Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stop the (Homeschool Curriculum Planning) Insanity!

I am in the middle of choosing our family's history curriculum, and I am really cracking myself up over here.

It's crazy.

I am decidedly bipolar when it comes to history curriculum. One part of my brain loves the unstructured, free-reading, narration-style, Charlotte Mason-y type of unit study that joins the family together and revels in enjoying and exploring the world of history.

The other part of me wants a strictly textbook-based curriculum with no frills and no extras.

I have spent most of my time these past few weeks swinging back and forth between the two.

Last week I really, really thought I had made up my mind (unit studies!). I spent two days going over my plans with my husband. We were set. This plan was The One. Then we went over to a friend's house, and I saw a history textbook set sitting out on her counter. I meandered over to peruse it (just for fun), and BAM! I knew that I had found The One. I spent the trip home detailing to my husband my New-and-Improved history plan. He listened patiently.

Seriously. It's insane. Or I am.

As a matter of fact, we don't even know if we're going to do formal history this coming year or not. We may keep it informal (i.e. read-alouds and library books). We're not sure. But I am the uptight kind of planner who has to have every decision made (even if the working out of that decision is years down the road). Thus, I'm obsessing over it.

There's no doubt that unit study learning is usually more fun. But the one year that we immersed ourselves in unit study awesomeness, I ended up so burned out that I didn't particularly want to continue homeschooling, let alone do more unit studies. I wonder possibly if unit studies and all the attendant awesomeness are more suited to artistic mothers who can exist comfortably amidst endless crafts and messes? I don't know. For myself, I must admit that I find the stress somewhat overwhelming.

This year, when we didn't do unit studies (or did only a few measly ones at the beginning which petered out pretty quickly), we haven't had quite as much fun with history... but on the other hand, I am finishing out the year with my enthusiasm for homeschooling intact. I'm honestly chomping at the bit to get started with our next school year. No unit studies = no burnout.

Additionally, since unit studies are more time-consuming, I have found that we have more time for fun stuff when we don't do unit studies - like free reading, outside play, individual creative work. So it may be that a unit-study-free life is just as fun... but the fun is in other areas rather than the school work itself.

(If it sounds like I'm rambling, it's because I am.)

For all those reasons, I am currently leaning toward textbook learning for history. If I can rest assured that history is taken care of with textbooks, then we can fully enjoy our free reading and library trips without worrying about covering enough (or doing all of the intense planning) that unit studies require.

And considering that I will probably spend every other year good and nauseated from morning sickness (depending on the Lord's plan for our family), a textbook approach seems possibly more practical.

However... give it five minutes, and I'll be arguing passionately for unit studies. That's just my current schizophrenic state. This is not a well-ordered blog post full of well-reasoned points. It's just a chance to get the craziness down on paper while my mind works out the details.

Thankfully, the Lord has always been faithful to reveal what He wants for our family, as well as giving me guidance through my husband's leadership. This too will be resolved for His glory and our family's good.

In the meantime...

The insanity continues.

By the way, have I told you how I've decided to do unit studies for our family's history study?



  1. Oooohhhhhh! I can sympathize with you!!!!!

  2. Hahaha! I understand! Sometimes I look longingly at workbook based curricula for every single subject, or even computer based ones, daydreaming of how nice and streamlined everyone's learning would be with minimal input or thought from me. And as I'm currently in the morning sickness phase again it's one of those gentle reminders that homeschooling can be flexible and that training my children in diligence and routines is eternally helpful. Are we getting to everything I would do if I weren't sick all day every day? No. But we're learning and I'm learning to let that be enough. Again.

    1. Yes, every time through pregnancy is another learning phase, isn't it? I have only been through it three times with other children, and really only once during homeschooling. But every time I see that God's timing is perfect, and that it does work out in the end for everyone's good. It's definitely not easy in the moment, though!

  3. just chiming in to give my 2cents because you sound so stressed.
    We are 6 weeks away from finishing our school year and I love text books! They leave all the guessing out of schooling because you know everything is covered along with quizzes and tests. This will complete our 7th year of homeschooling and I feel it is so much more organized than when my mom tried to do unit studies with my brothers and me.
    So I guess my advice would be - don't be afraid of the text books!!! Give 'em a try and see how freeing they are!! :)

    1. Your advice is so very apt, and it is exactly the same conclusion that we reached. We're doing textbooks for history, and I'm very relieved about it. Thank you for your reassurance!! :)


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