If you could send a note back through time, what would you tell the “new homeschool mom” you?What would you specifically tell yourself about your curriculum choices?
So much of the first few years (or five or seven) is about finding the right curriculum fit for your family. Wouldn’t it have been nice to find the right fit right off the bat? (Were you one of the lucky ones that did?)
I look back over the years to see what we began with and look at what we’re using now and– I see nothing that’s the same. =) That’s not because what we were using was necessarily bad. I feel like telling that old curriculum, “Look, I think you’re great. In fact you’re awesome. It’s not you.. It’s ME.”
People frequently ask me about our favorite curriculum pieces, or things that didn’t work, and I’m always more than happy to share. Of course, things change over the years. Someone emailed me about curriculum choices recently and I thought, “what better way to share than through a letter to myself?” So if I *could* send a note to myself back in 2004, what would I say? I would probably like to tell myself to skip a few things and start using a few other things a lot earlier than we did. Wouldn’t you?
Five Curriculum Related Things I’d Tell Myself Back Then
1.) Dear Self, I know you want to find All The Perfect Things right away. But here’s the thing, what’s perfect for now won’t be perfect later.
What I needed when I had one preschooler and a baby isn’t the same thing I need now with a 14, 11 and 8 year old. What I have now won’t be exactly what I need when I have a 17, 14, and 11 year old either.
2.) Some things, however, would have worked out for you all along. So you should have just gone ahead and checked out Life of Fred Math way back when, you really could have saved yourself a lot of headaches and math arguments. I’m just sayin’.
Oh how many afternoons my oldest and I spend trudging through Saxon Math with tears and pleading (on both our parts.) Saxon is great, and it was familiar from high school. But it just wasn’t a good fit for my oldest daughter. Even after we dropped Saxon, we didn’t really find something she enjoyed until we found Fred.
3.) Speaking of things you are GOING.TO.LOVE… just wait until you discover Homeschool Legacy’s Once a Week Unit Studies, The Mystery of History, Apologia Science, and the Who Is God series. YOU. JUST. WAIT.
Some things I just knew as soon as I saw them that I was going to love them and they were going to fit like a glove. =) Go with that gut instinct. Sometimes it’s wrong, but usually it’s right.
4.) And by the way, teaching grammar and writing is going to be a little bit harder than you think. Get a good start on that! It’s too bad you didn’t find the A Beka Language Arts materials back in the beginning. Ah, well, you live and learn?
Some years I didn’t have a choice but to try to piece together a Language Arts curriculum from free and cheap materials. After someone gave my middle child some A Beka Language Arts materials this year, I realized it’s exactly the same kind of thing I’ve been wanting to have all along..
5.) But, no regrets! It’s never too late to learn. At any point you can supplement with computer games, free downloads, fun apps, and good manipulatives for many things like math and spelling. And you, dear Self, are going to build quite the arsenal of supplemental weapons! When you find something the kids are weak on, don’t worry, just pull out one of the many tools at your finger tips and work on it. And there will be fun learning, too! There will be Maestro Classics, and See the Light Art. There will be WonderMaps and DK Books.
Over the years we have collected and found many great supplemental items and tools. For math alone we have Times Tales, Wrap Ups, Math Missions, and more. The kids learn just as much, if not more, while learning with these fun things. Which just goes to show you that which curriculum you choose doesn’t matter as much as finding one that fits. There are a ton of big name, high quality, perfectly fine, curriculum companies out there. Any of one of them are likely to be able to teach your kids what they need to know. Find one that fits, and run with it!
So, dear Self, don’t worry so much about finding THE ONE perfect curriculum, because there isn’t one. And soon enough, you’ll find a good mix that is just right for you and your kids. I promise. =)
Love, Me (Ten Years Later)
P.S. Teaching High School isn’t nearly as scary as it seemed way back then, either.