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January 24, 2013

The Ever Changing Homeschool Curriculum

One awesome family losing sight of the shore…and searching for the next laundromat!

Guest Blogger Mary Carlton

As many of you seasoned homeschooling moms (and dads) know, the homeschool curriculum is a growing, changing beast.  That dark, negative voice that we attempt to suppress on a daily basis sometimes breaks through to the surface creating a blanket of doubt and fear.  Are we pushing them too hard? Are we not challenging them enough?  Are they falling behind in Math?  Should they be reading at a higher level?  These questions, and many others, lead us on an almost constant quest to find the perfect homeschooling curriculum.  Well, my friends, I have a nugget of wisdom that I am willing to share with you (and yes, it’s free!).

There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum.

*GASP*  Shocking eh?

The fear of failure is a massive motivator.  But when we, as homeschooling parents, take a look at what and who we would be failing, it creates a deep seated panic down in your belly.  For me, it’s like falling from a great height, knowing you are going to crash, but still having time to reflect on where it went wrong…it drives me to distraction.  I am constantly wondering if I’m doing it all right, or all wrong.  This fear has created a revolving door in regard to our courses of study. However, after a measly two years, I think I just might have pieced together a curriculum that suits our family rhythm.

When we started homeschooling we lived in a house.  I went to the resale homeschool bookstore and grabbed a few basics in the three R’s.  This worked well for about a month and then the ugly beast took control and I went searching.  We added in a few more subjects and I felt a bit better about what we were doing throughout the day.  When we decided to hit the road, we also decided to revamp the manner in which we studied.  We wanted to try to go digital with everything.  So, off I went in search of a curriculum that would help us do that.  I looked at boxed sets, they were too heavy (weight is an issue in the camper) and too expensive for us. I also looked at the curriculums that offered 100% online courses.  The only thing I worried about with that was how I would handle it if we didn’t have internet.  I eventually came across a curriculum that seemed to be the perfect fit.  It was all on a CD which would allow me to print anything I needed or just use the computer.  The library of classic literature that came with it was astounding.  The entire curriculum was based on reading, which we all love, and pushing the kids to be self-reliant.  Sold!

A few months went by and I realized that I needed to be able to have a book in my hand, along with a schedule for each subject, in order for me to feel in control of our progress.  So, off I went searching again.  And through a few trials and errors, I arrived at the curriculum we now use in our roadschooling family.  It’s a hodge podge of items that seem to work well with the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

As I look back at what we went through to arrive at this point, I realize that it’s not a curriculum that I was searching for.  It was more about finding what made me comfortable in my position as teacher rather than the subjects and courses I was teaching.  You see, kids really can learn anywhere.  It can be by reading something in a book, watching a video, visiting a museum, or simply exploring the outdoors.  Along that same line of understanding, parents can teach in a multitude of ways as well.  We can buy lesson plans, use boxed sets that have all materials included, use the online/virtual schools that are very hands off, or we can pull together daily and weekly lessons from local resources as we see fit.  I realized that my job wasn’t to necessarily teach them science, or fractions, or diagramming sentences.  My job is to teach them how to find information while still encouraging that love of learning new things.  And for me, the best way to do that is to have a scheduled way to measure progress.  I can see, daily, what excites them, interests them, and bores them.  For me, not having to create lesson plans allows me to direct my focus on other aspects of our traveling lives. Such as finding locations that jive with their interests J Not having to worry about where a library is, wondering if we’re going to have internet, or figuring out what comes next takes a load of weight off of my shoulders and frees me to simply enjoy the day with them.  Sometimes, I find myself learning right beside them!

So no, there is no perfect curriculum.  And realizing that has helped me figure out what works.  Once I figured out the “how”, then the “what” followed along quite well.  The kids have a workable schedule that encourages them to be self-sufficient, while allow me to see, at a glance, where they are in their day.  And we all know that a happy and relaxed Momma means a happy and relaxed family!

Information regarding roadschooling can be found here.

You can read more of Mary’s blog at http://travellingawesomes.com.

Fun–and fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson


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