In School-proof, Mary Pride reminds me of the things I love about homeschooling, and of what is possible: the simplicity, the directness of the teaching, the wonderful eschewing of all-things-clutter.
One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that the kids and I get to make decisions about what we do, what we study, what we read and when we read it. My standing joke in our first year at home (after having my eldest attend Kindergarten) was that I would never again be caught off-guard by a last-minute note requesting three large soda bottles for a "fun and educational craft project." Such notes inevitably left me whining, "But we don't even buy those big bottles!"
In a chapter entitled, "Educational Clutter's Last Stand," Mary reminds us that an awful lot of what passes for curriculum is just busy work. As homeschoolers, we can easily identify busy work when a child is in school. But sometimes we lose sight of it when we become the teachers. All those delicious curriculum catalogs, those exciting ideas, the fun-and-educational projects ... they're so tempting, aren't they? And before we know it, we're the bad-guy, sending ourselves a last-minute mental note to scrounge up three large soda bottles. Yikes.
I like rereading Mary's book because she keeps me grounded in a simple truth. She says,
The secret is out -- the better teacher you get to be, the less you will need expensive curriculum and supplies. A beginning teacher can teach all her children to read with a prepackaged curriculum and have them reading years ahead in six months or less. A good teacher can teach phonics with a few simple readers, flash cards and a chalkboard. A great teacher can do it with library books and a pencil and ten sheets of paper! The difference is simply that the great teacher knows exactly where she is going and how to handle each roadblock or opportunity along the way.
My aim is to keep in mind exactly where our homeschool is going. Thus, "The Plan" I recently mentioned. Yesterday, I finished one stage of it: I gathered every science-related book in the house (and ended up with three stacks of books on the dining room table.) I sat down with my girls and talked about what they'd like to learn. I filled in a couple of gaps with suggestions of my own, and I found everything we'll need in those stacks. Books, ideas, resources, experiments .... I'll post the details later, but the point is that I don't need to buy any new science curriculum, tempting as it may be. I can craft a course of study from what we own and from library books.
It comes down to this: The main thing my children need from me can't be purchased. They just need me. My time and attention. Resources are easy to come by; commitment -- of my time and of myself -- is the key.
Tags: home education, curriculum, unschooling, education