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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choosing Curriculum with Your Heart

Oh dear, I’ve been at it again:  letting my head do all the thinking.

A little while ago I mentioned that I thought we were going to be using Sonlight for history and literature next year

After researching, praying and debating, I thought we had settled on using Sonlight’s Core F (Eastern Hemisphere) for David and Core B (Intro to World History part 1). 

But there was this unsettled, not quite right feeling in my heart.  So I kept puttering around on the computer, looking for…I don’t know what.  Something.  A sign, maybe?

Do you remember how the Hebrews kept asking for signs, proofs that our Lord wasn’t going to let them starve in the wilderness?

You see, originally I was looking at doing Core F with David and having the younger kids listen in on books that were appropriate for them and maybe add in more of a unit study of eastern countries…we would all get to know about other cultures, doing some cooking from around the world and immerse ourselves a bit.  This felt so…right for some reason.  And then a friend told me she was finishing up this core this year and would I like to buy it from her for a really good price?

Was that a sign, maybe?

Part of what has felt wrong about this year has been that we spend so much of our time with this kid doing this thing and that kid doing that thing.  Everybody’s in the same room, but they’re not really connecting.  It’s like they’re living in their own academic worlds and only interact during “free time” or when one kid gets annoyed with another kid’s humming.

There’s nothing wrong with that on the surface of it, but one of the reasons we educate our children at home is not so they can each sit at their own little “desks” (they don’t actually use desks, but you catch my drift) and do their own thing all day long without interacting with each other.    Family relationships are very important to us.

So, the idea of studying and learning together gave me a tremendous sense of joy and relief.  David would have more challenging work (which he needs), but the younger children would be able to “tag along.”

But then I started having doubts.  I started reading the public Sonlight forum about choosing a core and started hearing all these suggestions about really “doing” a core and getting the most out of the program as it’s written.

I started to think that what I had in mind was somehow wrong.  Or not exactly wrong, but somehow cheating my kids out of the Sonlight experience.  And neglecting their individual educations.

You’d think that I’ve have been doing this long enough to not think things like that, wouldn’t ya?

My brain started looking at my kids academically instead of as individual people and all of us together as a family.  I lost sight of what it is that we want to accomplish.

So more research and suddenly, rather than working together as a family on one core, we were looking at doing 2 separate cores, with my oldest working as much on his own as possible and the middles embarking on ancient history.

But even though that looked right on paper and met with thumbs ups from some veteran Sonlight users, I still hesitated.  It just didn’t feel right.  This really wasn’t what I had in mind at all.

Much as my oldest needs to be stretched and challenged, he’s at a vulnerable point in his life.  He’s growing up, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be apart from his younger siblings.

I racked my brain trying to remember every single history curriculum that had ever appealed to me and spent hours surfing websites, reading sample schedules, overviews, book lists, etc., etc., etc.  I’ve looked at Connecting with History, Learning Adventures, Trail Guide to Learning, and BiblioPlan, among others (you’ll notice that many of these are all multi-level programs that would allow me to keep my kids together?).

Oh, I momentarily had a bee in my bonnet about doing American history instead.

Yeah, I was more than a little obsessed.

Because this is important.  Choosing what to use and how to use it is so important, an incredible responsibility.  Too much to decide with my head alone.

And I came to realize that I had simply overthought about it.  There was nothing truly wrong with my original plan, and it may even be the right plan for our family.  I don’t have to do a core the way it’s written and there’s no reason why the younger kids need to do their own core at all at this point.  They’ll get much more out of it if I wait another year anyway.  This is the beauty of homeschooling, a 100% custom tailored education, no matter what other people think.

They can shake their heads all they want.  I don’t care.

So, the current history/literature plan for next year (and this is obviously subject to change):

  • Sonlight Core F for David (used, but we will look at this year’s updates to see if we want to buy a new IG)
  • Younger kids listen in to appropriate books, plus we may add some Core A book
  • Plus Galloping the Globe?  Possibly?  Or not.  I’m on the fence there.
  • I also own a few appropriate unit studies from Amanda Bennett with oodles of book suggestions:  Expedition Australia, Expedition China, Expedition Israel, and even Expedition Africa  might come in handy.

The advantage of doing a unit studies with the younger kids---I can also work their science in there.  Science has been hit or miss for us this year as we opted for mostly nature study and, well, let’s just say I’m not very consistent about it.  Ok, they’ve learned, but it’s been of the very informal, nearly impossible to document in portfolios variety (it’s hard to snap pictures when you are desperately clinging onto your youngest son’s jacket and counterbalancing with your own weight to keep you both from falling into the creek while he discovers the critters that live there ;0).

You might also like:

Sometimes You Have to Change Mid-Stream

Avoiding the Labels

Is it Really Only 6 Years Until Graduation?


  1. May this coming year, however your plans end up ultimately working out schedule-wise, lead to your best year homeschooling yet!


  2. Thank you, we could use a little sparkle next year. ;0)


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