October 1, 2007

Organizing and other thoughts

We are one month into our schooling and already I am feeling the need to change things -- AGAIN! I have just spent time on my knees praying about this very thing, namely why I always feel the need to "change." This is not something new, it is not a recent development, and it is not something that came about as a result of our current circumstances (with DH's health). No, I have been a 'change artist' for as long as I can remember. Whenever I would feel frustrated or sense that things were not under control, I would change something that I did have control over.

When I was young this usually meant my room or my "things." I would move my furniture, reorganize my closet, or change my dolls/toys all around. As I got older, I would often change my appearance (new haircut or clothes). As a married woman, my favorite change is our living room furniture. We are not blessed with both a living and family room, so our main living area is my primary location for change. When money is flowing, often I paint or decorate. When money is tight, I tend to just move things about. I especially like to move the sofa and take the pictures off the wall. Somehow, moving things around gives me a sense of "freshness" and helps me change my perspective. Maybe it is more about the physical aspect of change, moving things, dusting, exhausting energy. Usually I end up tired out, but satisfied with the result. Moving makes me content. Change makes me happy. Hmmmm....

I will admit that I have played the "change game" with our home schooling since the day we took our son out of public school. With so many curriculum options, it was impossible to choose the "best fit" for our highly gifted child. Oh, how I would love to purchase them all and "test drive" them to see which ones or which parts I liked best!! Unfortunately, that is not realistic and as such I have had to choose programs and books that I thought "looked" good on the outside. My hope always was that they would "work out for us." Most of the time, my gut instinct was right on. A few times I did choose poorly and found out rather quickly that the program or book was just not to our liking.

This year I chose to enroll our son in A Beka Academy. My decision was based on my concern over my dear DH's health. Not knowing his final outcome, there was a large measure of uncertainty, and the thought of having our son in an accredited program made sense. What if DS needed to go back to public school? I certainly didn't want him to repeat any courses and with an accredited transcript, that likelihood would be slim. I love A Beka curriculum, no doubt about it. I love the colors and the content. I love the conservative nature of the writing. However, what I don't love is how rigid the program is and how much extra work is involved in completing each course. Some parents like this aspect and feel that it gives "honors" credit to the courses (in CA, A Beka is considered to be "honors" level). I guess I see so much of what they ask as simply "busy work." Their focus is on 'crossing every t and dotting every i". They are also fairly test-happy and quiz and test every other day.

After a month of the pressure of conforming to Academy standards (DVD 1), we have decided to switch over to Program 2. Program 2 still uses the DVDs, but relies on the parent for grading and keeping transcripts. This program will give me more freedom to decide what parts of the program we can skip. It also means that I can decide how to evaluate my son's understanding and hopefully reduce some of the weekly quizzing. For now, we will continue to watch the DVDs, but instead of trying to keep to A Beka's schedule, we will make the teaching program work for us instead of against us. I am hoping that by making this change, we will still get the best of A Beka's teaching without all the stress of doing paperwork. My hope....

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