It's that time of year - the time when the homeschooling blogosphere is filled with everyone sharing curriculum choices for the coming school year.
If reading curriculum round-up posts makes you feel nervous, anxious, inadequate, and completely overwhelmed, don't worry. You're not alone. We all feel like that. However, I have noticed that the feeling of panic gets less and less each year, and I have almost arrived at the point at which I can read one of these posts without feeling like an inadequate failure who should have picked the same things as the person posting.
It's a learning journey.
My own journey has been somewhat impeded this year by the arrival of our newest little one. Remember the huge to-do list I had for this summer break? Guess how much of it got done. That's right, none of it. It was washed away in a huge swamping attack of all-day morning sickness, and I am barely going to be ready to start this school year, let alone do something crazy like file last year's papers. (Ack.)
With that in mind, some of my fancier plans have gone by the wayside. That's probably a good thing. I really tend to over-think things when given the chance. Perhaps this is God's way of not giving me that chance!
Two of my big plans for the summer were planning for two new subjects to start this fall - Spanish and piano. I'm now prepared for neither, so I'm guessing neither is going to happen. That's okay. Maybe later.
Some things have also fallen by the wayside naturally this year, and again, that's a good thing. I really do over-think things and make them too complicated. Thus, subjects that we are no longer covering (or covering formally) now include:
- Hymn Study - This one never got off the ground, but I have made the decision to formally shelve it. We sing hymns. That's good enough, for crying out loud.
- Nature Study - Formal nature study (that is, planned nature walks and nature notebooking) has gone bye-bye. It was one big headache. Instead, we provide lots of nature guides, lots of outdoor time, and as many field trips to local outdoor places as we can.
- Notebooking - Shelved, either permanently or until 3rd or 4th grade. Time will tell.
- Composer Studies - Um... yeah. Another thing on my to-do list. I think NOT. (We play lots of good music at the house, and the kids will be studying piano. Enough is enough.)
- Latin - The last thing we need is yet another academic subject with more worksheets with which to torture our son. It sounded good... but no.
The moral of the story is that I am learning to simplify. If I add all of the bells and whistles, I won't make it out alive - and that is, after all, one of my main end-goals. I do not want to drive either myself or my children into the ground. Additionally, one of the main points of home education is to provide the larger blocks of free time that children need to pursue their own interests and be children instead of being driven into the ground by endless busywork.
My new goal: Keep it simple.
We currently have only one student, age eight, going into second grade. Though he is extremely bright and mechanically brilliant, he is not in favor of book work or writing (most boys aren't), and I expect that my choices and philosophy are shaped by those factors. Having differently minded students in the future will most likely add a whole new dimension to our school!
I should note that each of the above-mentioned subjects is a very worthy area of study! I am not trying to denigrate them in any way, and should any of you choose to include them in your home education program, I'll be thrilled. These are just things that haven't worked out for us - but they may be a perfect fit for someone else.
With that in mind, here are our curriculum choices for the coming year.
2014-2015 Curriculum Choices
- Family Time - Covers Bible, Bible memory, catechism, time, calendar, weather, family rules, manners, personal safety skills, and poetry reading.
- Math - Yes, we changed our minds! Christian Light Education.
- Reading - Our 7yo is now reading fluently, so we just do daily read-aloud practice from our books at home. He no longer needs our phonics program.
- Language Arts - Copywork. Formal language arts will begin next year.
- Art - Using Ambleside Online Picture Study schedule, very informally. (Also crafts to go with Galloping the Globe.)
- Science, Geography, History/Culture, Literature - Galloping the Globe (my review here), plus one extra science experiment per week. We also add lots of outside time, plenty of field guides (kids love these!), and supplemental science material via library books. We hope also to pick up some fun science texts for the kids to use at their leisure (which, oddly enough... they do!)
- Field Trips - An average of one per week, coming from our family activities or either of our homeschooling groups. Additionally, park days and play dates with those two groups.
We have been slow to get started in this area.
Firstly, because Americans tend to really overdo extracurriculars. We've all seen this path, and it's ugly. We really don't want to go the route of the over-stretched, over-committed American family.
Secondly, extracurriculars are usually very pricey. Yikes.
Thirdly, I do not do well with a busy away-from-home schedule.
And fourthly, with a larger family, overdone extracurriculars can really kill both school time and family time.
All that being said, we want to ease into any extracurriculars slowly and with much consideration. We don't want to do things just for the sake of doing things (via the American parenting guilt factor). We want to add extras only when they have a sure value for our family and the child involved. We have had weekly commitments before, and even those stretched our family. Trying to eat dinner in a mad rush, throw all the kids in the car, rush out the door into rush-hour traffic, and then back late at night with cranky kids and a seriously screwed-up schedule. Not a ton of fun. Thus, we're going to tread lightly in this area. Unless something really special comes up, we'll be limiting extracurriculars to field trips and outings with our homeschool groups.
Here are the subjects that we will be adding next year in third grade:
- Language Arts - Using Learning Language Arts Through Literature or Christian Light.
- Spelling - Included in LLATL, or we may try Rod and Staff spelling or Sequential Spelling. Not sure yet.
- Typing - Possibly. I hope to look at the new typing program from Handwriting Without Tears at this year's convention.
- Spanish and Piano - If we don't get there this year.
As you may see here, I am no longer a passionate devotee of Charlotte Mason. Nor am I enamored with any other particular style of home education. I am in favor of doing what works and what doesn't bog down our home. Keeping it simple, and using what works - that's my new way of doing things. Thankfully I have many wonderful friends and mentors upon whose advice I rely greatly, and there's always someone to ask for advice and direction when I'm floundering.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Bring 'em on!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Bring 'em on!