Friday, July 26, 2013

Tic Toc, Tic Toc

Time is ticking away and soon we will be starting our school year.  Our first as a homeschooling family.  I have moments when I'm super excited and confident; and moments of cheer panic and doubts.  I sure hope this is normal. 

Right now, while most of my friends with school age kids are buying school supplies, I'm looking over the curriculum I chose, and starting to plan our lessons, but most importantly trying to figure when to start and end the school year so we can cover all the material I want them to learn; and still have fun learning.  Not an easy task, let me tell you.

Some families choose box curriculums, every subject published by the same company, and everything is ready for day one.   Needless to say, I didn't go this route.  All three of my kids have very distinct learning styles, one size does not fit all in this house.  I decided to be an "ecletic homeschooler".  Sounds fancy, doesn't it?  That's just a nice way to say I'm a rebel (hotty toddy!) and I don't like being put inside a "box".  Not even a curriculum box that would have made all this planning a whole lot easier.  

So, I have pieced together the curriculum for the kids.  I have chosen math from one company, english and science from another, history from another.  You get the idea.

Without further ado, I present to you our game plan.  I reserved the right to change my mind any time during the implementation of said plan, and to drop something if it just isn't working.  And to keep the tearing of my hair to a minimum.

Math of course, because this is a must.  Picking a curriculum wasn't exactly easy.  Did you know there is a spiral method of teaching math? I didn't til I started looking for a curriculum.  Ruled out the spiral method because that's what the kids used in school last year and I did not care for it; specially for the boys. 

Science is another "must".  There is an unspoken rule (not sure the kids are aware yet ha!), they must like science.  It's fascinating, it's fun, it's alive.  How can you not like it?   I was so excited when I got the teacher's guide for 6th grade and saw there is a whole unit of chemistry in the book!  How cool is that?  (if you had nightmares related to chemistry in school, I'm sorry.  My nightmares were biology related)

English and all it entails.  This one really confused me because I kept finding "language arts" curriculum; and I had no idea what the heck that entailed.  So, I have a curriculum that covers grammar, reading, writing.  And we'll use a website they used last year for spelling.  That should cover it.  To be honest, of all the courses I'm planning for this year, this one is the scariest.

History also made the list.  My girl asked to do ancient history this year, so that's what we are doing for her.  For the boys, will probably do US History.  Simply an intro to history.  I love history, but didn't like having to read it for class and memorize stuff.  So we are definitely going to try and make it as much fun as possible.

Geography because, in my opinion, there are too many people who don't have a clue there is more than Mexico south of the US border.  Sorry, that's a huge pet peeve of mine.  If I had a dime for every time someone asked me if Panama was a) part of Mexico or b) in Florida; I would have enough to retire now.  Anyway, so all three of the kids will be doing geography this year. Didn't buy a curriculum for this one; I'm going to use a map and focus this year on the American continent. So far they know where Mississippi and Panama are located.  

Spanish is also on the list.  This one is right up there with math, english, and science.  Rule numero uno, Spanish only when talking to me.  We'll start slow but they will have to practice it to learn it.  I'm hoping by the end of the year, they'll be able to at least understand when their grandmother asked them if they are hungry.

Bible was a request from my girl.  She wants to read more of the Old Testament so that's what we are going to do.   

Life Skills or home economics because everyone should know how to cook, sew,and iron including my boys.  I learned to cook when I was 12, so I know my girl is ready, and it's not too early for the boys to help mix pancakes, and make cookies.  We have discussed sewing before but hadn't done anything about it yet.  Again, no curriculum just teaching her the things I learned as a child.  And teaching her to iron clothes.  Maybe I need to recruit my mom to help with that one.  I'm not a fan of ironing.  

Art because at some point they are going to have to color, right? I'm not an artist, and the artistic genes skipped me.  I think we'll visit the museum of art, learn about a few famous artist, and let the natural artists in them come out.

I sure hope we can fit all that into a schedule without overwhelming everyone.  We still have dance, and piano for the girl, martial arts for one of the boys, and soccer for the other.  

Now comes the fun part.  Put it all together, in a cohesive manner, so everyone knows what we are doing ahead of time.  Sometimes I find myself hoping for a clone, so I can spend more time planning, and planning.  

Wish us luck, will you?  My goal for this year is to make learning FUN.  I want the kids to realize they can learn everywhere, not just inside a classroom and not just from a textbook.  Let the fun begin!


Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm just me and that's good enough

Since we decided to homeschool earlier this year, I've been doing research.  I've read blog after blog, I've researched methods, looked at curriculums, read reviews for both methods and curriculums.  I've had a full homeschool overload.

It seems the more I read, the more I researched, the more my insecurities grew.  I had a few nights where I couldn't go to sleep, overwhelmed with the numerous decisions we had to make.  What curriculum is the best?  What method should I use?  What if my kids hate me for homeschooling them?

I came across a blog the other day (posted by another homeschool mom) that made me realize I'm not alone.  It's ok to be afraid, as long as you don't let the fears take over.

Bottom line is we are not like all other families.  We haven't ever fit the "mold" that most families fit in.  Why start now?

Our homeschool is going to be a reflection of who we are, of our family.  It's not going to be like anyone elses'.  We are unique individuals, and a unique family, so our choices for homeschooling will be unique too.

Talk about having an epiphany!

We may not have a "homeschool room" that resembles a classroom, but we are still going to learn.  We may not use the curriculum the majority of the people we know use, but we will use what works for us.  After all, this "school" doesn't have to fit inside any mold, we can make what we want to fit our needs.

I'm not a perfect mother but I love my kids more than anything in this world.  I want them to love to learn, to be fascinated by all the things that surround them, to discover the beauty of this world.  There is not curriculum that will teach that.  That can only come from us, and how much fun we make this adventure.

So I've come to terms with the fact I'm just me.  A very analytical, scientific mother who does endless research before making a decision.  I may choose engineering based math for my kids and expect them to learn Spanish this next year, and add home economics to our curriculum.  But the bottom line is, I won't set them up for failure.  

I'm their mother, and I know them better than anyone.  And as long as I let my love for them guide the decisions we make, that will be good enough.