Initially, the idea of choosing a homeschooling curriculum felt really overwhelming to me. Some people love the thrill of making decisions when there are a plethora of options. They enjoy pondering whether eggshell or ecru is the best color for their living room walls. I'm not one of those people. I find too many choices to be stressful. I vacillate. I doubt myself. Oh dear, how would I ever choose the right curriculum for my kids who mean so much to me?! Surprisingly, it came together pretty seamlessly. It was exciting! Fun, even!
I started with a Waldorf homeschooling class. I've been drawn to Waldorf philosophy since those long convos with my friends back when Jude was a babe. If nothing else, I could incorporate some of what I learned into my days with Evie.
From that class, I learned I actually don't resonate with many of Rudolf Steiner's philosophies. Still I like a lot of what Waldorf education represents: a better late than early approach to learning, an emphasis on creativity, fables and fairy tales, handwork, music and art, a focus on rhythm, spending lots of time outdoors and in nature, limiting screen time and allowing lots of time for unstructured play. Yet, I don't believe these philosophies belong only to Waldorf education.
There was one entire session of the class devoted to rhythm and that was so helpful. Also, the class gave me the confidence that homeschooling could work for our family. The teacher encouraged us that this could be a natural extension of what we already do. We love to do things together as a family from art time, to nightly read alouds, to weekend hikes. I've always been my kids' teacher.
Meanwhile, I had my own personal sherpa (as Dan calls her) guiding me through the mountainous terrain of homeschool curriculum: Rachel from Stitched in Color. I 'met' Rachel last summer when I participated in her Handstitched class. It was fantastic. I was/am impressed by how creative she is while remaining so well-read, thorough and practical. That's a unique combination! She writes a series on her blog called Homeschool Chronicles. Reading it, I was drawn to her homeschooling style and emailed her asking a few questions. She was so generous with her time. We exchanged lots of emails and had a couple of phone conversations, too. In the end, in addition to feeling so grateful, I suggested she create an Intro to Homeschooling class. And guess what? She did! I love people like that - people who just go for it! It's so inspiring! If you have any interest in homeschooling, I recommend you check out the class (here), I know it's going to be fantastic... and it starts tomorrow!
So, here's what we've settled on thus far.
For Indigo, we chose Oak Meadow. Oak Meadow could be considered Waldorf-inspired. It incorporates the things I love about Waldorf philosophy, without including the things I don't. It's mainstream enough that it meets the requirements of even the strictest states. Indigo is an incredibly artistic child and this curriculum seems like it was made for her. It's also open-and-go, meaning all of the lessons are planned out for me, which was a must. We do plan to supplement the math portion of the curriculum with Singapore Math.
Oak Meadow was not a good fit for Jude. He's doesn't enjoy drawing or art very much, even though he's incredibly creative when it comes to things like legos or snap circuits. That's the great part about homeschooling. I can choose a curriculum that suits his learning style and his temperament. Our style for Jude turned out to be eclectic. Rather than sticking with one complete curriculum, we chose what we felt was best for him in each subject area. We plan to use Singapore Math. Singapore Math is a rigorous math program, based on the national math curriculum in Singapore. After this curriculum was introduced in Singapore, students experienced a dramatic improvement in math proficiency demonstrated by international assessments.
For Language Arts we settled on Michael Clay Thompson Grammer, Vocabulary, Poetry and Writing. This language arts curriculum is rigorous yet also creative and fun. We plan to alternate one month of MCT Language Arts with one month of Brave Writer- the Arrow. We've chosen this handwriting program. We're leaning toward Sequential Spelling for spelling. I'm thinking I'll work from Indigo's social studies, science and health curriculum and adapt it to Jude's level.
Spirituality is central to our family. We pray together every night at dinner. Even Iris joins us, which is the cutest thing ever. We sponsor three kids through Compassion International. That has been an amazing experience for our family. Our Compassion kids write to us about how they would like us to pray for them. We try to do that at dinner time. We also read from a kids' bible and really love this one. We plan to continue doing what we're doing in that regard. I'd like to add some memorization of longer Scripture passages in the mix, too. I think the Beatitudes would be a great place to start.
So that is where we find ourselves today. I plan to be flexible. If something doesn't work for our family, we can change it. If you've been there, done that and have advice for a newbie like me, I'd love to hear it! :)