CHM 065:Combating Curriculum Chaos

Listen to “CHM 065:Combating Curriculum Chaos” on Spreaker.

In this episode, we talk about combating curriculum chaos.

Opening Verse

Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

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Do you homeschool for religious or faith-based reasons or academic, or both? What are some of the most annoying questions you’ve been asked about your choice to homeschool?

How To Combat Curriculum Chaos

“Which curriculum are you using? How does curriculum (X) compare with curriculum (Y)? Why are you choosing to switch your math curriculum this year? How are you going to combine literature-based learning with the Charlotte Mason method?”

These are all questions people have asked me online- and for good reason.  I’ve done videos on my exploration of the Charlotte Mason, and my discovery of my love for lit-based learning.  I’ve chosen curricula based on my desire to have my child be steeped in literature-based learning. I’ve also made various math choices – switching from one publisher to another. I don’t blame people for asking me these questions.  Their curiosity stems from my own decision to be authentic and quite public about my homeschooling choices.

I’m out there, really out there- as some of my closest friends would say.  I’ve decided to blast my decisions out there not only on my blog, but on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, plus a podcast on Itunes.  I feel comfortable enough to share, because I know that what I am doing whether good or not so great can help someone else. The reason I get so many questions about curriculum choices I’ve made is that I’ve made so many! And so have many other homeschoolers.  We pick and choose through a variety of materials and step away feeling overwhelmed with the choices.

Focus on today.

I’m finding that the best way to combat curriculum chaos is to cut down on the outside noise and really hone in on what your kids’ needs are right here and right now. (**Note: forget about what they needed yesterday! Today is the day.)

Ask them.

Your kids have some great answers for you.  You’ll be surprised at the solutions you can come across by simply asking them what they like.  I discovered this year -after we invested in a Sonlight core -that my daughter would rather take her first year of middle school testing the waters of cyber schooling. And although part of me wanted to protest and hang on to what little bit of hands-on experiences I could have with her, I realized that it was in our best interest as a family unit to let her do this.  We’ll never know if it’s a good fit for her unless we let her try her wings.

Toss what doesn’t work.

If you already tried it last year and the year before and it doesn’t work- toss it.  Well, not literally.  But give it away to someone else or donate. There’s no use beating a dead horse (for lack of a better analogy). Get the worth that you can from a curriculum and if it no longer serves its purpose for your kids, move on to something else.

Narrow things down.

You don’t have to have a list a mile long of subjects you’re “going to teach”.  I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit to the burnout that comes along with teaching 6 subjects to a 6-year-old years ago.  *Shaking my head in shame*.  Take it from me and don’t do that to yourself.  Just a word of advice to lighten your load.

Take the basic subjects, focus on them, streamline your life, and make things easier for yourself and your kids.  You’ll have more time to enjoy your kids if you do it this way.  Believe me.  I’ve lived and learned.

Better to beef it up than strip it down.

I’ve recently purchased a curriculum that came with all the bells and whistles- the full nine yards.  What I mean by this is: that it is so complete that you won’t have a lack of ideas to bring the subject to life because it’s all provided for you. The problem with that, I think, is that for newer homeschooling families, in particular, you tend to think that you’re not covering all your bases unless you’ve completed everything in the package- which is far from the truth.

In homeschooling, your opportunities to enhance a topic are endless, so if you find that purchasing a “full” package makes you feel driven to complete every last project and page of the curriculum, then maybe you need to buy the bare minimum. In other words, it’s sometimes easier to beef it up than strip it down.  If you give me a 300-page manual teacher’s guide, I’m more inclined to feel compelled to do it all (especially if I paid a pretty penny for it).  That’s just my personality. In that case, it’s easier for me to buy a bare-bones minimalist curriculum and beef it up with my own ideas and research than to take a full package and strip it down to the bare minimum.  

 I know it’s not that way for everyone, but that’s just an idea that may help some people in deciding on curriculum. But if I just have to have pre-packaged curricula because my busy drama as a work-at-home mom doesn’t allow me much energy to get too creative, then I always have options like online classes or workbooks.  

These are already prepped and ready to go- and all I have to do is have my child open to page 1 of the workbook or log on to the class.  I can always add on to the ideas presented in the workbook or class and embellish their learning as I see fit (adding on videos, extra reading, and additional projects or crafts.) In the end, I don’t have all the answers and I’m constantly finding new ways to make my homeschool run better.  

Sometimes I don’t know why I’ve chosen one publisher over another.  Some days I wonder how in the world I will combine my two favorite philosophies into one and I ask myself if I could really see this idealistic homeschool picture played out in my home.  Of course, all things are possible, but there are times when not everything I imagine is practical.  So when people ask me why I made the switch from one curriculum to the next, I cannot honestly give you a clear-cut answer- other than that it just wasn’t the perfect fit for us the following school year.  What we thought would work one year will not fit us the next. I’ve only had a handful of curriculum choices work out for us long-term and I could count them on one hand (okay, half a hand.) And that’s okay. Until I find what works for us, I’ll keep searching.

How about you? How do you combat the curriculum chaos?

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