Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homeschooling--Finding Curriculum that Works for You

We are in our 9th year of homeschooling. We (and by “we” I mean “I”) have floundered from year to year. We started homeschooling because we simply did not trust anyone else with our children. We do not agree with/like a lot of the things public school teaches and we did not want to submit our children to the public school's version of these things. Our thinking then morphed into “We can provide a better education for our children at home.” I still agree with that. At home we can tailor their curriculum to fit their learning styles and interests.

We started out using Abeka. I had a 3 year old and a nursing 1 year old in addition to my kindergartener and I needed easy. I thought easy was something that told me what to do and say and when I should do and say it. I was a dyed-in-the-wool Abeka homeschooler. But God had different ideas. I was introduced to Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. God tilted our homeschooling world and set it to spinning. We ditched the “drill and kill” Abeka math. Don't get me wrong, Abeka is a great curriculum and children gain a wonderful education with it. However, for us, it just wasn't working. I didn't see the point in frustrating my children with 20 long division problems at one sitting. I discovered Math-U-See. Thank God for Mr. Demme, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Please, please, PLEASE come out with Science-U-See, History-U-See, Grammar-U-See, etc. Math-U-See is short, simple and to-the-point. I have learned so much, like, WHY we do what we do in mathematical operations. I have had several “Ah ha moments” with this curriculum.

Then we turned to our grammar program. We had a few false starts. Learning Language Arts Through Literature sounded wonderful, but after a while it just got too boring and tedious. Then I discovered Easy Grammar. O.K., so maybe there is a Grammar-U-See, it is called Easy Grammar. And, boy, is it easy! I actually enjoy looking for parts of speech in sentences. We did deviate for the daughter this year and went back to Abeka grammar, but I wish we hadn't. There have been several occasions when I have said to her, “Get rid of the prepositional phrase, the answer will jump out at you.” I mean, giddy excitement on my part to discover that simpler really is better. Grammar should be grammar, not art class. (Unless you are the artsy sort, then, by all means, turn grammar into art.) I can't stand trying to draw all those lines to put parts of speech into their correct place. I am referring to diagramming—I can't abide it. We will do a little bit of it at some point because I want my children to at least know what people are talking about, but for now, I am all about getting rid of those prepositional phrases and going on a noun, verb, adverb (you get the picture) hunt.

I did find Science-U-See. It is called, get involved in a science co-op. Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful lady who is teaching the daughter and several other children using Apologia science. I have some science stories that I will share soon. Science and I don't get along so well.

History-U-See? Well, probably that would be Sonlight. But I have a slight problem. I fall asleep during read alouds. Not polite when someone else is doing the reading. Downright troubling when it is I who am doing the reading. I love the concept of Sonlight, I simply struggle executing it. Hey, I'm a busy mom. I stop moving and start listening to a voice droning on and on, and my body thinks it is nap time. Bad, bad mommy-teacher.

My conclusion: find a curriculum that works for you. Better yet, find a curriculum that you can work with. You and your children will be happier. They will learn. Life is our classroom.