It is our business to…spend a part of our lives in increasing our knowledge of nature and art, of literature and man, of the past and present. This is one way in which we become greater persons, and the more a person is, the better he will do whatever piece of special work falls to his share.
Charlotte M. Mason, Ourselves, p. 48
I had to laugh when humblemama asked me about my curriculum plans for next year, stating that I still had last year’s (2006/2007) on my blog. Silly me. In all my attention to detail about changing the list of books and tools that we use, I forgot to change the year! So, what was listed as my 2006/2007 curriculum is actually my 2007/2008 curriculum. Thanks, Kysha!
I believe that one of the reasons I never picked up on the year distinction was that my curriculum really didn’t change that much, and it probably won’t on next year. I once heard a homeschool conference speaker say that all you need to educate your children is a Bible, a math book, and a library card. Then there’s one of my favorite pearls of wisdom (I’ve even posted it before) from a fountain of homeschooling wisdom in our local community, Yoshika Lowe:
I think that although it is not intuitively obvious, less is more in homeschooling, and more is just more for the sake of doing more. It may make you feel better about the volume of work your child has sifted through, but it does not mean they have a better education. You are not homeschooling so that you can mimic the public school. It does not work for them, so it definitely will not be productive for you and your children.
I have treasured these words and used them as my personal guideline when I’m faced with the decision of what to buy and what to leave on the shelf. Over the years, I have gone full circle and back again, paring down to the basics, then adding the “one more thing” that promises to take our learning to the next level. You add and add, then it becomes overwhelming for you and for the kids.
Though I am constantly inspired, but challenged, by Charlotte Mason’s educational approach, I am understanding more every day the importance of an atmosphere that fosters learning, rather than just a table of textbooks and workbooks. Just today, the kids were working at the table when two warblers flew in out of nowhere to bird feeders that had seen no action in weeks. Almost instinctively, everything stopped. The kids ran to get cameras and binoculars, and I scrambled to find Peterson’s Field Guide. Nothing is more exciting to be around on a school day than academic enthusiasm. Even the youngest grabbed her toy camera and, with all the imagination of a small child, took pictures with all her might. Though we definitely have a routine and a certain body of work to produce each day, I want to be sure there is room for moments like this, and the excitement that comes with it.
What will change? I am continuously looking for ways to get the Bible past their heads and into their hearts. Keri Mae has a tremendous Bible study method she uses with her kids. I also looked at www.padfield.com, another gem from lindafay, who landed in Texas, of all places. I am also seriously considering what to use with my youngest, who will be a kindergartner next year. We are currently using Abeka, and I’m so excited that she is beginning to read one vowel words. Yet I’m noticing a problem that was pointed out to me, oddly enough, by a Bob Jones representative. Because of the way Abeka’s phonics program is taught, focusing on the “front” blends of the words rather than the latter end, her reading of the word c-a-t, as an example, sounds like “cuh-a-tuh,” and we have to work on putting it together in a way that makes sense. Bob Jones teaches the “back” blend, for lack of a better term. Using this method, she learned the blend at. With that foundation, she can easily get c-at, f-at, r-at, b-at, p-at. I struggled with Bob Jones’ products given their history, which included a written policy forbidding interracial dating. I have heard representatives explain that this policy was in place to solve an issue that Asian parents had when sending their daughters to the University. Apparently these young students were marrying white men and, consequently, not returning to their homeland. Thus, the policy that very quietly sent Asian women back home with a degree screamed racism for those of us who scratch our heads in wonder at who would be comfortable okaying such a policy. Is this another lesson in forgiveness? Do I want to spend money this way? Of course there are tons of other options, but I’m staying within my comfort zone with her fundamentals as she is the only one of the three that will not have been taught in the early years by someone else. Here are some other thoughts I had on buying curriculum.
Before my post becomes too long, I’d love to hear what you’re doing next year, for those that care to share. God bless you.