I remember about a year ago when my husband and I decided to take our kids to Disney World on our next trip Stateside. I returned home and obsessed about Disney for about…three months. Our trip was over two years away but I wanted to know all the things. So I researched and planned and so on and so forth. I told hubby how much money I thought we needed to save, when I thought we should go and for how long, and then I let it go. Other than a few blogs I follow now I am completely removed from the Disney obsession and will try to remain so for another year or so, until the trip is closer in time.
Homeschooling planning is not like that.
As soon as we decided that I would be homeschooling our kids full-time I began to obsess about it. Materials, schedules, furniture (do we need another bookshelf???), etc. And let me be honest: I’m still obsessing. Still trying to wrap my mind around what exactly this next year will look like for us.
For the past 18 months I have been homeschooling. The first year I was very much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants homeschooling due to hubby’s first tour groups, interns, not receiving my materials until late June, and having to take an unexpected visa run that summer. Not to mention having a 1-year old. And a 3-year old. In addition to the 5-year old. This year has been better. I already had most of my materials by last spring because we went to the States last February, so I purchased them then. I was able to do my planning in the spring and still keep up with our crazy summer last year. But our lives are still very rarely predictable and my husband travels a lot. My kids have been in local kindergarten in the mornings which has added another level of crazy, one which I’m glad we won’t be repeating.
But now…now I’ve reached a new level of planning, researching, and diving in. I’ve got a couple of years under my belt so I’m more aware of what I like, what I don’t, what my kids hate. How much I can actually teach with a 2-year old under foot. How painting is school, and I should plan it as such instead of dismissing it as “extra,” especially for my artistic kiddo. So all of these newfound discoveries and revelations about myself as a mom and teacher and my kids as…well…kids, is both helping and hindering me.
For example. We have been reading through Story of the World: Volume 1 this year. And my kids have loved it. So I’ve been looking at repeating it next year but adding in some of the activities. Sounds simple, right? Except then I hear about Beautiful Feet Books and their teaching history through literature program and I think, “That’s it! Let’s do that!” But then I notice that their 1st/2nd grade curriculum is focused on American History, which I wasn’t planning on covering yet because, umm, we don’t live in America. My kids are way more interested in Russia and Czech Republic and Finland and Turkey (places they’ve been) than they are in America. So then I start researching, “Why start with American History?” (and continue it for, oh, forever, and learn practically nothing about the rest of the world. But that’s another tangent). I learn that history is learned in something like concentric circles for children…start with what they know and build on that, so THAT is why kids in America learn all about their state and their country and American history for so long. SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? Where do my kids’ concentric circles begin, and WHERE IS THE CURRICULUM FOR THAT?
So I’m in a pickle over here. I think I’ve got my writing and math picked out. But I’m struggling with history/geography/nature. Where is the homeschool curriculum for American kids who live in Asia? The social studies or history or geography or nature unit for early elementary American kids that doesn’t focus on EVERYTHING AMERICA? I fully intend to teach my kids American stuff…I just feel it will serve us all better if they’re actually interested in it first. And then I start worrying that when we go to the States and my then-third-grader doesn’t know the Pledge of Allegiance or the Alabama state bird that people will think my kids are stupid and getting a sub par education.
This, my friends, is why I started this blog. Because surely there are many of us out there who are struggling with these same things and have some solutions, suggestions, even homemade curriculums. Who see value in certain educational models but they just don’t work for us because of where we live or because of our inability to access materials as our children’s whims direct. Classical unschooling or strict interest-led-learning will not work for us, unless my kids happen to be interested in Russian language or the tourism business, in which case we’ve got them covered.
I’m in planning overwhelm, and much as I’d like to get out of it, I don’t know how. Too many moving parts combined with too many curriculum choices equals one confused homeschooling mama.