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View Full Version : How do you make up your mind??



BPier12
05-17-2010, 09:43 AM
Color me :confused:!

For the better part of a week and a half I have been either chained to my computer or in the library checking out what is now an enormous pile of books. While I have narrowed down my ideas somewhat in the way of curriculum/method/philosophy etc., I still feel that I am no closer to actually choosing resources/materials than I was when I first started looking.

When you first started this process, how did you ever make up your mind about what to use? I've read enough to know that I should not expect everything that I pick will be the right thing nor should I expect everything to match my son's learning style (which I'm realizing after 8 years of him being in school, I'm not exactly sure what style he has...this makes me sad...). I don't see us using a boxed curriculum or using an entire web-based system either so I'm pretty sure that we will end up being eclectic (bordering on unschooling if my son has his way -- which he won't...LOL).

Am I being too uptight about this? I'm putting quite a bit of pressure on myself to get this all figured out before DS is out of school June 3.

Thanks for letting me vent.

jennywilliams
05-17-2010, 10:20 AM
I've been homeschooling my daughter for four years (starting in K), and it took at least half of that to figure out what her learning style was like. So if this is all new to you, I recommend not spending a fortune and diving into something huge and just finding something that you like for now and teach that for a year. Then, when you know how he learns better, adjust from there.

When I pick stuff, I tend to read about every possible non-Christian option, eliminating some, getting a good feeling for others. Then, when I have it narrowed down to the ones that look good, I read tons of reviews, and in the end I go with my gut. Good luck! It's a big job.

mjzzyzoff
05-17-2010, 10:23 AM
Beth,

I was overwhelmed at first as well, and I am in the same boat pulling an 8 yr old out of public school. The curriculum thread on here really helped me narrow down ideas, then I picked my favorites from each subject and read reviews. The reviews were so helpful! Many times I thought for sure I had found the perfect resource but a little way through reviews found a tidbit or two of information that made me rethink my choice. Too me, starting out, eclectic even makes the most sense although we are going to do a classical approach to history because THAT makes the most sense to me there. After this first year I figure we'll have a better idea of what works and what doesn't, and if I've totally blown it with my choices (which I really doubt) we'll have to work a little harder next year. Not the end of the world!

In terms of your start date and having it all figured out by then, I'm sure you have reasons but for us, we are taking a few weeks off and then only starting math. I've heard that's the hardest to pick up where you left off without a lot of review, and it's DS's worst subject anyway, so we are going to plug away at that through the summer as our introduction to homeschooling. We may add more in earlier, we may not, we'll see how it goes. We are also planning a bunch of fun & educational field trips and events for the summer, such as a trip to Gettysburg.

I am by no means a veteran to this but I would say RELAX! It's going to be hard to screw this up as well as the public system does!

dbmamaz
05-17-2010, 10:56 AM
My husband, who had been adamently against home-schooling for years and finally said he wouldnt veto if I chose to homeschool, actually told me mid-summer to stop sweating it so much, just try something, and switch if it doesnt work. For me I looked at it by subject, and tried to narrow it down to my top pics, review it with my son (hubby wouldnt really give any input), and sleep on it, look for more reviews, look at sample pages, sleep on it some more. Its really hard - and i do beleive there are multiple products that would all work as well . . . there's no 1 right answer, even for you and your son. You just gotta pick something . . . eventualy! (not yet)

Shoe
05-17-2010, 11:22 AM
Well, this year I just used an "out of the box" religious complete curriculum-simply because I was in a hurry and it had been used and recommended by a good friend of mine.

Next year, though, I've been looking around a lot. I decided that for literature I wanted to study various classics in literature, so I looked over a lot of recommended reading lists that I found on line, narrowed it down by grade level and with a general theme of "adventure" and also by seeing if the works of literature I wanted to use had some reasonable pre-made lesson plans available. Oh yeah, I also wanted a few that had a female protagonist to make it more interesting and relevant for my daughter. And if I'm honest, they are mostly books that I enjoyed around that age.

For math, I read a lot of reviews and product descriptions, as well as taking recommendations from other homeschoolers I know, and have decided to try Saxon Math, this year at least.

For science, I decided on some Apologia science courses (modified somewhat with secular textbook supplementation) because I liked the presentation and approach it takes. Science curricula seem difficult to find for secular homeschoolers (at least at the middle school level).

I'm just winging it with social studies, using a kind of notebook approach (Around the World in 180 Days), in which the kids need to seek out information from a variety of sources (on line, the library, other references that we have, etc.) and it includes history, geography, culture and current events using a continental approach.

