September 28, 2009

Planning and more planning

We are almost one month into our home school program. I am mostly satisfied, but still not 100% happy with the outcome. DS seems to like the book choices, seems to be enjoying the history period. I guess I just wished that I had a better feel for what we were doing, a program of sorts to follow, and more guidance.

I am using my own curriculum this year. We have, in the past, relied on Ambleside Online's House of Education for our overall curriculum. We have had good success, medium success and some not-so success over the course of six years. Generally, the curriculum is very good. It is more that it is a Charlotte Mason inspired program, and therefore, there are no lesson plans or instructions outside of Miss Mason's own teaching suggestions. It requires a parent who is well-versed in CM, and who can diligently stick to her teaching methods. I am neither, though I have spent a lot of time reading about her philosophy and using most of her educational methods.

My son liked doing CM. I liked it at first too, but after awhile found all the books to be overwhelming. I mean, instead of having one or two books per subject, it was not uncommon to have five, ten or even fifteen (per year). This made it very difficult to coordinate the study. It made it difficult to connect the dots, so to speak. Even though I tried to keep it all scheduled and organized, I always felt like we were behind where we needed to be.

I tried other methods: unit studies, classical education, and even textbooks. Nothing really clicked for us, and we found most other curriculum lacking in rigor (academic strength). Our best approach has been an eclectic one, utilizing various methods and books, and combining them by courses. This is what we have done since 10th grade. Our success has been fair.

Perhaps the problem isn't the teaching method or the books or even the educational philosophy? Perhaps the problem is me? Perhaps it is just my own short-sightedness or unwillingness to let go and go with the flow? Perhaps it is my need to be in control of our days and weeks -- to micromanage our home school program?

In planning for next semester, there are some concerns coming up. One is beginning the ACT testing process. DS is pretty well set on going to college to study music, so I also need to make sure he has all his ducks in a row, music-wise. I also need to knock off Precalc (ewh!) My goal is to make sure he is ready academically to handle the ACT test. I also want him to be ready to take some classes at the Junior College.

It is hard to work all this in AND do home school. Home school planning is 90% battle; the rest is just walking through the park. I wish I felt more confident that what we were doing was right, that it was preparing DS for college. I think it is, but I cannot help worry about it. Oh well...just parental flutters, nothing more!

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