Friday, April 11, 2014

A week of planning and learning

The end of our very first year of homeschooling is fast approaching.  This has been quite the ride!  I have learned a lot about the kids, not to mention about myself.  

I've learned that old habits die hard.  I've had to let go of the "do school at home" idea I had in my head and learn to be FLEXIBLE.  If you know me, you are probably laughing.  Engineers don't do flexible well; at least this one doesn't.  

I've found myself thinking outside the box; finding new ways to engage the kids in learning without them actually knowing that's what I'm doing.  I am a "stay in the box" person; but making sure the kids don't get discouraged when they don't grasp something has catapulted me outside the box and into a realm I am not very familiar with.   
With our first year coming to an end it is time to plan for the upcoming year.  Planning is something I do well.  As my poor husband will tell you (and my friends will attest) I can research anything ad nauseum.  I have been evaluating what we used this year, determining what worked, what didn't and looking at new curriculum for the upcoming year.

Instead of paper/pen; I have a spreadsheet with a tab for each of the kids; with all the subjects I want to cover in the upcoming year and the materials that can possibly work for us; where to purchase it, how much it will cost.  Have I mentioned I'm a planner?
During the endless hours I've spent researching while the laundry tumbles in the dryer; I've come to realize there is no curriculum that will ever fully satisfy me.  Even the ones we bought that I was certain I could just pull out of the box and implement, I have tweaked to fit us.  I'm guessing most homeschool families do the tweaking because that's the whole point of homeschooling.  Being able to customize the material to fit your needs is one of the reasons we do this.

I have narrowed down math, language arts and history and found materials I'm happy with.  I'm sure there will be tweaking; and adding other sources to make it more complete.  Art and Music is one I'm going to venture out and plan on my own.  Shouldn't be that hard, right?  I'm going to try and follow our history curriculum and discuss art/music from that period; so at least I have a road map.
However, when it comes to science; the engineer in me simply isn't satisfied with what I've found.  Either it is outrageously expensive; too simplistic in its approach, too boring.  I want the kids to be excited about science as I was when I was their age.  Science has to be experienced.  Yes, there are terms to learn, and plenty of reading; but it has to be fun!  That is the only way they will want to stick with it (and I'm secretly hoping to be raising future scientists but that's a post for another day).
So I think I will be putting together this year's curriculum for the boys at least.  They want to learn about animals/bugs (I'm guessing this is universal for boys?).  I've found a few books to help me piece together something fun and still complete for them.  

As for my girl, 7th grade is tough (in all possible ways).  I have found a few resources I'm still researching.  I want to build a foundation for the high school science and still make it fun.  This is my artsy child (dance and piano are her passions) so I have a bigger challenge selling her to science and math. 

So that's what's been happening in my world.  We have been schooling at home, schooling on the road, going to the movies, attending concerts, breathing tons of pollen while enjoying some time at the park.  It seems we are endlessly on the road, even more so now that when the kids were in regular school!  They have been making new friends, spending time with old ones; and adjusting beautifully to this homeschooling adventure.