I think basically, I just looked for materials that were appropriate to their level that seemed like they would work well for the kids. If it doesn't work as well as I'd like, I'm open to changing my approach-even midway through the year if I have to.

mjzzyzoff
05-17-2010, 11:46 AM
I agree with Shoe, we will be open to changing midway through the year if necessary!

ginnyjf
05-17-2010, 11:48 AM
Beth, I'm exactly where you are in the process, so I can't really give you any advice, just sympathy! Zack is out of school on the 26th and I would so like to have a plan in place by then because our summer looks to be extremely busy. I've spent most of my time researching educational websites and computer-based curriculum and downloading samples and reading this forum and I'm no closer to a decision than I was before. I figure Zack and I are going to need some time to just "be" for a while because the school year has been stressful for us both. He does at least two hours of independent reading a day, so I'm not worried about him falling behind in anything except maybe math, so I'm going to concentrate my efforts there and just kind of wing it on the other subject areas. Good luck to you!

reversemigration
05-17-2010, 05:32 PM
Beth, I'm also in the same boat, with that sense of bailing fast to keep from going under. Because there's simply so much information and so many choices out there, I had to narrow it down to the method that appealed most to me and which I thought would work best for DS. For us, that ended up being a classical approach based mostly-kinda-sorta on the Well-Trained Mind method. That gave me a skeleton on which to hang the actual curriculum and resource choices, choices that I'm still working on. I sort of prune, prune, and prune some more, and make a choice among what's left. That being said, I'm always finding new and intriguing ideas - particularly here - which tends to add more complexity. I think what I need to do is KISS, and add things during the year as I become more confident in my ability to do so.

I think I'd be more stressed if I were starting in a couple of weeks, though. Over the summer, I'm only planning on doing math review and making sure he's well-stocked for reading material. Just hang in there...we're our own worst critics! You'll do just fine, fear not. :)

Busygoddess
05-17-2010, 06:21 PM
Your son is more than old enough to give you his opinion. Let him look over the options with you, once you've narrowed down the list some. Ask some questions about each - what do you think you might like about this one; what do you think you might dislike about this one; does it look like it moves too slow/too fast for you, etc. I'm not saying to let him make the final choice, but his opinion might be helpful (especially since you aren't sure of his learning style, yet).

schwartzkari
05-17-2010, 08:54 PM
I started homeschooling my daughter when she was 3 on a whim. She wanted to know all about kittens one day, so I got on the internet and came across a preschool website that offered free curriculum and lo and behold they had a whole unit study on cats! So I printed the whole unit study, we did all the activities and she asked for more. So for 6 months, we studied whatever random idea her little heart desired. She'll be turning 6 in August and we did a complete preschool and Kindergarten curriculum in the last 2 years and she continues to ask for more.

Maybe you could start with a unit study on one specific subject that your son wants to learn about and go from there. You could take the time to observe what his learning style is. Does he like to read? Would he rather use software on a computer? Definitely do not stress yourself out but keep yourself informed about all the different choices out there.

Teri
05-17-2010, 11:05 PM
My advice would be to not stress it yet. Reading books will not give you your son's learning style.
Personally, I would talk to him about what he likes. Joseph was able to tell me in K that he wanted hands on and that he wanted the subjects to be related in some way.
He also loves visual input, like www.brainpop.com.

Closeacademy
05-18-2010, 07:08 AM
I have found from my own experience and talking to others both IRL and online that the first 2 years of homeschooling are the hardest. Why? because you spend one of those years learning how to teach while your child is figuring out how to learn from you and the other year is spent finding the methods/materials that work for your family.

My first year, I just sort of jumped in and tried out some stuff. Most of it didn't work and I tried new stuff. As time went by I eventually found something that worked or did the job until I found something that clicked just right with us.

Homeschooling is an adventure and a journey. Part of this experience is finding out what works for you and your children. Finding the methods and the materials that fit your family's learning needs. Good journey.

BPier12
05-18-2010, 09:25 AM
Beth, I'm also in the same boat, with that sense of bailing fast to keep from going under. Because there's simply so much information and so many choices out there, I had to narrow it down to the method that appealed most to me and which I thought would work best for DS. For us, that ended up being a classical approach based mostly-kinda-sorta on the Well-Trained Mind method.

