I like our new curriculum. [understatement]
I like learning TOGETHER. Oh, I'd heard about unit studies. But they sounded like too much work. A couple of summers we did fun things like A Trip Around the World or My Body all together, when I wasn't pressured to make sure the kids were all learning X amount of stuff, in every subject, per quarter. I didn't have the time to put together my own unit studies, and I'm sure I would have felt like what I was doing was never "enough." With MFW, there are weekly plans to follow, so I know we're getting it all done. We're also doing a lot more FUN stuff. Between the projects in Global Art and the tasty tidbits in Eat Your Way Around the World, we are getting more hands on with our learning than we have in years.
These things never happened with our old curriculum. Yes, I believe it's a GOOD curriculum. Yes, it's Bible based, and I love that. Yes, there are character lessons built in. Zachary and Annaliese and Samuel all used it first through 8th grades and turned out fine. I feel like, with one exception, it prepared them well for "real" high school. (That exception being creative writing skills.) But we didn't have the cohesiveness that we have now.
Homeschool, as with most parenting decisions, is fraught with opportunities to second-guess yourself. In the early years, I played around with a couple of other major brand name curriculum options. But trying to teach multiple subjects to multiple students on multiple levels... well, I don't multiply that well. So I reverted to default, the curriculum I'd used when I was in private school as a teen.
And you know what? It worked for us. Once my kids could read, it was self taught workbooks that they could do with minimal supervision. During the years where I was pregnant and chasing a toddler and a preschooler (and there were several of those years, lol) using an easy-for-mom curriculum was the only way we got school done.
But I missed the signs that it was no longer working for us. We ended up hating school. All of us, students and teacher alike. I regret that. I regret not realizing that I could have changed things up sooner. We would have avoided so much burnout.
This morning, I was reading about a first year homeschooler whose curriculum choice was Not Working. It was a painful reminder of how boxed in I was by my curriculum decisions.
If I had one piece of advice to show for my 14+ years of homeschooling, I would tell newbies:
Research your options, but don't make yourself crazy. Once you've made your choice, give it a really good try before deciding you don't like it. If you've made an effort, and you've tweaked a little, and it still, it's Just Not Working, don't be afraid to scrap it and move on. Often, with a purchased curriculum, you can recoup some of your costs by selling the teachers manuals or other non consumable components. Don't be so tied to your initial choice that you lose sight of the love of learning.
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