Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

I'm still trying to decide on homeschooling curriculum for next year. The way I approach this every year is to start with the big picture and work down from there. I actually look at several big pictures (e.g., my education goals for my children over the course of their home education, my goals for the year, etc.), but what it really comes down to is my big-picture "approach" picture. From what style, method, etc., do I want to approach the year.

I feel much less angst than I have in the past. This shouldn't surprise me, but it does. I think that I have completely accepted that no matter the approach, I will do a good job and my girls will do well. That's actually a really great place to be.  In previous years, I've worried that I wouldn't do a good job, that I'd be doing something detrimental to the kids' education, that I was somehow picking the "wrong" thing, etc.  So I have to take a moment and congratulate myself on graduating to this level of homeschool parent. I believe this means that I've officially exited the "entry level" and am now moving up to the level of "experienced homeschool mom." Hurray, me!  I wonder what comes next...

Anyway, at this point my brain has come up with three possible ways to go about the upcoming year. I still do not know what I will choose. I feel that I do need to decide rather soon, but not necessarily today. I will probably give myself the deadline of "by the end of the weekend." (I find that I make decisions better when I have an actual deadline, and since I don't work for anyone else, I need to give these to myself as an employer would to an employee.)

So, here's what I'm thinking - not that it's interesting to anyone but me...

  1. Stay the Course - I have been a (loosely) classical home educator up until this point, and it's worked for us. I can continue in the vein. For my youngest three, I know exactly what to do. For my oldest, I'd need to look over Logic Stage stuff, but I'm fairly familiar with it so it's more a matter of planning out the year. Dread. That is the hard part. I plan out our entire year in advance so that during the year things go smoothly. And it works, it's just a LOT of work for me. Thirty-six to forty weeks of homeschool work for four children, all copied and ready to go, assignments in the right folder, my plan book filled out, all supplies purchased, etc... just take my word for it - it's a lot of work. I mean 60+ hours of work, no joke. 
  2.  Ready-Made Options -This option is one that I look at every year, but this year it is actually a two-fold option...
    1. Ready-Made for Everyone - I can ditch our usual method, and simply forge ahead with something new, and mostly ready-to-go, for everyone. I'm most seriously considering Oak Meadow and Moving Beyond the Page. I also looked at Calvert.
    2. Ready-Made for the Oldest - In this option, I can Stay the Course for my youngest three (I've been doing it for years so I have almost everything I'd need) and do something different for my oldest. She is ready for a change it seems, and she is also very independent which is great because with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders below her, I can use the time. In this option, I'm still considering Oak Meadow, Moving Beyond the Page, or Calvert.  
  3. The Low-Cost Option - I like a challenge. I really do. So I've considered taking on a challenge where I try not to spend any money. )I've already ruined this option by purchasing things for Spanish, Technology and Math, so maybe I should take this one off the table.) However, I haven't done the bulk of my planning yet so there are still vast quantities of money to be saved (which is good, because we really don't have extra money this year - at all). Naturally, my husband votes for this option. And while I feel that this is a good option and that one can provide a stellar education for little money, it takes the other big expense to do - TIME. And this year, that is the biggest problem for me. I don't have the energy right now (post-surgery, remember) to spend even more time than option one on planning and preparing. I know from experience that however long I think things take, they take longer. So this option isn't quite as appealing to me, though I really do like a challenge... Plus I am tempted by the idea of using what I already have - not wasting. I hate waste. Ask anyone who knows me well. I save and re-use quite well. I rarely even buy new clothes. But in homeschooling, you inevitably end up having more than you can use... or do you?? Therein lies my challenge. I could USE what I HAVE. It sounds simple, but believe me it's not because the things you haven't used, there's usually a reason... To add to this I found Lesson Pathways - a cool (and totally FREE) online program that provides lesson ideas for K-5 on the core subjects.  Hmmm.
There you have it. My brain right now, in a nutshell. Scary, isn't it. Oh well. I'll be thinking hard and annoying my friends. For example, last night I really wanted to tell my best friend that no, she couldn't get off  the phone with me and go about her life, she really needed to keep talking to me and listen to me go on and on about my thoughts on my homeschooling curriculum options and choices (she would have been shocked because I had exerted extreme control and not even mentioned this topic). But I figured that our friendship has lasted twenty-six years - why blow it now?


    1. I can totally understand how you feel! We just wrapped up our 11th year of homeschool and I can say I've felt the same way you do at least 11 times! (possibly more if you count the mid-year "is this really working for us?" pauses. ;-)

      Unfortunately, I don't have any solid advice for you because your family is unique and what works for me (which changes every year anyway) may not work for you. I can offer you encouragement and let you know that you are the most qualified person to make the right decision!

      I'm glad you found I think it's great to use, even as a resource to spice up curriculum for older kids too! I hope you join us over at our blog; we're hosting a ton of giveaways this week, in honor of our birthday.

      All the Best,

      Christina S., Team Member

    2. Thank you for the encouragement, Christina. I really need it about now. And it means a ton coming from someone who's been at it for eleven years - congratulations on that accomplishment!

      LessonPathways is such a wonderful find for me - I definitely plan to use it no matter which way we go (i.e., for add-ins, as the spine, etc.). I have even directed my sister, a second-grade teacher, to it so she can get ideas for her classroom.

    3. I HAD to laugh at your convo with your friend. I feel the same way a LOT of the time, lol.

      We use Lp, too and so far, so good. We school all year and I plan every 6 weeks. I find that it's less intimidating to only have to plan for a few weeks at a time. Plus, we can make changes to what we're doing without screwing up the whole year's plans.