LOL! Thanks, Ben. From all of my research, a "mostly-kinda-sorta" take on the Well-Trained Mind is what is appealing to me most these days as well. I think a lot of WTM is too rigid so I'm looking at it more as a framework to be altered with a fair amount of tweaking and substitution, which the authors certainly seem to endorse -- take what works, leave the rest out or find something better. I still need to keep assessing whether it is the best for DS. News to follow, I'm sure... :D

BPier12
05-18-2010, 09:37 AM
Thanks so much to everyone for your kind and considered responses! It helps to know that I am not alone in this confusion and also to be reminded that this is a PROCESS. I tend to be the kind of person who wants all the facts, up front, with a plan in place so that there are no concerns about "where are we going with this?" (which makes car trips with DH challenging as he enjoys getting lost and I have a map in hand almost ALL of the time...:p) Hmmm, control issues? No, not me! LOL.

Anyway, it helps to be reminded that there is no perfect solution to the learning process and that it will evolve as we grow and learn together. Someone mentioned "down time" for the summer and I think I may have misled people in my original post. We are not officially starting a homeschooling program until the fall. Several weeks ago, I asked DS if he wanted to start homeschooling in June and he said that he wanted to have the summer to work on his own projects and then start work with me in the fall. I'm perfectly fine with that. I think he needs the break to decompress and have time to think more about what he wants out of homeschooling and how we will work together. My concerns about having things in place by June are more my own issues about having things figured out so the summer can be more relaxed and not worrying so much about what is to come. So, I'm willing to let my son come to the process slowly, but not willing to let myself do it? I need to think about that some more!! :o

LJean
05-18-2010, 09:49 AM
With all the choices out there, it isn't easy to decide what to use.
Since I had some down time, (was told to take it easy due to a problem with a disk in my neck) I spent a good portion of it looking through a very large catalog. I seemed to want one of everything! ;)
I wrote down which subjects I was going to teach, then made a list from the catalog of what I may be interested in using. I then spent some days looking for reviews of those products. I also got input from my daughter. This narrowed my choices, though I am still deciding between items in the categories. At least some things I have figured out.

Good luck with the choosing!

BPier12
05-18-2010, 09:49 AM
Your son is more than old enough to give you his opinion. Let him look over the options with you, once you've narrowed down the list some. Ask some questions about each - what do you think you might like about this one; what do you think you might dislike about this one; does it look like it moves too slow/too fast for you, etc. I'm not saying to let him make the final choice, but his opinion might be helpful (especially since you aren't sure of his learning style, yet).

I completely agree with this and have tried to do this without any success. Several days ago I brought some books home from the library that seem like good possibilities for us. I told him that they were not necessarily what we would use, I was more interested in knowing if the style, and content of the books worked for him or piqued his interest. They have sat untouched on the dining room table. I've asked him on several occasions to take a look at them and he says he will, then he doesn't. It is quite possible that the whole thing is overwhelming to him and he can't make a decision because he does not know what he wants (hmm, kind of like his mother...lol), but it is frustrating to me because I DO want him to be involved in the choices. I want him to be engaged and take a good measure of ownership in the creation of his education.

I'm sure that we will work this out, and it all may need to wait until he is out of school and can focus more on what is to come instead of on the daily tasks of the school he is in now.

dbmamaz
05-18-2010, 10:04 AM
Several days ago I brought some books home from the library that seem like good possibilities for us. I told him that they were not necessarily what we would use, I was more interested in knowing if the style, and content of the books worked for him or piqued his interest. They have sat untouched on the dining room table. I have to say, my boys wont do anything 'educational' unless I make them - but they dont resent me making as long as its within our framework. I sometimes think its a double-edged sword. I set aside several hours each day as 'school time' to make it clear there is no video games or recreational movie watching during this time (tho I do allow projects for the older and free play for the younger). OTOH, maybe w less structure, they'd 'offer' to do 'educational' work outside of school time? Or maybe they, like I, really like the structure of school time/free time.

So, my point was, when looking at curriculum on line, I can get my son to come over and glance at a sample page and give an opinion. But when I get books out of the library to see if they would work, I have to assign him to read 15 or 30 minutes from each book during 'school time', one book each day, and then ask him to choose which one he likes best. That way the reading is on my time, not his (free) time. Esp when your son is still in school mode, you might expect some of this dynamic. I keep wondering if I'll ever see the kind of initiative I see other people talk about . . . but to be honest, my oldest, who I never home schooled, and my youngest, who is still 6, are much more self-directed. My 14 yo has always needed someone else to direct him, most of the time.