Friday, July 1, 2011

Using a Curriculum

I have come to the conclusion that I am very bad at using a programmed curriculum.  I really tried, last year, and we actually managed to get through the year using an all-inclusive curriculum.  It was a great idea at first.  It was actually the kind of curriculum I would have made up, myself.  Language arts, history, geography and science were all tied in together.  The problem came when it came time to actually implement it, every day, for 180 days.  Some of it worked well.  However, the writing portions proved to be too much for my meticulous boy.  He writes very well, but it takes him a while because he is extremely concerned in making it look perfect.  I'm not sure how much of this to dissuade him about.  Obviously, tracing over the letters until they are all exactly the same thickness of line is a little out there, but wanting it to look neat and correct can't be a bad thing.  So, we skipped some of the writing.  Then, there were the extra activities which looked great, but we didn't have time to do.  By the end of the year, we were down to reading the books and doing maybe one other activity a day, if that.  We had more days of curriculum left than we had days in the school year, because some days had been used up for co-op or field trips.  I don't really think it's necessary to add days over the 180 required, so we sort of sped through the last part.

So, we managed to finish the school year, and actually learned something in the process.  My plan for next year is to use curricula for math and grammar, and to read a lot of books about early America up through the Revolutionary War and the beginning of the U.S. Government.  Oh, and to use some of the science kits we have collected, and learn about the 50 states.

My next problem is Vacation Bible School.  A friend and I are organizing this for our church this year.  They haven't had a VBS in the past few years, so we are starting from scratch.  So, of course, we purchased a curriculum.  The problem is, we didn't like most of it once we got it.  So, we are starting over using the basic outline, but adding in and taking away at will.  So, back to having problems with packaged curricula!

I am still working on my own curriculum of New York State.  I have written and revised, and have lately been adding more sections.  I originally wrote the book and activity list for my son to do, and much of the information was centered around our section of New York, because we could see things first hand.  So, I'm trying to add in some other information, which involves reading even more books, as I don't want to include any that I haven't seen, myself.  The good thing is that it should be a well-rounded curriculum when it is finished.  I am hoping it will be useful to people, and will not overwhelm them with too many options.  We didn't even manage to do everything on my list in one year.  In fact, as I'm researching more for the curriculum, I have been going over it with Rory.  I don't think that learning about your state has to be done all at once.  In fact, we should keep learning about everything throughout our lives.

That is one of the best things I've found about Homeschooling.  I can learn alongside my kids.  Yes, I graduated from high school and college, but learning does not stop when you get a degree.  My grandmother used to say "You can learn something new every day," and I believe her.  I want my kids to know the joy of learning throughout their lives, and what better way to teach them, than to lead by example?  So, I'll go on planning and tweaking and learning, and using a curriculum when it works for us.  Hopefully, we will all learn in the process!

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