Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reality Check

This year I did something new and ordered a curriculum for language arts and social studies/science. There are some really good things about the program (well, programs as I'm doing three different levels) and I can appreciate that there are things I would not have covered or spent time on that are included. There are also things which I find simultaneously hilarious and annoying - this mostly comes in the form of the number of activities or assignments that are supposed to be covered in one day, or the directions for certain activities  - perhaps I should say "lack of directions" as I find instructions that say something like "Research North America and write a report" to be ridiculous.  Obviously as the parent, I have the ability to modify and change whatever I want with the program. So I do. And I recognize that no one thing will work for everyone. Whereas I find that asking my six-year-old to do a lesson on endangered and extinct animals, play a game of charades, create three puppets and put on a scripted puppet show with them, complete a worksheet with world problems involving endangered animals, make three more finger puppets and design her own puppet show may be overkill for one lesson, I'm sure there are other people that find it to be just the right amount of work or even not enough.

But I do feel that most homeschool parents probably do not appreciate programs that are written to the child and involve instructions like this: "Go into the kitchen and bake something, anything you like, and write about the experience." What! Wait a minute - don't they know that we have to leave for swim team in 15 minutes. Don't they know that my child will want to make the most involved and complicated recipe she can find? Don't they know that I am not in the mood to drop what I was doing with my three other kids and start on a major baking adventure? Don't get me wrong - I love to bake and cook with my kids. But it requires a bit of advance notice for me. We don't always have every ingredient. We don't always have the time. And now my kid is upset and disappointed at not being able to do something that is assigned to her that I didn't even see coming. She doesn't care that I tell her we can do it this weekend. Now I've got a sad kid, three other kids that are clamoring to bake something, and a headache. And I did read ahead to see what was coming up in her assignments - I just missed that teeny, tiny sentence in the 4 pages for that lesson. Silly me.

That's what I get for buying something ready-made. I want to add a little box to the list of required materials that says: "This program also requires a reality check."

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