduated 2 great kids from our homeschool, but I am still in the thick of it. (and will be for at least 20 more years! 🙂
You would think that it would be so easy, but every year and every child is so different. I have been praying lately for God to show me what He wants for us this year. Thank you for this providential message! 🙂

Shelly July 27, 2010 - 11:51 am

Thanks for posting this! We were going to start on Proverbs this year, and this is just confirmation!

Teri July 27, 2010 - 6:56 pm

We’ve spent an entire 3 years on Proverbs. (We’re slow that way.) We might even have a 3:1 ratio of Proverbs to math. What do we have to show for it? 5 AMAZING children who love the Lord and will be prepared for just about any life situation. Math? They will get that when they need it.

Thank you again for the reminder that God’s Word is the best education of all.

Talking About Home Schooling as a Possible Alternative | All About Parenting... July 29, 2010 - 8:59 pm

[…] » The Best Homeschool Curriculum […]

Amy-Cutting Coupons in KC August 13, 2010 - 2:09 pm

Great post!! We had the privlege of hearing Kevin Swanson speak at the CHEF(Christian Home Educators Fellowship)Missouri conference in June. He has a great Proverbs devotional book that we purchased at the conference. I have also ordered several books from his website (http://generationswithvision.com/)

Billy "Trying to Memorize Proverbs" May 13, 2011 - 11:20 pm

I found your blog about proverbs and homeschool curriculum when doing a google search for an iPhone app I recently wrote to help people memorize proverbs.

I’m a parent now, and I see the value of learning the wisdom in proverbs but I sure would have benefited if I’d learned it 20 years ago! Better late then never I guess 🙂

Needles to say, I think memorizing verses from the book of Proverbs is a great way to gain true wisdom. I’ve always had trouble memorizing things and I found a technique where you use the first letter from each word of the scripture you are memorizing as a hint to help you learn faster.

The app I wrote is free this month so just in case others are interested in using it, they can watch a youtube demo of it here






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