Now that I have my brain (mostly) back, my mind has, over the past week or two, turned to the issue of homeschool curriculum choices. And to my dismay, I find that I am now having doubts about the selection that I have happily had in mind for the past year or more.
Great timing, considering that I should already have ordered and should be starting in the next week or so!!
My original selection is an award-winning package curriculum that is a "real books" curriculum - for literature, language arts and history, it relies almost exclusively upon real books - that is, books from or based on the time being studied - rather than textbooks.
I find this approach immensely sensible. When I look back over my academic career, I remember almost nothing of the history that I learned from textbooks. Zilch, zero, nada. But I can still remember vivid details of history that I learned from, say, Laura Ingals Wilder books, or Jane Austen, or other period literature. That sort of thing sticks. Textbooks don't, for the most part.
So I love that part about it. No doubts as to the quality or the approach.
My nagging concern about this program is the time required to implement it. It starts out with a couple of hour a day for kindergarten and skyrockets from there. And while some people might be okay with that, I have always believed that one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that one can obtain a top-notch education without spending all day doing school. After all, most (or much) time spent in public/private school is often wasted time - sitting and waiting, passing papers out or in, passing period, breaks, etc. It really is possible to get pure academics done in a short amount of time and then leave the rest of a homeschool family's time for "life" things - baking cookies together, going on trips, playing, going to the library, etc. etc. etc. - that's one of the main reasons for homeschooling!
So the thought of having a time-intensive program does worry me, especially as one can expect the time required to mount exponentially when one adds more than one child into the mix.
And then there's the question of whether or not young children even need a formal curriculum. There's a lot of comfort in a prepackaged curriculum, but a lot of my veteran homeschooling friends maintain that young children need only some very basic academics (math and phonics) and then learn the rest of what they need from an active family life that includes tons of activities and trips and other mind-stimulating stuff. And I do concur on that "life" part - kids learn SO much from just being exposed to activities and places.
A dear friend of mine (who has produced two utterly amazing sons, one a geologist and the other a seminarian) maintains that all one needs in order to homeschool young children is a math curriculum and a library card. Considering the results that she has produced, I'm definitely not going to argue with her!
So I'm thinking of just starting this year with a math book and a phonics program, and focusing on filling the rest of our time with fun stuff that's also good for learning - reading aloud, cooking, baking, board games, trips, MOMS Club activities, local events, library, parks, etc. - and then seeing where we go from there.
But I'm not sure.
Homeschooling mamas out there, I would love to hear from you your opinions!!
Thanks for listening to my rant!!