Thursday, February 3, 2011

Secular Thursday

I am a secular homeschooler. That being said, religion is all over our homeschool - we discuss all different religions, non-religions, points of view, etc. This happens when we do history, literature, social studies, poetry, art, and so on. This week we've been reading myths the book An Illustrated Treasury of Read-Aloud Myths and Legends. I don't have a separate subject called "religion."  But I still thought we covered it pretty well.

Until last night when my 6-year-old came to me with her bedtime reading and needed help with a few words. She is reading a biography of Sojourner Truth and came to the words "Methodist" and "religion." She could read Methodist, but had no idea what it meant. Not surprising. I told her it was a type of Christian. She raised and eyebrow and said, "Oh. Which gods do those Christians believe in again?"

Yikes. Okay, okay. She is six and we have been reading a LOT of mythology. No biggie. I reminded her they believe in one god. To which she replied, "Oooohhh! Okay - like the Jewish people." Good girl! She remembered.

Then she goes, "What is that word again?" (pointing to "religion"). "Religion," I answer. She then says, to my disbelief, "Hmmm. What is religion? What is that"


Doesn't this come up in our house all the time? Oh boy. I feel like we talk about religion, religious views, religious beliefs and such every day. For Pete's sake we go to a UU fellowship and I know that R.E. covers many, many religions because I am one of the teachers!  I felt a bit of relief that she didn't ask me this question in front of the moms at our next homeschool event (although it almost would have been worth it for the reactions). 

Obviously I didn't say any of this to her. I answered her question and she went on her way. And then I thought about it: (A) she is six; (B) "religion" is a big concept and a strange word; (C) learning about religion doesn't mean learning the word religion; and (D) I know many adults that I'm pretty sure don't understand what religion is - they believe it means Christian.

Than again, maybe we're just more secular than I realized...


  1. haha! that's better than the time my then-6 year old was at his catholic grandmother's house and asked who that man in the painting was... he didn't even know what the standard depiction of Jesus looked like... boy did I get in trouble for that... they even sent him an illustrated bible.

    btw, hello! here I am looking for other secular homeschoolers (because I'm feeling like the only one in my area) and found you and your great blog - thanks!

  2. Hi Pam - too funny!! I can just imagine that. ;) I know how it is to feel like the only secular homeschooler in the sea. Thank goodness for the internet!

    Um, WOW - I looked at your site - your work is absolutely gorgeous! I dream of making things as beautiful. I think I may be your next customer! =) And you live in my dream location (Pacific Northwest). Sigh.

  3. Oh thank you!! I don't get enough time to make my art... it's the other big challenge for me these days...

  4. I get questioned a lot by my daughter (9). We're similar in that we've covered religions more as an academic than anything else. Both sides of the family is heavily religious which can make things uncomfortable at times.

    We wanted to make sure she knew how we felt about things and pointed out that religious stories, myths, legends are all a part of the same category. They are a part of history and how it was explained at that time. It isn't important that we believe all the details but it is important to understand how people felt about things then and try to see where human's have come from intellectually.

    When she was younger I would get a lot of questions after visiting family. They felt like she "needed" to know things that we weren't teaching her. Well, to be honest, they still do but at least now I don't worry so much about them making her afraid that something was wrong because mom and dad didn't believe that way. So, I decided she needed to have a good sense of things so when people told her their view (religion not being the only topic) of things she had a good base knowledge and could decide for herself what she believed or didn't.

    I so enjoy reading all of these forums and blogs. Wish I had more time to do it, but wanted to say it gives me comfort to know we aren't the only ones out there. So when my daughter is grown there will be like minds out there for her to connect with. Thanks again!