As most mother’s prepare for the first day of school so do we – only this year the first day of school rests squarely on my shoulders. I find myself swinging between giddy excitement and absolute terror. After spending several months reading books on homeschooling and attending workshops I have come to the startling realization that homeschool is a lot like having a baby – people can tell you what it is like but until you’ve done it you have no idea. The kids and I have been busy preparing the school room and although I wish I could tell you I bought all new furniture — I didn’t. My biggest investment was a $40 book sling that I bought for Harper off of Craig’s List. Most of my time, energy and money has been poured into organization and buying books. I’ve bought LOTS OF BOOKS.
As public school families discuss teacher and room assignments homeschool families talk about curriculum selection. The one advantage I have as an experienced teacher is the knowledge that all textbooks and curriculum seem fantastic during the planning stage before school starts, but can quickly turn to crap midway through a semester. At the end of the day each teacher picks books and curriculum that plays to their strengths. There are no “right” choices or some “perfect” curriculum that will magically teach any child. Sometimes, as a teacher, you are simply making the least worst decision. I thought I would share some of my curriculum choices.
Saxon Math: I wanted a very detailed, structured and specific math curriculum because it is my weakest link as a person. Saxon Math has come highly recommended and I like the fact that it has a two steps forward, one step back approach to math. There is a lot of repetition and building on skills.
The Story of the World: My mother-in-law purchased this set of history books and I went ahead and bought the workbooks to go along with them. These books teach history chronologically and with a classical bent. This most definitely plays to my educational background and I agree that history should be taught chronologically – it gets too confusing when bouncing around.
Language Arts: This is where I’m free-styling. With two degrees in English I feel pretty confident that I can teach my own children reading and writing. I didn’t buy a curriculum. I will use some Spalding with Max to help him progress with his reading and comprehension but overall I’m going to focus on a lot of reading books, a lot of oral and written book reports, and story starters.
Music: Lucy is taking violin lessons through the Music Institute of North Texas. Max will start playing recorder at home this year and we have some field trips planned to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Art: I have purchased two used art textbooks that we will be using in conjunction with the free lesson plans that the Dallas Museum of Art provides.
Handwriting: I’m also using a daily handwriting practice book for both of them. I have lefties. They need more practice.
Unit Studies: We are working our science into our unit studies which will include Outer Space, The Human Body and Dinosaurs – for the first semester.
Lucy is also taking dance classes and Max will join Boy Scouts this year. It will be a full year.
As a teacher there is joy in the planning stage of the school year. Pencils are sharpened. Bulletin boards are tidy. Lesson plans are neatly written out. The vision of the school year is pure and pristine. However, the reality of the school year crashes in and we do our best to dodge and weave – accommodating and modifying our plans along the way until the school year ends in a place we never could have foreseen. I know this truth and that is what frightens me.