Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homeschooling stuff

Yesterday we had a little get-together with some homeschoolers. And by little, I mean a crowd. Our Bible study class has something like 9 homeschool families, plus we had some others come. Some that have been homeschooling and some that are looking to begin next year.

It was really a lot of fun. We stood around chatting about field trips and things, but mostly it was about curriculum. If you've ever even looked into homeschooling, you know that the volume of different curriculum options out there is staggering. overwhelming. terrifying. You find one and the next thought is "What if there's something better?" So you keep looking. You smile at the strengths and groan over the weaknesses of each one. You add up the prices of all the different parts. You sit up nights poring over websites for products and trying to find reviews. You call every homeschooler you know and ask what they're using. You essentially drive yourself and your significant other crazy trying to make a decision. Any decision. About anything.

The whole curriculum thing was the absolute scariest aspect of beginning homeschooling and every year I go over the decision again. Should I stick with the same thing? Change it a little? Change it a lot? What is going to work this year with this child is this situation?

So far with K we've done-

Kindergarten - Math and Language Arts/Social Studies at a university-model school, science at a nature center, reading and basic skills at home

First grade - A Beka DVD program

Second grade - A Beka traditional program (same curriculum, but I taught it)

Third grade - A Beka DVD program

Next year, I will have a 4th grader and a kindergartener. I'm 99% sure that I want L to do the A Beka DVD program for the first few years. It has worked very well giving K a good academic foundation and has helped her do well with homeschooling. Trust me, K did *much* better with the DVD than when she and I were working on our own together. I think the DVD will do the same thing for L.

My big question for this next year is for K. She has requested dropping the DVD stuff. She wants more literature, more independent learning, and she wants to take a class. I promised her I would look into it and so I again find myself mired in the curriculum swamp that sucks in every homeschooler each spring. In some ways, it brings back those feelings of panic that overwhelmed me when I first started considering homeschooling. In other ways, though, I'm not that same green, reluctant newbie who wandered around her first curriculum bookfair in a daze. I know a little more now and I'm a little more confident that I'm not going to completely fail as a teacher and ruin my child.

Ok, some days I'm a little more confident.

Some days I'm absolutely sure it would be easier to stick her on the next yellow school bus that passes our neighborhood. But then I remember that brings its own set of issues.

So for awhile I'll be researching curriculum options. I'm actually kind of excited about it. We even talked about putting together a co-op at the meeting yesterday. If you told me that four years, I would have laughed. Then told you to go find your brain because you had obviously lost it somewhere.

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