Thursday, February 3, 2011

Helpful Homeschool Hints - Stick and Toss

One of the first things you realize when you start (or are considering) homeschooling: there are a lot of options out there. Tons. Books full. Catalogs full. Convention centers full. Blogs full.

I have my opinions about what is "best", of course I do. But I haven't even come close to trying everything, despite being homeschooled myself.

So, what's a homeschool mom to do? Two things:

1. If it's working: stick with it. As long as you can, through as many levels / grades as you can. For us, one example would be Jessie Wise's First Language Lessons. Polly started with the book pictured above (they've since updated it) in First Grade. She is now almost finished with the Fourth Grade book. This consistency has given her fluency and familiarity with a subject some people find difficult. Is it repetitive? Sometimes. We skip things (gasp!) if it seems like overkill. I don't follow the scripts in the books as if I were some mindless curriculum following robot. But, for the most part, we stick with what works. So, stick with what works for you and your child, even if every other homeschool mom you've ever heard of doesn't like it. (This is not likely, but it could happen.)

2. If it's not working: toss it. It doesn't matter if it's the most highly rated book ever, if every homeschool blog you read adores it, or if you (sigh) paid big money for it. If it's not working, it goes and you should not feel guilty about it. Sell it or pass it on to a friend, because even if it's not a good fit for you and your child, it might be for someone else. Or, if you have more than one child, you could save it and see if the next child benefits from it. You never know. But for goodness sake, do not torture yourself or your child with something that brings everyone to tears. (Surely that hasn't happened to just us, right? Please tell me we're not alone!)

Want to know a secret? I was homeschooled. (That's not the secret) And my mom tried lots of different curriculum (still not the secret). And with one exception (Saxon Math), I don't use anything my mom used with me. (I guess that's the secret. Are you shocked?)

There are several reasons for this. I think there are better things available now, for one. And it's nothing personal against my mom (Love you, Mom!).  I think one of the benefits of being a second generation homeschooler is getting to talk about this stuff with my mom, look at what she's using with my younger brother, and steal borrow books from her. Because, after all, curriculum differences or no, I think I turned out pretty well and there isn't a textbook in the world that can guarantee that result.

This post is linked to Helpful Homeschool Hints at Many Little Blessings.

4 comments:

Martianne said...

Oh, I so agree with the stick and toss even though I am still at the pre-k/k level. I came in 100% Montessori, but for a number of reasons, realized I could not do Montessori alone justice, so I take what I can from it (which is wonderful and much thanks to Karen Tyler's awesome online course and other resources) and seek things that work elsewhere, too. I love the eclectic, success-bound nature of sticking and tossing. :)

Julie said...

Well said! My oldest boys did very well with Abeka math...like you pointed out, each year built on the previous one and by the end they had a solid foundation. But it simply hasn't worked for my younger two, and I've had to switch to something else. Hate to part with an old friend, but gotta know when to let go lol. Great post. :)

Karabeth Baptist Homeschool said...

(Love you, too.)

We really need to write that book, you know? I agree with everything you said.

One of the reasons to homeschool is to tailor a system to the child and not the other way around. And yes, the options available today are astounding compared to what they were when we had to adapt traditional and packaged programs to fit our family's needs. I rejoice to see the changes and am thankful to have them available while schooling The Bear.

Btw, that's one of the things that makes our story so unique. There are other second generation homeschooling families out there, but how many of them are two generations that are STILL homeschooling? Just a thought.

Lori said...

Oh! I did steal your idea!! I actually read an article as well that I thought was a little overly harsh about curriculum hopping, so it must have all stuck together.

I do remember reading this post last week because of the fact that you are a homeschool grad. I have grandchildren, and I wonder what my daughters will do with them. I know they will make their own choices that are different than mine as well.

You are right that there are so many great things these days- many more available than when my girls were homeschooling. We still have some "tried and true" things that I used waaaayyy back then though.

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