I get this question so often and without any supporting information that I thought I’d post an analogy.
A woman rushes into a large shoe store, one with a zillion shoes for men, women and children, corrals a sales clerk, and demands to be shown the best shoes they have.
The clerk tries to narrow down her choices, but she will have none of it. Who are the shoes for? What activity does she intend the shoes to be used for? What size is needed? Are they for herself or someone else? What style, brand and color do they prefer?
“I just want your very best shoes, in the size that is the most popular,” she insists.
The clerk points out a high heeled, alligator skin, pair of women’s boots, size 6, made by a noted fashion designer. The boots are expensive, but the woman did ask for the best!
“Would you like to try them on?” The clerk inquires.
“Oh, these aren’t for me,” she explains. “They are for my daughter.”
“I could set them aside, and you could bring her in,” the clerk suggested. “We have a $25 restocking fee if they are returned, and if scuffed, we won’t take them back at all.”
Unfazed, the woman pulls out her credit card and buys the boots. No shoes too pricey for HER child!
She takes her prized bag, and goes out into the mall, contacting her husband and daughter with her cell phone. They are at the big bookseller at the north end. “Meet you here!”
By the time she gets there, Dad and daughter are at the cash register, paying for their selection. There is a certain gleam in their eyes.
“Mom!” the girl explains, “Look what dad and I are going to do!”
She displays their selection: a bunch of garden books and information about organic gardening, and several piece of literature with titles like “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”
“We’re going to build a garden shed and some raised beds for organic vegetables. I promised I’d eat them if I grew them! Dad’s and I are going to learn how to grow our own food. He already knows how to build things, so he’s going to teach me to use real tools. We’ll use math to make it all fit together perfectly. All these books, with our homeschool discount, only costs us $75, too. Not bad! What did you get?”
“I got you the best shoes that money could buy!” Mom said as she pulls out the designer boots.
The disappointment on the daughter’s and father’s faces was evident. These boots were not going to last 10 minutes in the garden, even if she could have fit in them. And the price was far more than the family could really afford.
Mom realized her mistake at not fitting the shoe to her child, and what she needed shoes for. They went back to the shoe store, returned the fashion boots, and got some rubber clogs that would work for gardening.
Shopping for the “best” curriculum is a lot like this family’s story. The best is what is best for your child, and all your interests and hobbies and budget. Take time to learn what is best for your child, and don’t rely on others to determine what is “the best in the world.” It still may not be right for your child.
By Ann Zeise