Friday, May 18, 2012

Contemplating Changes for Next Year

It's that time of the homeschool year...any frustrations that have been realized through this year's curriculum choices are now at their peak and I start looking ahead to our next term, boldly slashing, analyzing and adding to make our homeschool machine run a bit more smoothly next time around.

We're a Charlotte Mason family. We read...A LOT. It's what I love about homeschooling. It captures my children. They make connections on their own that I could never put together for them. Their eyes light up when they recall historical characters from one novel that exhibit similar character traits to a current novel. They can tell the story of history on their own in one fluid story.

And HELLO, I'm getting the education of my life.

So, as I contemplate what needs to change for next year, I also bear in mind what has especially worked for us this year. So much of what we have is wonderful. So much of what isn't working is because of my own failure to have our household run in the smooth efficient manner that is should.

To help my jumbled mind out, I'm focusing first on the things that need to change, or "opportunities for improvement" (said in my best boss-mimicking way). These are things I need to find solutions for and be intentional about implementing for the next year. Random reflections:
  • Math for my daughter is NOT working for the family. Tears abound almost daily. A change must be made. Have I ever mentioned that I have a degree in math? You can imagine this is rather alarming to have a child that isn't thrilled at the prospect of a daily rap session with mom on the beauty of Fibonacci numbers and the joyful mysteries of the integer '9'. We have been happy users of RightStart Math for 4 years now. This is a rock solid math curriculum. However, it's taking a lot out of me right now because it is extremely teacher intensive and quite frankly, I think she would perform better if Mom wasn't driving every step of the lesson. I could go on and on about my thoughts surrounding RightStart, but the bottom line for my planning is that for her I need a different curriculum. I'm currently leaning towards MathUSee for a variety of reasons.
  • My son, on the other hand, delights in math! He begs to watch "The Joy of Mathematics" from The Great Courses as a reward for finishing school. Be still my heart! He's thriving with RightStart. I'm trying to decide if I stick to that one for his last year (Level E), or switch him over, too. I would really love to use a curriculum that is a little (OK, a lot) less teacher dependent...
  • Over the past year I have been delegating subjects to the children for independent work. This has been mostly readings. I recently went to a lecture by Andrew Pudewa where he exhorted the audience to NOT cut back on reading out loud to your children especially after they begin to read for themselves. It was quite convicting. Hence, why I am looking to move to more independence in math and take back some of the delegation I have given in literature.
  • Written narrations have been inconsistent at best. We are very diligent with verbal narrations after every single reading. It's time to start easing into writing.
  • Copywork has also been sporadic. This is something that we should be doing every single day. Why haven't we? Because half the time the child cannot find the copywork book, or we're out of lined manuscript paper, or Mom hasn't written out the words and sentences to be copied for the day. See how it stems to me not having it together?
  • Latin has completely dropped off the spectrum. Time to get that going again.
  • Nature study hasn't happened. Not a formal nature study where we take sketch books outside and learn dry brushing and other ways of preserving our observations. Since we are dabbling in our own garden growing, that at least has provided some non-formal studies for the kids to learn what grows when, watching for progress on their sown seeds, harvesting fruits and greens, collecting seeds for future sowing after a plant has gone through the bolting process. Better than nothing, but I'd still love to add in the sketching component as Charlotte recommends.
Whew! Solutions (the ones I have come up with, that is) and what is working for us to follow.

Thanks for indulging my thinking out loud!


  1. I feel the same way as you, I'm getting a better education by teaching my children than I ever did in school. I love that as homeschoolers, we can tweak our curriculum to suit the needs and learning styles of our children. My children also love to read, and event the oldest still comes in to hear me read aloud to his younger siblings. That being said, math is not the favorite subject around here. We switched back in January from Saxon math to the Life of Fred series, and have been quite happy with it. It's laid out as a story, which really appeals to my kids.

    1. I've heard really wonderful things about the Life of Fred. I've not heard regrets from anyone I know that is using it. How teacher intensive is it? It's one I've been meaning to look into for my son - thanks for mentioning that!