Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Right Homeschool for You

I've been talking with a few "new to homeschool" mom's lately, and come to realize that, as overwhelmed as I am with all the curriculum choices, they honestly have no idea what type of curriculum they want or need.

The good news is that, with a little time and patience, you can figure it out.

I recently read one of Cathy Duffy's Top Pick books from the library. While it was helpful. and full of advice on choosing curriculum, I had fortunately already found the right curriculum for me and my kids. And my method didn't involve a whole bunch of charts or adding up percentages or open ended essay questions (because really, what homeschool mom has time for all that).

First, I heard about an all in one curriculum that a friend loved (My Father's World). But her kids weren't really learning quickly with that method, and my son already knew the integrated phonics. Plus, I felt the Bible was a bit more kitschy sayings than actual Bible verses. But I loved the idea of all-in-one (and my husband did too since he was "on the fence" about homeschooling, he figured if you finished a whole "curriculum" then you'd be covered educationally.

We briefly looked at Classical Conversations because of some friends, but quickly crossed that one off (too expensive and all the "bad" of formalized education). Having determined that my philosophy is more Charlotte Mason than Classical, but I need more support and structure than "read these books and do some nature walks" we finally settled on the Heart of Dakota series.

There were no checklists or charts, just trying out a few options recommended or used by friends and quickly seeing what worked or didn't work for me or my kids. I originally though Heart of Dakota was a bit silly with the rhymes and dramatic play, but those are exactly the things that my kids need to work on (since my Kindergarten son doesn't participate in group activities, and rarely did make-believe before starting this program).

We ended up joining a co-op, and while it's been a big time-consuming venture, it's also been a great stretch for me and the kids, and given us a bit more of a social outlet. With a little experimentation, experience, and a few schedule changes this spring semester, things are working out pretty well with that too.

So, am I saying not to read about all your curriculum choices, or don't attend curiculum fairs or homeschool conventions? No, I think those have their place as well. I'm suggesting that sometimes making a decision about curriculum can be easier than it seems. Pick something that feels right for you and your family, and then try it out. Don't be afraid to change halfway through, but don't change on a dime either. Give it a few weeks to percolate and work out the bugs so it works for your family and then stick with a routine for a bit. You'll be surprised how much you learn, and your kids will be fine in the long-run.
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