Thursday, February 17, 2011

Potential and Possibilities

I'm working hard to think early about the next academic year. And I find it very exciting this time around. I always think through every possible option for our family and each child. From unschooling to boxed curriculum, I review each choice every year and "try it on" for size in my mind. Naturally, I also ask my children what they are enjoying, what their interests are, what they want to do, etc. I feel like their input is essential to a successful year. I'm no where near finished with this process, but am having fun looking at all the possibilities. After so many years of having the kids home, I realize that the approach itself isn't what matters - it's whether or not it works for us.  A boxed curriculum would not work for us. Every year I look at Calvert, and every year I make the same decision not to buy. It's not that there is anything wrong with Calvert, it's just that I know myself and I couldn't follow it - I'm too much of a tweaker (that is a gross understatement - I'm more of a "let's completely re-do everything" type). Unschooling at this point would not work for us. I've talked to unschoolers with teens, and it seems that maybe when my kids are in high school this might be a good option, but not for now. It's not the approach itself, and goodness knows that by the nature of having children we end up doing many, many, many child-led projects, games, etc. It's part of what keeps us so busy. But dropping all structure? Not right now. It wouldn't work for me. Or my kids for that matter - they've told me time and again how much they love what we do. And in the end, I really don't think it matters so long as the homeschool parent is happy and functioning - if I'm stressed out and anxious, my kids will be, too.

So that leaves me back where I always fall - eclectic homeschooler. Which of course, means thousands of options and possibilities. Right now, I'm concentrating on my oldest. She has specifically asked to do some work "on the computer," so I think we'll use PowerSpeak for a foreign language. I am also planning to take my family to Costa Rica for a month for a living language program, but that may or may not happen next year. It will happen at some point - I'm determined!- but the timing is TBD right now. And I own Auralog, but I think I'll hold off on that until she has a firmer base. It seems like a very good program, but perhaps too unstructured for her right now as she doesn't speak Spanish at all. 

As for the other subjects... sigh. Math, we will stay the course with Teaching Textbooks and Math Mammoth. She is absolutely improving with these two programs and while math isn't her strong area, she is making strides. Art and Music - right now, I think we (a) get lots of these just living life, visiting museums, going to performance, talking with artists and musicians, learning an instrument, etc.; and (b) I like my approach for the rest - we do monthly musician studies (this basically means reading a biography, watching a biographical movie, and listening to lots of his/her music, followed by creating a reflection (either by drawing or writing); in art we do a weekly project (we also do so many other art projects they choose I can't always keep up, so I know we're covered).  But the "meaty" subjects of Language Arts, History and Science... I'm still researching options and getting her input. There's lots of potential for a wonderful year, and I'm looking forward to it!


  1. I love that time of year, it's fun, exciting but also a tad stressful and intimidating at times.

  2. We are eclectic too. I can relate to your post. I look at some box curriculum, like Sonlight (secularized), and I have considered unschooling. But what really feels right is taking a little of this and a little of that, eclectic for sure!
    We are using Teaching Textbooks too for math (my 2 oldest) and it works, so we're not changing it. I follow a more Charlotte Mason style for some subjects, and a bit of WTM for others..

  3. I have looked at Sonlight for the first time this year (well, I've looked before but never seriously). I was actually thinking of using it eclectically for history/geography...
    I've traditionally done the eclectic version of classical, adding in lots of my own stuff with Charlotte Mason-esque aspects...
    This year I took a big leap to something different - we tried some Moving Beyond the Page (and my kids LOVE this - project-based, almost like a unit study) for literature and social studies....
    Even though I know where I'll end up, I usually go through the same process, driving everyone close me to nuts as I go over and over the pros and cons of various options. It's why I need to start in February! So that by August I have finally narrowed it down!! =D