Whether you have very young children and are considering homeschooling as an option, or you are well on your way in your homeschooling adventure, there are curriculum options beyond the Young Earth Creationist position. Here's some thoughts and resources for homeschooling from the Evolutionary Creation perspective:
Homeschooling is a wonderful educational option that allows parents to tailor their child’s education according to their needs and interests. In the past homeschooling was dominated by conservative Christian groups, so homeschool resources and curricula tended to present an exclusively Young Earth Creationist (YEC) perspective on the Bible and science. Many major homeschool conventions and book fairs were run by groups or individuals with YEC convictions, and they welcomed vendors and presenters who shared their perspective. Parents looking for something specifically designed to meet the needs of the homeschool classroom, but without YEC content, could not find much on the market, and many parents have contacted BioLogos requesting information or resources to help them teach their children science from an evolutionary creationist (EC) perspective. Whether you have very young children and are considering homeschooling as an option, or you are well on your way in your homeschooling adventure but need some fresh ideas, the following is an attempt to orient parents to the EC-friendly options available and answer some frequently asked questions.
Is there an Evolutionary Creation homeschool curriculum?
The short answer is “not yet.” BioLogos has compiled a page of recommended resources for educators, and is currently developing BioLogos INTEGRATE, a resource for parents and Christian school teachers who want to supplement a high school biology course with explicitly Christian worldview instruction from an EC perspective. The development team anticipates it will be commercially available in 2020. If you would like to receive periodic updates about INTEGRATE or join the pilot program, please sign up.
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that EC is a perspective on God’s creation, not an alternative scientific model. Because EC accepts mainstream scientific consensus on the age of the earth and the evolutionary model of the diversity of life, there is no real need to rewrite existing science materials. Many EC parents are comfortable using quality secular science resources aimed at children and incorporating their theological perspective into their instruction when appropriate. A parent may occasionally want to comment on atheistic or naturalistic worldviews they notice in these resources, but most science books for children are not written in a way that unnecessarily pits faith against science. As they study nature and the Bible together, parents can feel free to introduce their children to the theological ideas of EC in an age appropriate way.
How do I find homeschool science materials that aren’t anti-evolution?
The good news is that the homeschool science landscape has changed some in recent years as homeschooling has gained momentum outside conservative Christian circles. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2016 there were approximately 1.7 million children being homeschooled in the U.S. Articles in Business Insider and The Atlantic testify to the growing popularity of homeschooling among people who are not religious, a group that now makes up about 1/3 of the total homeschoolers. Also, some Christian homeschoolers have become more vocal about their desire for materials that are not YEC or anti-evolution.
In light of the changing market, some Christian homeschool resource providers have taken a more inclusive approach, even if they do not fully endorse the EC view.
- The Christian curriculum provider Sonlight has instructor guides that highlight three Christian perspectives on origins (YEC, Old Earth Creation, and Theistic Evolution), and they encourage parents to teach according to their convictions. Their elementary school science packages typically include mostly books published by mainstream science education publishers with a small selection of YEC and ID books and videos for “balance.” It is fairly easy for an EC parent to identify which books they may not want to include.
- The Well Trained Mind discussion forum offers plenty of advice from users about how to follow Jessie Bauer and Susan Wise Bauer’s popular classical education homeschooling model using resources that are not YEC or anti-evolution.
- The textbook company Novare publishes explicitly Christian textbooks that do not present a YEC perspective. They offer junior high and high school level textbooks in earth science, chemistry, and physics. A forthcoming Novare biology textbook plans to cover the scientific consensus on evolution.
- Christian Schools International publishes Christian science textbooks that do not attempt to discredit evolutionary theory.
- Wilson Hill Academy, which provides online classes from a Christian classical perspective, uses mainstream science textbooks for biology courses, as does the Roman Catholic curriculum and online class provider Kolbe Academy.
In recent years, more science curricula for non-religious homeschoolers has also become available, and these may be good choices for an EC parent. It is often easier to infuse a Christian perspective into a non-religious program than it is to weed out the errors and misrepresentations that are typical in Christian YEC or anti-evolution resources. Also, many EC parents find that origins-related topics like the image of God, the Fall, and the interpretation of Scripture are best addressed in their own right, not included in a science book with the presumption that the Bible is a source of scientific knowledge.
- Elemental Science, REAL Science Odyssey, and Bookshark offer non-religious curricula designed for homeschoolers, and they make use of science books by secular publishers.
- Some companies, such as Real Science 4 Kids, produce “faith neutral” materials designed for use in Christian or secular contexts. These are written by Christians who avoid presenting information about evolution or an ancient earth, especially in elementary years. Parents who want their children to learn about these aspects of science from a young age therefore need to provide supplemental material.
As you research curriculum choices, it is a good idea to spend some time on homeschooling forums or Facebook groups where you can ask other parents who use the curriculum you are interested in about their experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask how adaptable it would be for people who do not subscribe to a YEC or anti-evolution perspective or to inquire directly about what topics are covered or left out in different courses. You will probably not be the first parent who has asked those kinds of questions.
What if my co-op or homeschooling group picks the curriculum?
Sometimes decisions about what books you use are justifiably motivated by social factors. If you join your church’s homeschooling group or participate in a co-op such as Classical Conversations, they may dictate your curriculum choices to a certain extent. In that case you may find yourself using materials that present anti-evolution or YEC perspectives on a regular basis. It is largely a matter of personal preference or conviction how a person chooses to deal with this kind of situation, and often it involves taking into consideration how people in your community would be likely to respond.1 Some parents opt out of certain components of the co-op program. Some choose to teach supplemental materials at home that challenge and correct the perspectives presented in the textbooks and co-op classes. Some invite their community to explore other origins perspectives by hosting a book club or offering to teach some lessons about the EC view at the co-op.
The BioLogos Homeschool Forum provides support for parents navigating these kind of complex homeschooling community issues, and there you can find or start discussions about the issues brought up by specific books, materials, and learning situations. The Forum is a great place to visit to find support, so that no matter which homeschooling path you choose as an EC parent, you will not feel alone on the journey.
Introducing your children to God’s creation and walking alongside them as they explore its mysteries, wonders, and complexities in their science studies is one of the great joys of homeschooling. BioLogos wants to help you become the best science teacher you can be in the years ahead. Please don’t hesitate to contact BioLogos if you have further questions about introducing your children to evolutionary creationism.