Thursday, April 2, 2009

Planning for Homeschool Convention Time

As the time for the convention approaches I find myself reviewing questions to ponder rather than a shopping list. The reason for this is simple. I can create 85 different shopping lists, but unless I know WHY I'm homeschooling and WHY the books work for that then I might as well just bag the list and stay home.

  1. Why am I homeschooling? Suffice it to say that I am rather a proud person. I could recite back to you many of my test scores, grades in high school and college, and all the subsequent reading I have done. Nevertheless, I have to humble myself and realize I am NOT homeschooling to provide a better education, rather I am homeschooling so as to be able to teach my children the ways of the Lord, train them up as godly young men and women and to encourage them to use scripture as the measure against which all material is measured.

  2. If I am homeschooling to honor the Lord and to teach my children His ways how should I look at their education? Well, although there are a myriad of books telling us this or that method works best, or this or that curriculum will produce future leaders of America and even the world, I must look at each child. Early in our homeschooling journey my husband and I agreed that we would look at each child each year. That meant that we were trying to remain open what was best for that child at that time even if it meant that we looked like "failures" or homeschool parent drop-outs. So, over the past 17 years of homeschooling we have been involved in The Potter's School, a small Christian school in the community, co-ops and work at home. One year even found MMH eschewing math books altogether in order to focus on music, weaving, stitching and knitting. (She needed to learn to recognize patterns in order to move forward in math.)

  3. Once I know why I am homeschooling and that I am actually homeschooling that year how do I know what books to choose? Well, a wise friend once shared that every summer not only did she set academic goals for each child but character goals as well. What I found was that once I looked at character goals my choices in curriculum often followed quite naturally.

  4. How do I know where to start? Well, ask these questions: How do I must enjoy teaching? How does my child learn most effectively? In other words, do I like to lecture? Do I like to read from a set transcript? Does my child like workbooks? Does he or she learn best intuitively through hands-on experiences? This will guide you as to what type of curriculum you might choose. Of course expense might also factor in. I was quite excited about a new curriculum till I saw the price tag. Now you might think price should be no object, but in this case a high price tag kept me praying and searching and led to an incredible choice for my daughter. Be ready to see what the Lord has for you to do.

  5. Pray, pray and pray. I know that's not a question, but start praying, which ought to have been first on the list, and continue praying through decision making, purchasing, planning and educating. The Lord will not leave you foundering if you come to Him humbly asking for His guidance.

Okay, so now you have your 5 main items dealt with. Does that mean a list magically appears? Not really... Now you begin the catalog search. My favorites are as follows:

Now, you may note that of that list three of the items are actually full curriculum rather than a general catalog. However, the readings lists in the last three are so complete that I compare and contrast my plan against theirs in order to be sure I am providing a well-balanced academic plan for each child.

And, let me note, I want the catalogs IN HAND, rather than on the computer so I can read, reread, mark pages, fold corners, take notes, and carry them around for a while while I'm working on the process. Currently this stack has been sitting in my living room, family room, dining room or car for the past 2 months as we've been praying, discussing and searching what to do.

Now comes the fun part. Make a list. And, rather than a "set" list, put some alternatives that piqued your curiosity. I "know" I'll be using Cornerstones curriculum once we reach high school, but in case I'm wrong (hardly ever happens you know! grin) I have others listed which I can view at the convention. See, that's the beauty. There are all sorts of write ups, but until you hold it in your hands, see the set up, read the pages, look at the plan and all the rest you don't really know if that's what you want. And, while you're there looking PRAY, PRAY, PRAY some more.

Okay, now go to the convention, look, enjoy and let the Lord lead you.

Shalom, Kim

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So glad you stopped by for a visit. I look forward to reading your ruminations. (I like playing with words!)
Blessings, Kim