Friday, April 8, 2011

Curriculum Quandries

Keeping myself from blogging so that I would work on Dez's book has not really worked out like I expected it to. I was thinking that if I dangled the blog in front of me like a carrot, so that I could only post if I had already worked on the book, then I would be more creative in carving time out of my day to work on the book. As it turns out, the more you write, the more you write, so I just need to be writing and then I'll write more. Get it?

Also, when I wasn't blogging or working on Dez's book, I was watching way too much Biggest Loser and American Idol. But in just one week, both Courtney (BL) and Pia (AI) were voted off their shows and now I have zero interest in the rest of their respective seasons. So now it's back to the grindstone.

Biggest Loser and American Idol are only on TV three nights a week, though, so I'm sure you are curious to learn how I have filled up the other days and nights. Let me begin by saying that you will be glad to hear that of the 10 boxes of Thin Mints stocking our freezer at the beginning of March, there is only a box and a half left -- eating a sleeve of thin mints every time Biggest Loser and American Idol are on explains how I managed to gain 4 pounds in the last month, just do the math.

Other than eating Thin Mints and watching TV, I've been spending a huge amount of time researching homeschool curriculum. If you are a homeschooler, you understand the time-consuming nature of deciding between SonLight and Well-Trained Mind, for example. If you are not a homeschooler and hope to never become one, imagine if you will, that your child's entire future hangs on whether or not you choose something called Singapore Math over Saxon Math and you have no idea the real difference between the two -- then you will have an idea of what I've been dealing with for the last month.

Believe it or not, the amount of homeschooling curriculum out there these days is simply overwhelming -- apparently you can't just keep your kid home, let him watch Mythbusters and call it science, the History Channel and call it history or creative fiction writing (depending on the show), and SpongeBob and call it recess. You actually have this incredible variety of choices to make -- what subjects you even want to teach being one of them. I know you thought that was the simple part, and to a degree it is -- math, history, and writing/grammar are only the tip of the iceberg. You have to choose curriculums for each of those subjects plus any others that you think are "necessary." Casey loves science, so I have to find an appropriate science curriculum. He wants to learn Latin and Greek (don't be too impressed -- he reads a lot of Rick Riordan novels; I suspect he doesn't really understand what studying Latin and Greek will actually be like -- I sure don't). So we'll definitely do some Latin this year, but that means I have to find curriculum for it that comes with a very thorough teacher's manual.

For a few weeks immediately following our decision to homeschool, I fell asleep every night wracking my brain for what critical part of Casey's 3rd grade education was slipping my mind, only to wake up in the middle of the night having had a horrible nightmare about Casey getting to high school never having learned how to write in cursive.

And did you know that in the homeschooling world, how you teach history, i.e., in what order you teach it, is a really big deal? Most homeschooling history curriculum runs with the idea that history makes more sense to students if it's taught chronologically -- so you start at the beginning and work your way to the end. Preschoolers in homeschool don't start learning about their community and neighborhoods and then in successive grades move to their town, state, country, other countries. Homeschoolers subscribing to the chronological teaching of history will tell you that the traditional smallest to largest approach just makes a child think they are the center of the universe.

I could bore you with many other details about our homeschooling curriculum choices and how I'm sure we will regret some of them about halfway through the year. I am starting a "Curriculum Regrets" envelope in my Dave Ramsey envelope system now to save money for the curriculum I will need to buy halfway through the year when I discover that what I'm using for a subject just isn't working.

Once you decide to become a homeschooling family, you have to get back on decent terms with the local library. So after I paid my $50 library fine (that was $5 for 10 books that were overdue), we slunk back to the library and were relieved to discover that my picture was actually not hanging above the desk with a big red circle and slash over it. After browsing a while, we approached checkout with 16 books. I was afraid I was over the limit and asked the librarian how many books I could check out. She said "Fifty." I thought I had misheard her and said, "Fifteen?" and started trying to figure out which book I was going to put back. She said, "No, fifty."



I got all hot and my head started tingling. The English Major in me wanted to dance down the aisles singing "Fifty books! Fifty books!" and pulling classic literature off the shelves to put into a shopping cart.

But then the forgetful mommy side of me calculated the $5 fine on fifty overdue books. There's no envelope in the Dave Ramsey system for overdue books. We left with our 16 books and were grateful.

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