For a the last couple of years, I’ve been schooling the girls without a set curriculum. I’ve written lesson plans, gathered books, used the library, even purchased Maureen Wittmann’s phenomenal book that helps peg excellent books for your unit studies. I started this journey because I was using Seton (a fine institution!), and Big Girl would just bristle under all the workbook pages.
First, I branched out to Math-U-See so she could use manipulatives. As a kinesthetic learner, this was a great move for her. I use it with Little Girl, too, and she loves it as well, though she’s not as kinesthetic and doesn’t mind workbooks. (She’s like me in that respect. I loved my workbooks!)
Then I started using some other books and ideas, but since I’ve been working, it’s been harder and harder to get what I’d consider “enough” school done.
Now, one reason I haven’t completely lost it here is because the girls are voracious readers. And when I say voracious, I mean it in the most sincere form. We read bits and pieces of The Lord of the Rings to them while watching the movie, highlighting Catholic symbolism along the way. When the movies were through, Big Girl took a hold of the book herself and plowed through it in a week. (This wasn’t that surprising except for the speed at which she read it because she read The Hobbit – alone – when she was seven.) Little Girl easily reads CS Lewis’ Narnia books alone. I can’t keep them out of books. This alone has helped me, since so much learning can happen there. I keep plenty of classic literature for them to read.
Oh, and I’ve mentioned before that Shakespeare is our fun family reading as of late, right? We’ve read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Taming of the Shrew” and are now working on “Romeo and Juliet” before we read “Hamlet.”
Anyway, I feel really badly about how doing school in smaller chunks of time, around work, sports, ballet, library time, co-op, family trips, etc., etc., etc. is becoming more and more difficult. I’ve had less and less time lately to write good lesson plans. Big Girl starts sixth grade (!!) in the Fall, and I wanted to go with a full curriculum for her so I know she’s getting all she needs should she decide to go to college. So I searched, and looked at Kolbe and Catholic Heritage Curricula. CHC is very hands-on, with plenty of projects and ideas – and choices! – for Big Girl to select from. It seems like a perfect fit for my kinesthetic learner, and so Travel Man and I discussed the possibility of using it. It’s much pricier to go with a curriculum, but when I do, lesson plans are mostly done for me, too. This has been a big stumbling block for me, and will continue to be so until that stupid debt is paid off and I have to work. So, minus math and religion (I’m sticking with Seton for continuity reasons), I’m ripping off the band aid and buying a year’s worth of books for her.
But then there’s Little Girl, who is starting third grade this fall. She needs attention, too, and we discussed the idea of just going back to a full curriculum for her, as well, to make my life easier in regards to those pesky lesson plans. Again, pricier, but sanity-saving. Knowing how much she likes workbooks, we have decided to stay with Seton for her until I am able to quit working again.
For me, I would still dearly love to be literature-based, building units around what we read, but the horrible guilt I have been feeling over not doing enough for them is overwhelming. I know I am not supposed to be like school – public school, that is – but I have not been consistent enough. It is most definitely my vocation to homeschool the girls. Public school is just not an option here. But I need help for now. Having lessons laid out for me at this time will be a help.
With a little summer reading and finishing up the English books this summer, I know we’ll be set for using both CHC and Seton for the following school year. And, God willing, when that year is finished, I’ll be officially retired again and be able to do more unit studies.
Now, in the meantime, Travel Man has some interesting units of study he’d like to create for the girls, too. I’ll give assistance and ideas, but the unit will be his. If I can get him to do so, maybe he can post about it here. (Bug him about it if you want.) 😉 But I can think of several books that will fit in, and he’s been eyeing some grown-up-research books, too. Gosh, I’m thinking of some very cool projects the girls could do, too. What fun!
But anyway, this afternoon, we’ll leave for the IHM Conference in Chantilly, which actually starts Friday morning. And while I’m there, I’ll give myself a break and just get that Seton curriculum. Might pick up some extras (I’m thinking Theology of the Body for Teens so I’m ready to help Big Girl with that), but mostly, I’m sticking with the curriculum.
And while we’re there, we’ll be getting some serious spiritual food for the soul. Some of the talks given are difficult to chose from. For example, at the same time as Raymond Arroyo is speaking about living your faith in a Culture of Death (with ideas from the Holy Father and Mother Angelica!), Father Levis is speaking about papal encouragement for homeschoolers. It’s like trying to choose between the delicious grilled steak and the delectable seafood platter! Thank God for the recordings, which we can load into iTunes for later reference.
This gazelle business has been tough – it’s why I’m working at all – but it’s the reason that, in spite of having to purchase a new water heater and a car purchase looming on the horizon, we still had the money to have a spectacular weekend of celebration around Little Girl’s dance recital and First Holy Communion. And still have the money to purchase a full-out curriculum for each of the girls for the Fall. I’m forever grateful to the office buddy who first handed Travel Man that Dave Ramsey book.
Have a great weekend!