Thursday, July 2, 2009

A New School Year-----An Old Way

In August we will be beginning our 8th year of homeschooling. WOW!! Time sure does go by fast. It seems not too long ago I was at my first homeschool convention overwhelmed by the choices. That year, I ended up going over to the Abeka table and buying the whole kit and caboodle for CJ who was entering 4th grade.

The second year I tried to mixed a few things up but ended up doing all Abeka again. It worked.

By the 3rd year I had been to enough homeschool meetings, talked to enough moms and been to enough curriculum fairs too know there were TONS of choices out there. So I jumped ship with Abeka (even though it had been working) and decided to go on my own and put together everything I thought would be best for homeschooling. In all honesty....this was the year the confusion started. By this past school year---my 7th, instead of feeling confident in what I was doing I was frustrated, confused, overwhelmed and pretty much dreading homeschooling. A few times this year I even told Chris that I was putting them ALL in school.

In April, I went to the homeschool convention. I mostly walked around thinking about the upcoming school year and wondering how on earth I will be able to juggle homeschooling a high schooler, 3 elementary age (with one of them needing LOTS of help with reading), a toddler and a newborn. When I got home I was happy to see a book I ordered had come in. Managers of Their School Steven and Terri Maxwell's newest book had not only come in but it was an answer to prayer!!!

I had already been re-evaluating my homeschool before the book had come in:

First question: What year was the best?
Oh, that's easy, the first 2. Those two years we got the most work done, it was organized AND we got done with school by May.

Second question: What year did I think was the worst?
I would have to say the years have seem to get progressively worse.....not better. So this last one probably takes the cake.

Third question:
What has been the biggest change to our homeschool?
At first I would say number of children. But after further evaluation I would say curriculum type. First year it was layed all out for me. As the years progressed, I picked curriculum that required more setup on my part. This might work for some, not for me.

Fourth question:
I look to my oldest----Does he have gaps or holes in is education? No, not really. He has always thrived on textbooks and the times I tried to switch it up with him we would struggle and go back.

It all was pointing back to textbooks. But textbooks I asked myself? That is like a bad word in homeschooling circles. I have found that the general train of thought in regards to homeschooling with textbooks is only a cop-out of a mom would use them. Only one that wants to copy "school" at home. It was something to be almost ashamed of. It isn't the "thing" to do!! What would others think?

Can you believe that even at MY age and in homeschooling there can actually be peer pressure? Don't believe me? I will give you an example. Most people heard of Tapestry of Grace. While I think it is a great curriculum I KNOW that it is not something that would work for my family. Atleast not at this stage of our life. I know of 2 families that used it and LOVED it. They both have been using it for years. Neither one of them have ever tried to push it on anyone. Oh sure, they would talk to you about it all day if you wanted to, but both would tell you that you need to look at your own life with your own children and circumstances to see if it is the right fit for you. Well last year at co-op TOG became the hot curriculum and before I knew it, 9 new families were jumping on board. Yes 9!!! I had people all the time ask if I was going to join in. It was hard, but I said no. I just knew it wouldn't work for us.

Long story short, out of the 9 families that started, I know for sure that 7 of the families stopped using it (if they even started at all). The other 2 families, I have no idea how they are doing. That's alot of money to spend on something to be doing the "in" homeschooling thing.

So after a huge amount of prayer, thought and consideration I was almost at my decision. That is where Manager's of Their School comes in. After reading the book, I can say, WITHOUT shame or embarrassment, that I will be going back to our old way of doing homeschool. We will be using textbooks, mostly Abeka. Terri's book put into words what I have been feeling. It gave me solid reasons to feel comfortable with my choice. I just wish the book had come out years ago. It might have opened my eyes then and I could have forgo alot of confusion.

A wise woman has said to me time and time again "Judy, it's not about the curriculum. The curriculum is a tool." I think I finally get it. It's not about searching and always trying to find "the best", the "in" or the the curriculum you think will be accepted by others. It's not about curriculum X, Y or Z being the "right" one that guarantees if you use it you will have children that are ____ (fill in the blank). It IS about listening to God and seeking what choice He has for you and your family. For me, I believe textbooks is the way to go. I know it has worked very well for us in the past.

Want some more homeschooling blog posts? Head on over to Five J's to quench your thirst.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Thank you for being so open and honest about your experiences. Although I don't use a lot of textbooks, I often feel a little "out of style" because I don't do unit studies or other methods that require a lot of teacher prep. But I totally agree with you — it's the combination that's important: what works for you and your kids the best. There's not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to homeschooling.

Bravo for stepping out and doing the right thing for your family.