Thursday, July 02, 2009

Organizing "School"

What, you thought the chores and a master schedule would be sufficient? Apparently not. The Maxwells put out another book since I'd bought out their store Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores 2 years ago, and I decided it would be worthwhile to check it out. It's called (wait for it... you'll never guess...) Managers of Their Schools. Yeah, whooda thought, right? I ordered it on a Saturday, and it arrived on a Saturday. And I read it on that Saturday.

It did not disappoint. Like it's predecessors, it talks a lot about the benefits of having a schedule/chores/homeschool, and walks you carefully step-by-step towards forming a plan that will work for your household in that area. It reinforces the importance of prayerfully submitting your ideas to the Lord, and while they give lots of details about the nuts-and-bolts of what works for them, they're quick to point out that your family may be led otherwise.

They talk extensively about record-keeping and legal matters - and let me tell you, if I lived in Kansas, I'd be locked up by now! My goodness! Who does the state think they are, anyway? Um, yeah, recordkeeping isn't my strong suit. "You want proof of my homeschooling? Here, Big Sister, read this.... Good. What time does this clock read? What's 11 minus 7? Measure this in inches. Shade half this circle. How much money is this? Ta-da!"

Yeah, apparently that wouldn't fly in Kansas. They want hours, man, documented hours! So, while those parts aren't terribly important to me, the information they share might be helpful to you who live under Nazi rule other regulations.

Join me on a brief but important rabbit trail (wait, if it's important, is it a rabbit trail?)...

A few weeks ago I was pleased to make last-minute plans to attend a homeschool convention. The last (and only) time I went was 2 years ago, while pregnant with Organique (I hardly looked different this time around. Same look, same clothes, same... profile) - yes, when I was introduced to the aforementioned materials. In any case, I was pleased to see a workshop offered that was about choosing curriculum and method for your homeschool. I attended it, took copious notes, and then left feeling no more secure than when I'd entered. I already knew about Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason/Literature-Based models, Unschooling, Textbook-based, Classical. The speaker clearly laid out examples and pros and cons of each. And as I looked at those pros and cons, and at my life for this next season, I was not pleased. While I'm the type that will make *no* decision far quicker than I'll make a *possibly incorrect* decision, that time has come and gone, and I have to figure something out. Worse is the fact that in homeschooling, I don't think there exists a *just right* decision. At least not one that is black-and-white, true-in-all-situations. And oh, I just hate that. I really like to be "right" with this kind of important stuff. My problem was that the method/s I am/was attracted to were obviously not something I could accomplish with any success this year. At least I know myself well enough to know that. Worse, what looked "doable" goes against my grain.

Which of course helped me postpone any 'decision-making' for a little while longer.

Enter the book.

One thing I did NOT expect was the information on textbooks and textbook-based homeschooling. They recognize that this method is kinda the black sheep of the homeschooling world (my words, not theirs), and while they don't mention *what* they used to do, method-wise, their testimony is intriguing, at least. They spent their first 12 years of homeschooling with a non-textbook method, at which point God led them back around to the initially-discarded option of using textbooks to meet the needs they felt were important. The last 11 years (as of book-writing) have been textbook-style, and they don't regret it at all. I won't give their reasons here, but they give a compelling argument in their favor (or at least, to keep them as an option). They also included 'testimonies' from their kids - their older 3 had no or very little textbook instruction, while the most recent children have used them for some time. While the older children (adults now) are quite grateful for their education (and they're successful people), they do think their younger siblings are getting the better deal. The currently-schooled have no complaints, they enjoy their homeschool, their textbooks, the system, just fine.

This really struck me, because ever since college (where I majored in Elementary Education) I have been sold on the notion that textbooks are dull, boring, clipped-and-chopped from it's original 'true, natural' state, that they're not much fun and stifle a 'lifetime love of learning.' I've picked up the same sense in the homeschooling world, and until now, have had no reason to challenge that. This challenge has come at just the right time for me to make *some* decisions regarding homeschooling this year, and to make those with a little less guilt than I might have otherwise.

With bated breath I perused some *gasp* textbook catalogs handed to me at the convention. I read through the resources the Maxwells have used and recommend, and their reasons. I researched online. And slowly, with prayer and Hubby's blessing, began to make some decisions. It wasn't easy. It still isn't. I don't know if I'm just completely brainwashed and biased, or if I really am treading on thin ice (but it's only this year. I'm only taking one year at a time here!), but talking about it is harder than reporting my weight to the midwife. I want to squinch up my eyes, hold my breath, and just barely squeak out the words. I've ordered textbooks. Not just for math. Other stuff too. But I remember that there's no way I'm going to be able to work out a 2nd-grade's worth of lit-based education with everything else that's on my plate - I'm not sure that I could anyways! - , and I know that this is better.

So - another thing I might need 'talked down from' from time to time...

Maybe eventually I'll even be brave enough to tell you what I ordered...

1 comment:

Benny said...

Hmmm... Your thoughts intrigue me.

We're starting 2nd grade with Punky and Kindergarten with Finny... that makes half the kids sortof school age, and half notsomuch. How exactly does one do it all without completely winging it?

Aw well. I figure I can wing it at least another year. After all, 2nd grade is really still pretty low-impact... right? ;o)