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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Too Many Curriculum Options?

The other night I was blessed to attend a brainstorming session with our local homeschool group and one of the ideas that came up was having a series of curriculum nights…kind of a “live” version of the virtual curriculum fair I hosted here in January.  Because many of us are feeling a little hyper about our plans for the fall and somehow talk it all out and actually holding things in your hands makes it all feel easier.

We have a nice mix of those with very young children, those with kids quickly approaching high school, those who are already doing high school (and beyond!), and those who have some all of the above.   One of the longtime homeschooling moms pointed out that when she started educating her kids…she had 4 complete curricula to choose from.  4.  Kinda blows your mind, doesn’t it?

Looked at a Rainbow Resource catalog lately?

But her point was that she was able to pick up this boxed curriculum and teach her kids from it.  No worries.  They learned and grew to be productive adults.

Of course, not everybody did that.  In fact, another mom who’s been in the trenches for nearly as many years said she created her own curriculum. 

I’ve done that.  Even with all the myriad of choices out there, I’ve done that.

And some of those homeschoolers who started 20 years ago developed their own materials and eventually made them available for other homeschoolers to use…part of the reason we have so many choices today.

I personally love the fact that there are so many possibilities.  Part of the reason we chose to educate our children ourselves is because we knew that our oldest son’s academic needs were not being met in a school setting.  His skills from one subject to the next are not all on one grade level, and so buying a particular grade curriculum for him might have worked, but would not have been ideal.

So I’m thankful for all the people out there who have poured their hearts and minds into developing programs to make my life easier.

The only problem is…there’s so much good stuff out there that’s it’s hard to choose what is best

This is true in every part of our lives, for every choice we make, we turn our backs on other choices.  It’s impossible to live keeping all the possibilities open.  You simply must choose.

Sometimes you make a great choice.

Sometimes you make an ok choice that could have been better.

Sometimes you just plain make the wrong choice.

We’re talking about the education of our precious kiddos here.  The pressure is on.  We pray.  We research.  We read reviews.  We read samples.  We wander convention halls.  We drive ourselves bananas.

But at some point, we make a choice and either stick to it…or waffle.  My biggest problem, and I really do think this is a personal failing, is choosing and then turning my back on the other possibilities.  I just can’t seem to do it.  That “grass is greener” thing gets me every time.

Ugh, it’s been a hard year.  A year of growing.

In many ways, has been a very good year.  My oldest has finally hit his stride in all things arithmetic.  He’s not brilliant about it, but he can do it (something I honestly worried wouldn’t happen).  He’s becoming more independent about his studies and developing some strong academic interests (he wants to study Greek next year…who knew?). 

His younger brother has taken off in his reading.   He’ll try to read anything (so please watch what you post on your facebook status, friends).  Getting the right glasses to help his vision issues has made a tremendous difference.

Their middle sister continues to do well all around and is demanding to be challenged.  Boring mom.  Boring.

They all want to be challenged. 

For a while I was thinking that I had goofed again, that I made this year too easy for them.  Too boring, too basic.

But I’m thinking now that they’re simply becoming confident about their abilities and that’s a good thing.  Sometimes you just need a little more practice until you develop mastery, and then ta da!  You know it and it’s time to move on.

And the other side of it is that I know now that the challenge is welcome, not something that I’m pushing on them.

So, here we are again, looking ahead at the next year, feeling a little uncomfortable, like we want this year to be done, almost as though we’ve outgrown it, if that makes any sense.  Doing it to get it done.  I don’t want to feel that way again come next March, so I’m staring at all my choices…

…and trying to make the right ones.  They’ve consumed my thoughts and internet time lately.

Oh, the eyestrain. ;0)

But I think I’ve got things mostly figured out and that makes me (and my husband) happy.  Now if I could just block out all the nagging at the back of my brain from the things I don’t choose.  Those lingering doubts.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?


  1. I hear ya! I love the choices, but . . .

    I find as they get older some things get easier and some harder. Always new territory. And, as you mentioned, as kids grow what worked needs tweaking as well.

    Keeps us on our toes. :)

  2. I find that I never stick to the same thing. What worked for one kid rarely works for others. And I get bored of teaching them from the same text, so I like to explore more options.

    Some things I never see us changing: A Beka for math, IEW for writing, and Shurley for grammar.

    Love ya! Give a kiss to Mary for me!

  3. As our kids grown and change, we need to change with them, so I'm all for change. There are just so many options to explore!

  4. I have an only child, so what works for her works for her. What I have noticed is that as she gets older she is needing more and varied curriculum. I know what works now, but each year brings different needs and I have to stay aware of what is available so that if what is working stops working I will know where to go next. Part of the reason we homeschool is so that my daughter can have an individualized education, so I guess we are on track so far!
    Charging forward in our sixth grade curriculum, homeschooling because it is what we need to do, and wondering where tomorrow will lead us!


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