As we gear up for the new year, my living room, office, and bedroom have been taken over by homeschooling books, magazines and curriculum. In previous posts I have gone over what we use and why, also what we don’t like and our reasons for that as well. So today I want to express my appreciation for curriculum, but the programs, books, and supplies for kids. I am grateful for the wide spectrum of curriculum for moms. Each year when I go over our list of needs, and then my other list of wants for the kids, I include my list of needs and wants as well. As the kids grow and each year we need to go more in-depth in our studies, I need more inspiration and knowledge than ever. I include my need for books published by specific authors as wells as three homeschool magazines to further knowledge and education I need as a homeschooling mom.
Recently I began to look at Blooms Taxonomy of Thinking Skills and how information is stored in the long-term memory. It was a very useful piece of knowledge I was happy to learn. I wrote several pages of notes for my homeschool bible (home-made book I’ll refer back to throughout the year). I also revisited the different learning styles, which I had learned about in our second year of homeschooling. Just like the first time around, I really have no need to dig deeper into that information at this time. I know how my kids learn best because I am with them all the time. Not to say that it won’t ever come in handy, but not important enough to place into my notes at this point. I hope to never stop learning when it comes to education. I love homeschooling and I love helping my kids find their path to learning. I don’t know what I am going to do when they go off to high school, college, or work. We have many teachers in our family and from what I’ve gathered from one of the grandparents, teaching in a classroom is a whole other animal. I don’t think I would enjoy doing that job as it’s very different from homeschooling. It would be like a midwife becoming an ob surgeon… both deliver babies, but it doesn’t mean that one would necessarily enjoy the other professional’s job. Maybe I’ll write, maybe I’ll use all of this knowledge and love for childhood education as a librarian. I just don’t ever want to stop. Moving into the new school year, loving what we are about to embark on, I think about my future and hope that this stays a part of my life, however big or small, forever.
Several years ago I read a homeschooling mom’s post on a popular online community that read something like this, “it doesn’t matter what curriculum you use, it only matters that you are spending time with your children.” Sorta’, but not really. I think it matters very much which curriculum we use, especially when we are together all day. If we don’t find it enjoyable, we don’t expend the effort for success to happen, and there’s no motivation going on anywhere. I need to find what we are doing not only enjoyable, but it needs to make sense and fit into the master plan. Several curriculums we have tried to incorporate into the day have been too strict and other programs lack enough structure to create orderliness in a way that fosters learning without feeling disjointed. Curriculum is important. I have learned that with experience. Time with me is a given in homeschooling. Only for a short while did we try moving over to a completely independent curriculum and although it worked (meaning the kids learned what they were supposed to) it wasn’t fun and it took so much away from our reasons for homeschooling. Textbook-workbook based curriculum works for others, but it did not work for us. I found that to be true in our first years of trial and error. We currently use unit studies and there are many to choose from these days. I like the freedom to plan it all out at the pace which keeps the kids interested. I like the wiggle room in adding-in or taking-out books and projects and having those allowances built into the schedule. I like planning our units (which last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months). I like that the kids remember everything, even years later, when we discover something, anything, from multiple angles. I love the total immersion into new information which we only get in a unit study. What my boys learn becomes a part of their play and their life. Curriculum matters.
An integral part of next year’s curriculum is the priority of joining the group MPE, Midwest Parents Educators. MPE is a large support group & so much more for homeschoolers here in Kansas City. I won’t get into all the benefits of this particular group, but finding a group, any group, is important. Even if it’s a church youth group. We are a part of a large community and we need each other. We also belong to HSLDA and have our own team of lawyers personally on our side who are continually updating us on what’s going on in the community. They are our advocates and the first ones we call should anyone coming knocking at our door regarding our parenting and our homeschooling. When I have questions or concerns, they are the ones I call on. Online threads are the most convenient at-my-fingertips source of life for those days when I am ready to drop them off the front door of the local public school. I put my favorites on the right side of the page if you want to link to them. I learn so much from these blogs and websites. I never visit these pages and leave without learning from the incredible men and women traveling this journey with me.
Happy summer to all you homeschoolers out there. As you prepare for the new year, share your thoughts and plans on your blogs because I love reading about what you all are doing. And when getting your curriculum for next year, don’t forget about your curriculum… factor in what inspires your life and reminds you why you chose this life because your job is super-duper important and make your curriculum a priority.