Thursday, September 22, 2011
Our home school this year
I have mentioned a couple of times in the past month how enjoyable it is home schooling one child. I want you to know that I truly, truly am not trying to rub it in if you are struggling to home school several children at once, and I also want to say that truly it's not all roses every day. One is a lonely number, remember (I think I was in second or third grade when that song was popular and I remember our after-school babysitter playing it on the Hi-Fi-- boy am I old!), and for as fast as our day gets finished with one little student, there are many hours to fill when there is no one but mom around. Sometimes there is a friend (the family up the street home schools) but sometimes there is not.
But, all-in-all this is a good year so far. No one to bicker with, and mom's attention (mostly -- there is laundry and knitting) all to herself.
Of course, the curricula can make or break a year and this year I think we have a winner.
When I first began homeschooling nine years ago, I had an eighth grader in Catholic day school, and a fifth grader and first grader at home, as well as a teeny toddler girl. I never set out to home school, ever, but the Holy Spirit showed me the way and I followed (being a stubborn German woman I can tell you I rarely follow so that is one powerful Holy Spirit!). I started my first year, and many subsequent years, with Seton.
Seton was the education that I remembered from Catholic grade school before our Catholic grade schools lost so much of their Catholicity. It is Catholic, old-fashioned and very complete. For my boys, it was good. They did well. They were task-oriented for the most part (like their mama) and enjoyed workbooks. They liked to be able to see the task and know that it was doable. I know all boys are not like that, but mine were.
With the boys, we enrolled in Seton and, for the most part, used the lesson plans almost exactly as written. Because I had not set out to be a home schooler, I was, essentially, just doing institutional school at home. I know that many true-blue homeschoolers will tell you that's not the way it should be done, but I say horse poo. It should be done the way you want it to be done -- you are the teacher, principal and board of education (of course, with dad)! Maybe it can be better, but not if that's not who you are. I am not a creative-follow-the-whims-of-my-children homeschooler. I often wish I was, but that's not just me. I am giving them an education in the safety and security of our loving home, and I am giving them a Catholic education, which they would not get at any local Catholic school (that's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day).
When Faith got to be in grade two, however, I realized that Seton did not work for her. She is extraordinarily creative, and while she didn't balk at workbooks, the Seton workbooks were not right for her. I looked around and when she started third grade, last year, I decided to use mostly Catholic Heritage Curricula. For the most part it was a perfect fit. MCP math was not a good match and we fiddled around with some other things, ending up with a mishmash year (third grade is not a good year to mishmash math, I'll tell you from experience). CHC reading was also not a perfect fit, but reading can be done with a library filled with books and that's just what we did. I had her retell stories and answer questions just to know she was comprehending. After doing that last year I firmly believe no formal reading curriculum is necessary. Just find good books and read. The CHC workbooks for spelling, English, handwriting, and science were perfect, as were the Faith and Life religion books (I can't say enough great things about those religion books and that's saying a lot because I love the old St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism books a whole lot), MCP Phonics, and the Map Skills books by Continental Press. The CHC lesson plans are great, but very flexible and I spread my wings more last year in terms of doing my own thing more than I ever did before. I did what I wanted to and it felt really good.
Because CHC worked so well for Faith last year, I decided to go back to their catalog to start planning for this year, and I will continue to tell you that tomorrow. Stay tuned...