5.19.2013

Choosing a Homeschooling Curriculum

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!

our days

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.

our days
our days

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.

our days

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.  

our days

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!

our days

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.

our days
our days

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.

our days

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.

our days

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!  :)


13 comments:

  1. I'm so very excited about your new adventure, Rachel. We'll have to keep in touch and commiserate about how our year goes. I recently ordered the MCT program too. Thanks for sharing that with me!

    Your pictures here are amazing, btw. Such treasures!

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  2. Fun! Picking curriculum is my favorite part. It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into your choices. We use Singapore for math and love it. Homeschooling is different from school, but it is full of blessings too! We implement a more Charlotte Mason-classical style for my kids. Can I just link to one of my favorite homeschool blogs? She has had lots of good thoughts and posts lately, especially regarding good books. http://www.amongstlovelythings.com/

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    1. Thank you so much, Meg! I can't wait to check it out!!!

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  3. I just love watching folks new to homeschooling. I schooled my 4 from K to 12 . . . and loved it. We did a lot of "life-school" and learning directed by what delighted each child. (DIVERSE delights, I might mention. Each has chosen a different career: Spanish Teacher, Physician's Assistant, Architect, and Computer/Math.) I would like to suggest you look at "Five in a Row". I really loved using this when I had 4 kids at my "school" who were under 8 years old. We merely read one book five days in a row. Each day we talked about a few different things surrounding the book. Literary Devises(rhyming,alliteration,repetition) counting, art, science, geography, and so much else. (Have you ever read the book "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World?) We used other curriculum too - but I love Five in a Row!

    And I love to see all the lovely things you create that you share on your blog!!!

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    1. Dear Cathy,
      It sounds like you did a fantastic job nurturing a love of learning in each of your four children, as well as helping them to discovered their personal strengths. That is a gift! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I look forward to looking into the curriculum you suggested.
      Many blessings!

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  4. Wow, this is such an adventure! I was homeschooled for a while, but it was before all of the great programs that are currently out there ... I basically read a ton of books and did math with my scientist dad. I learned a ton, but that's my personality - I'm always learning a ton. So it worked pretty well for me! But my sporty, more extroverted sister was not as into it. Like you say, different strokes!

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    1. I am the same way. I love learning! I am always reading, learning and trying new things. Sadly, I really didn't realize how much I loved learned until toward the end of college. But thankfully I discovered it at all!

      Yes I was concerned about Jude who is more extroverted. In fact, initially we were going to only homeschool Ind and not Jude. But as our plans unfolded, he became more and more interested in getting on the homeschool train! Which I am thrilled about! But if it turns out that it doesn't work for them, then I am a-ok going back to the traditional school route. :)

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  5. Oh, the Jesus Story Book Bible is our favorite by far! We read it for post-family dinner devotions and all three of the kids - from 4 - 13 - enjoy it!
    Good for you for homeschooling! A leap of faith, but one that will be worth the effort!

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    1. Isn't it awesome?! The first time I experienced it was via CD on our way to an Ethiopian adoption event in Austin. We played it for the kids so we could talk, but I started listening to it and Dan and I stopped talking and were wowed by how beautiful it was. Truly, it left me teary at spots and I'm not really a crier at all. It's amazing. We also have Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, which isn't as good, in my opinion.

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    2. I hadn't heard of the follow-up book Thoughts to Make YOur Heart Sing. Although perhaps not quite as good, I'll have to give it a peek. Always looking for good devotionals for my two girls, though as you said, it's hard to beat the original!

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  6. Wow!! I missed this post! I am so happy to hear you & Dan will be home educating your children! We have been at it for over 10 years. It's an adventure and I continue to learn right along with them!

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  7. I love that you are using what is best for each child. Isn't it great to be able to custom make the curriculum that fits each child? Since we first started homeschooling we use Time4Learning (www.Time4Learning.com) as our core because the online curriculum works great for my visual learner. I love it because the lessons are planned for me. I agree with you that a pre-planned curriculum is great! I really do not want to spend time "planning" to teach my child when I could actually be spending the time with her. I was not a pro-homeschooler but once it was evident that homeschooling was really the best choice for us, I embraced homeschooling, and honestly love it. We are at 7 years and counting! I hope that you enjoy the homeschooling journey with your children for many years to come!

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    1. thanks so much for the sweet and encouraging comment. it means so much to me! i am totally with you on planning my own curriculum. i could see how it could be fun, but there just aren't enough hours in the day... :)

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