Pages Navigation Menu

The Most Important Ingredient In Homeschool Curriculum Buying

I’ve heard it on the news, read it on the internet, and seen its truth with my own eyes: This generation of young people is the first in the history of our country to be worse off than their parents. Three important culprits are disease, debt, and despair. And it’s no coincidence children aren’t faring as well as they used to with an increasing number of moms—between 60 and 70 percent—working outside the home.

Sometimes we, as homeschool mothers, don’t realize just how crucial our work is. As you’re preparing for a new homeschool year, rejoice that you’re working to raise happy, healthy, hopeful children who will be lights for Christ in a world that is becoming increasingly dark and difficult for young people.

Disease and Life Expectancy

For the first time in U.S. history, children have shorter life expectancies than their parents. Why? Primarily, it’s due to the escalation of diseases among children and teens, many of which are self-inflicted. Childhood obesity is now an epidemic, and because of it children are experiencing diseases—like heart disease and type 2 diabetes—once confined to people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also wreaking havoc on this generation. I spoke recently with Kevin Caiello, a homeschool dad and former director of an abstinence organization targeting teens. Kevin shared some very troubling statistics with me. Thirty years ago there were only two significant STDs, gonorrhea and syphilis. Both of these were bacterial and could be treated with penicillin. Today there are between twenty-five and thirty known STDs, with multiple subcategories and strains. Now there’s a whole category of viral STDs that cannot be treated with antibiotics and, in effect, have become a life sentence.

Kevin spoke of one meta study that compiled a number of studies dealing with the attitudes of teens toward premarital sex. Fifty years ago, just 12 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys thought premarital sex was “okay.” Today, that number has escalated to include 72 percent of teenage girls and 80 percent of teenage boys.1 Such attitudes have tragic consequences. In 2005, ten thousand U.S. teens acquired a new STD—every day.2 And we haven’t even touched on the tragic aspects of AIDS, teen pregnancy, and abortion.


My father attended law school on the GI Bill after serving as a naval officer in World War II. At one time he was concerned about how he and my mom would make it financially because there were no student loans. Yet he graduated, as most of his colleagues did, with no debt.

How things have changed! In an article titled “The Indentured Generation: How Debt Stunts Young People’s Dreams,” author Garance Franke-Ruta makes the following statement:

Whereas they once started their adult financial lives with an eye to the future, today’s graduates emerge from college weighed down by the burden of just getting to square one. . . . While society urges the young to save and invest in the future, the new structural realities—rising tuition, declining federal aid, high college debt, overly easy credit-card access, low salaries and high housing costs—combine to make young people net debtors, not net savers.3

To put it simply, many young couples are entering marriage with enough debt to constitute a sizeable mortgage payment.

Despair and Hopelessness

It is no wonder that young people are more depressed than ever. They’re sick, they’re embracing sexual activity outside of marriage, and they’re in debt. They feel hopeless. According to an article in The Journal of Newcastle, England, “In spite of the fact that we are a more affluent society, there has been a 70 percent rise in teenage depression since the mid-eighties, with six million prescriptions for antidepressants being written for children each year. In addition, the suicide rate among young people is three times higher than it was twenty years ago, with children as young as five being treated for self-harming.”4

I can’t imagine the statistics here in the United States are much, if any, better.

Now for the Good News

Simply put, children need their mothers. They need a parent who will prepare healthy meals and send them outside to exercise and to play. They need a parent who is home to monitor behavior and enforce good morals to build character. When teenagers return to empty homes in the afternoons, they face temptations that the simple presence of an adult can mitigate. They need parents, not media, to teach them right and wrong. They need parents to teach them how to handle finances responsibly. They need parents to share with them the Good News of the gospel.

The Bible tells us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7, NASB).

This passage implies that parents are their children’s constant, faithful companions. By being home and involved in the lives of your children, you are acting as an ambassador of Christ to them. You are able to constantly demonstrate to them through word and deed who Christ is and what He has done for them.

If you want happy children, teach them about Christ. If you want children who know how to work through problems in a healthy way (because no human being will ever be problem-free in this life), teach them the principles of Scripture.

We have good news to share with our children in the midst of a hopeless society. Take every opportunity to teach them God’s Word. Second Chronicles 13:18 (HCSB) simply and very powerfully reminds us “the Judahites succeeded because they depended on the Lord.”

Guide Them to Jesus

Preparing for a new school year can be exciting and a little overwhelming. Just remember this: You are the most important ingredient in the homeschool curriculum equation—your presence, your conversation, your optimism, your encouragement, and most importantly, your freedom and availability to lead them constantly to the One who is the Great Physician, the Perfect Provider, and the Wonderful Counselor.

If you enjoyed this article by Zan Tyler, check out her article Can We Prepare for Standardized Tests?
tyler-zan-229x300Zan Tyler is director of Apologia Press. Her life as a speaker, writer, and homeschooling advocate began thirty years ago when, as a homeschooling mother, she was threatened with jail by the South Carolina state superintendent of education. Zan founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990 and served as its president for ten years. She has been honored as the South Carolina Homemaker of the Year and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show. In addition to her book 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, she has written for numerous academic journals and homeschool magazines such as HSLDA’s Court Report.






Sometimes we, as homeschool mothers, don’t realize just how crucial our work is. So, what is the most important ingredient when we go to purchase homeschool curriculum?





1. Wells, Brooke E.; Twenge, Jean M. “Changes in Young People’s Sexual Behavior and Attitudes, 1943-1999: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis.” Review of General Psychology; 9(3), Sep 2005, 249-261.

2. Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W. “Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004; 36(1):6-10.

3. Garance Franke-Ruta, “The Indentured Generation: How Debt Stunts Young People’s Dreams,” The American Prospect, May 2003, Questia, 26 July 2007,

4. “Too Many Young Being Left Behind,” The Journal (Newcastle, England), 3 May 2005: 15,Questia, 26 July 2007,


468 ad