Let me start off by making it perfectly clear that we are not a religious family. Our views and beliefs do not line up with any major religion. However, that does not mean that I do not respect other peoples beliefs or that I think that what they believe is wrong. To each his own.
Perhaps I should start this by defining what secular homeschooling is. In my mind, secular homeschooling refers to teaching your child at home without the use of religion-as-truth viewpoint. This doesn’t mean that you can’t study religion from an academic stand point, just that you aren’t teaching math based on Bible Verses or reading the Quran for your history lesson. Pretty simple really.
When we started homeschooling several years ago it never occurred to me that there may be curriculum out there that wasn’t religious. I just assumed after looking at the major publishers that the only thing that was available was Christian based curriculum. I remember looking at Abeka, BJU and Sonlight, among others, and decided to give Sonlight a try because I loved the literature based approach. After all, it wouldn’t hurt anything for my son to hear some Bible stories or learn about the Christian faith. As it turns out, my then 5 year old, was not at all ready for Sonlight’s Core A curriculum. Beyond him not being ready for the academics, the Bible stories didn’t hold his attention and I honestly didn’t feel comfortable reading them from a voice of truth as they are presented. Telling them as stories would have been fine with me, but telling them as if they are truth just doesn’t represent what I believe. This is when I decided that I wanted to homeschool my kids without any type of ‘religion as truth’ influence. This is when I discovered that there are, in fact, many other secular homeschoolers out there.
It seems, in my experience, that people assume that you homeschool for religious reasons. Perhaps the majority of homeschoolers do, but I can tell you that there are an awful lot that do not. I’ve even met some secular homeschoolers who are in fact Christian but do not feel like their child’s whole education needs to be entwined with what they believe.
Since I first discovered secular homeschooling we have still used Christian based curriculum including Classical Conversations, Memoria Press and another go with Sonlight’s Core A. Both Sonlight and MP were beautiful curricula and my son loved doing Core A last year. I was able to leave out the religious parts without any major problems. Classical Conversations didn’t really work out for us as we just didn’t fit well into the community and EVERYTHING they do has a religious spin to it. While the idea behind it is really neat, in practice it wasn’t for us. In all honesty, we gave CC a try simply to find a group to participate in. We live in Texas and pretty much every homeschool co-op or group around us requires that you sign a statement of faith. I am not comfortable lying and I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t really fit into the groups anyway since we are not Christians.
In my opinion, secular homeschooling does not mean that we ignore religion like it doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean that someone who is religious can’t secularly homeschool their children. It’s not about what you believe, but what and how you teach. You can teach your kids about religion from an academic standpoint rather than one of truth which is what we are choosing to do, but I’ll talk more about how we do that another day.
If you are looking for secular homeschool curriculum, I’d suggest taking a look at the companies listed below. The list isn’t long right now, but I will work on expanding it over time.
- Bookshark – This company is owned by the same company who owns Sonlight so their science is neutral rather than secular.
- Build Your Library – Literature based curriclum for grade K-9 along with unit studies
- Pandia Press – science and history curriculum
- All About Learning Press – Reading and Spelling curriculum
- Oak Meadow – Online & at home for k-12
- Timberdoodle – Secular options for k-8
If you have a favorite secular resource you’d like for me add to the list, please leave a comment below.