Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jumping Ship

Before making a decision on what to use as our core curriculum this year, I did a lot of research, prayed, did more research, agonized, and then did eenie meenie miney mo before settling on My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures.  A month later I was regretting my decision but decided to plow ahead and give it a chance.

By mid-November I knew it was a poor fit for my family.  While the program is excellent, the academics solid, and the values in line with what I would like my kids to learn, the methodology of the program has been a total clunker.

Our biggest challenge is that the program's core method is the "read aloud."  Meaning, Mom reads their daily Bible, history, science, and geography lessons to them while they sit there listening.  Then they fill in worksheets that pertain to the lesson.  Sadly, the only child who is an auditory learner in our family is Joy, the child who was only listening in with no requirements to actually learn.  We would get to the end of the lesson and I would ask them the first question on the worksheet.  I was met with blank stares.

On the days where I thought they'd actually learned something, I'd ask them to share their new-found information with Daddy at the dinner table.  Again, blank stares except from Joy.  After months of this, it dawned on me that this is not the way my children learn.  They do much better with reading things for themselves, doing hands on projects.  Basically any method that does not include Mom reading them their lessons.  I pressed through and kept using it until the end of January when I finally decided enough was enough and set the program aside.

Since then we have reverted back to the Robinson Curriculum way of school.  Every day the kids do a lesson of math, a page of copy work or original writing, spelling, and then lots of reading from real books.  In the last two months David has read through twenty-six of the Tom Swift books plus many other books.  Lizzy is reading through the Arthur Scott Bailey animal books and stacks of informational books that she picks from the library.  Joy is doing math, penmanship, and phonics.  All of the children also have a daily prayer time utilizing Bibles at their individual reading levels.

My original plan was to stick with the simplified schedule until the fall when we would start a new program.  But the more I thought about it, the more it didn't make sense.  Why wait until the "official" start of a school year to begin a new program when I can just sell the old one and buy a new one.

A few weeks ago I ordered all new books, requested a bunch of necessary books from the library, and have been waiting for said books to make their appearance at our door or at our library (Oh Amazon Prime how you have ruined me for all other shipping methods that take a long time to get here--especially considering I bought most of the books used and have to rely on individuals to get them to me versus companies).

Joy started her new program last week and loves it.  I opted for Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts For His Glory, a program I used before with the older kids and really enjoyed.  As part of it, I have been reading The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton Burgess to her and somehow end up with two other kids surrounding us, all trying to answer Joy's comprehension questions for her.  "No, David.  You can't answer.  This is Joy's school." When I forget to cover her non-3 R's work with her, she pulls out the big red book (Teachers Manual for Little Hearts) and plops it on my lap.  "Do this with me, Mom."

The older two will be starting Heart of Dakota's Preparing Hearts For His Glory as soon as one more key book gets here.  I chose this program over a thousand other choices because I like the way they cover every school subject and many of the necessary skills all right there.  I don't have to come up with my own plans as it's all scheduled--which is really nice for this mom who isn't always the most creative teacher.  Plus, the program utilizes living books versus text books, gradually trains students to work independently, and includes projects that help them apply what they've learned.  It is very hands on, has the students do most of the reading independently (or can be made to be independent), and mainly has the parent assist on things rather than doing it all.

I know that some will disagree with me, but my goal for my children's educations is to train them to be self-educators.  By the time they reach high school, my hope is that they will be able to pick up a book and work their way through it independently.  That they will be able to teach themselves anything they want to learn.  With Mom always available for questions and help of course.  But the ultimate goal is for all of them to be completely independent learners.

This goes hand-in-hand with my desire to train my children to be independent, self-supporting adults.  To train them to cook, take care of their home, to be diligent and hard workers, to be self starters and self educators.  I want my children to expect to be handed nothing in life, to expect nothing to come easy, to always be ready to work hard for what they want.  If David wants to win the Pinewood Derby next year, then he can read the books on building a faster car and hone his skills with wood carving and axle filing between then and now.  I won't do the research or make the car for him.

Filing the axles for his car--
And yes, that is the "Mom, what are you doing?!" look.

I have visions of my kids teaching themselves Calculus (the fact that I would struggle through teaching it to him only has a little to do with that dream--Yes, I passed Calculus in college, but that was many moons ago and all that education has since been lost from neglect).  I don't want my children to need me to teach them what they want to learn.  Because they will learn it faster, retain it longer, and understand it better if they teach it to themselves.  The sky is the limit when you are able to pick up a book and teach yourself anything.

When Hubby's company offered him a big promotion if he transferred to the programming department and learned Cobol computer code, he read through a book and taught himself.  In the "real world" being able to self educate can mean the difference between a mediocre job and a promotion.

And this is where My Father's World and I parted ways.  I love being involved in the education of my children, but they are fully capable of reading their own books, learning their own material, and doing their own projects with minimal input from Mom.  My children prefer it as do I.

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