A friend of mine directed me to this inspired blog. Please read Please Dont.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
...feel guilty if you are not writing your own homeschooling curriculum for the upcoming schoolyear. If you are doing "school in a box", do not think you are a bad mommy. If you ordered all your books and syllabi in May and are enjoying the last days of summer by going camping, hiking or sitting poolside without a curriculum catalog in sight, take heart. Your children will turn out normal and smart (and will be good swimmers to boot). Or if you have many children and did not order any books because you are planning to use the same old, faithful, well read books that have been passed down from brother to sister to brother again, do not despair that you are not buying the most up and coming, trendy materials. Your children will learn and flourish nonetheless.
If you are using the same curriculum provider you used last year and the year before and the year before that, don't hang your head in shame because you are not being creative enough or because you aren't tailoring your entire curriculum to the fancies of each of your children. The key to success is to be steadfast and to stick to the basics while allowing much free time in the afternoons for things that interest your family members. A little bit done well every day is better than a school year of feast and famine, taking much time off and then catching up quickly in desperation.
I was recently talking with a college friend who is a veteran homeschooling mom. She shared her fears that she has every summer that she might plan or choose the wrong curriculum. She second guesses herself every year because she compares her plans and ideas to others around her. After all, there is so much out there. Many experienced moms do this, they spend the summer months spinning their wheels, writing elaborate plans that are only used for a few weeks. They often continue their search and change their plans even after the school year has begun. They spend hundreds of dollars on supplies and books, often times to quit midyear because they can't get it all done or because they are plagued with self doubt. It is the never ending search for the perfect curriculum.
The perfect curriculum for our family is simple and doable. That doesn't mean it is academically easy. It is one that can be done day in and day out, even when mom is sick or in the months after a baby is born. Our family spent a lot of time spinning its wheels in recent years because I overplanned all summer long and expected too many subjects to be completed during the school year. Now we mainly focus on math, reading and writing. (And reading encompasses a wide variety of subjects because one can read books about history, religion, science, art, music, nature and more.) The rest is gravy and there is plenty of time for gravy in our home when the core work is done. In fact, my daughter learned to knit, my son learned to carve wood, not because I scheduled it onto a calender but because we got the core subjects done and there was plenty of time left for them to pursue their own interests.
Let go of your guilt that you are not doing enough if you are only doing the basics. Stop reading books or visiting sites online that feed your feeling of homeschooling inadequacy. Plan as much as you need to have a successful year. No more, no less. Just because someone in your homeschooling group wants to plan their entire day down to each half hour segment or wants to study twelve different unrelated subjects each year doesn't mean you need to do the same. And resist the temptation to schedule every waking hour of your day with school work. You will burn out and so will your children.
Many subjects can be "farmed out". Maybe your kids are in scouts and can learn science while completing a merit badge. Music can be covered by the piano teacher. Physical fitness can be covered by team sports if your children play them. It doesn't have to be up to you to cover every possible subject.
And, really, there is more to life than homeschooling, isn't there? Just have the children get to the basics on a daily basis and allow lots of time for whatever floats their boats. Many of our fall and winter afternoons are spent around the fireplace with everyone together even if doing something different. The littlest may be lying on the floor drawing pictures. Another might be knitting, another reading a book or practicing an instrument. Someone else might be baking something in the kitchen. These are not things I schedule but things that happen because parents and children spend time together, live together, play and work together.
I have missed many a sunset, game of catch and good conversation with my family because I used to spend my entire summer overplanning, overtalking and overthinking the upcoming school year. Then I spent a lot of time during the schoolyear being frustrated that my elaborate plans were not being fulfilled.
Our value as homeschooling mothers does not come from the plans we write or don't write, the books we use or don't use, the schedules we create or don't create. It comes from loving and caring for our family's needs, teaching them the important things and spending time with them. This requires looking into their eyes, not staring at a computer screen, color coding and scheduling our life while our children memorize the back of our head. Turn around and look at those beauties. They will remember your face and the time you spent with them far more than the plans you write or the schedules you create.
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