Monday, March 26, 2007

Homeschooling with a Complete Curriculum

Spring. The time of year that students get antsy to begin their summer vacation, and the time that homeschool moms begin planning the next school year. It seems as though every major city has a homeschool convention and curriculum fair. There are so many choices. If you are anything like me, it becomes overwhelming.

Let me start out by telling you why we homeschool. First, with God's grace we are trying to raise godly children. We want our children to be planted firmly in their faith. We want them to know what we believe, and why. We do not want someone pushing an agenda that we may not believe in. The second reason that we homeschool is because study after study has shown that students do much better when the curriculum can be taught at a pace that suits the child. If they grasp a concept quickly, we move on quickly. If they are slow to understand, we can take our time and go over principles again until they master the concept. This is a beautiful thing. It takes so much stress off of the children. Third, we homeschool because our children are able to learn various life skills at the same time they are learning "reading, writing, and arithmetic." Not only do they complete studies in the typical school subjects, but they learn how to run a home. These are skills that many people are lacking today. They are assigned daily chores, can cook meals, do laundry, and care for the sick. They know how to garden, cut grass, and make general repairs. Lastly, we homeschool because we LOVE to be around our children. I've heard so many moms long for the first day of school because the children are driving them crazy. That is not the case here. I don't think that I am a better mom than any of these women. Perhaps their children drive them crazy because they have picked up bad habits and character traits at school.

Am I qualified to teach my children? This is a question that I hear very often. I've had high school teachers tell me that they would not feel qualified to teach their children at home. I wonder, how should this make me feel? Why do they feel they are qualified to teach 25-30 children if they don't feel qualified to teach one, two, or four? My answer when someone asks me this is, "Yes. I am qualified." I do NOT claim to know all that there is, but the beauty of homeschooling is that we can learn together. I can read, research, and ask questions. Are you thinking about homeschooling and wondering, "Will I be able to teach?" Have you potty-trained your child? Did you teach them how to eat alone, dress themselves, make their beds, tie their shoes, and so on? You have been teaching them since they were born. God entrusted YOU with this child. With His strength and grace, you CAN do it.

That all being said, we need materials to teach. As I stated above, the choices are endless. It can be very confusing. Everything looks so good. You hear wonderful things, buy the curriculum, get it home, start using it, and hate it. Or, you LOVE it. I want to make it very clear that I am in no way trying to discourage anyone. I want to encourage you, dear reader. If I say that I have tried something and I do not like it, but you do, GREAT. Really. We are all individuals, and what does not work for you may be my favorite thing. And, what I have tried with no success, you may love. That's okay. The purpose of this post is to give you ideas, and my opinions. That's all that they are. Nothing is written in stone. If you love something, stick with it. I am not wanting to make anyone second guess what they are using.

For today, I thought that I'd give you my opinion on complete curriculums. This means that one company supplies the material for every subject to be covered. This can be such a blessing, especially for new homeschoolers, or moms with many of children. There are many companies out there who schedule each day of the year, taking away all guesswork for the mother. My very favorite complete curriculum is Sonlight. This is a very rigorous, but highly enjoyable way to learn if your family loves reading. Each day of the year is planned out completely. The children seem to learn without excessive testing, and everything is very hands-on. We used this company for about 4 years. It took us around 5-6 hours everyday to complete our lessons. I suffer from severe migraines at times, and could not keep up. That being said, if my health were perfect, this is my curriculum of choice. I still scour the catalog, and we read most of the books that are recommended for the appropriate grade levels. Other noteworthy companies are Alpha Omega, Covenant Home, Veritas Press, Konos, Christian Liberty Press, and ABeka. We are currently using Switched on Schoolhouse by Alpha Omega for the majority of our learning. I do supplement , though. Veritas Press recommends most of the same books as Sonlight, but there are a few differences.

I tend to think that more is better. That being my philosophy, I tend to like the curriculums that expect more, cover more material, etc. For that reason, popular as it is, Abeka would be my least favorite out of these curriculums. I tried using it and found that there was not enough material for my liking. I felt like I had to do more work by going to the library to supplement every unit. As I said though, it is a very popular company, and it does have some strong points. I'll discuss that later in the week.

Well, that's enough for today. I hope that I haven't confused you more. Tomorrow we'll take a look at English/grammar.


Jennifer said...

Great post on homeschooling! I homeschool too and have for about 7 official years (since my oldest started kindergarten). I'm so happy that they have always been home with me so I couldn't agree with you more!
I'm using Sonlight this year for the first time and am really enjoying it (most of it!). The best part is how it has kept me on tract with our Bible reading. I love the schedule!
I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog!

Karen said...

Tracy, I agree wholeheartedly about if I am qualified to teach my children. Why do people think that your teaching stops when they turn 5.
I like your choices for schooling, as well. We use Abeka, Bob Jones, Mystery of History, etc. I try to teach to her style. We also assign chores, and teach cooking. She is learning about the lawn mower this year (practice riding) and will be mowing this summer. That is if she can beat me to it! I love to mow.
I'm looking forward to reading more!

Karen said...

I forgot! I LOVE your picture. It's nice to have a face with a name!

Kelli said...

Great post, Tracy! We use Sonlight and love it but like you, find it very time consuming. Fortunately, Grace and Emily can do alot of the same work! I just love all the books..such great stories!

Trella said...

Great post. I also homeschool and use and love Sonlight. I love the schedule. I have tried putting it together like they do, but have realized it is just better to have them do it:)

Emily said...

Hi there!

I found your blog from Anna S.'s, and glad I did! I am a Christian single 21 year-old woman, but when I (God-willing) get married and have children, I definitely want to homeschool them. Reading your reasons why you homeschool totally make sense!

Thank you also for the homeschooling ciriculum suggestions and review. It's good for me to start thinking about these things now so that I'm prepared for the future!

God bless you, and I hope to visit again soon. Feel free to pop into my blog as well :)

In His care,


Anna S said...

I know this might seem out of context, but sending you an email didn't work for some reason. Do you have any strategies and tips you could share on studying history? I tutor a teenager and we're having trouble with history. Somehow, I fail to convey the big picture, and she sees every chapter as an isolated event.

Anna S said...

Hi Tracy,
Thank you for your reply. I still can't email you, so I'm posting here.
Yeah, we've been using time lines. She remembers alright what came first and what came next, but it's difficult for her to understand how what came first was the CAUSE of what happened next, and so she sees everything as a chain of random events.
Anyway... if you think of something... I will appreciate your advice very much!