Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's Planning Time

One of the pitfalls of working for a homeschool curriculum company is the tendency to become lazy about planning for your children. When we first began homeschooling Isaac 5 years ago, my favorite part of it all was the planning and studying different curriculum. When we decided to jump back into it we were kind of late in the game and I thought, "Great, it is all at the Press. I'll just hop in the car and go look through a few things and make my purchases." During this year we realized we would need to make a few changes. Not many, but enough that I had to put a little more thought into it. One of the benefits of what we do is that I am privileged to talk with multiple homeschooling families on a weekly basis. So, when I had to make my changes I had talked with enough people, including my employer, and was able to make a pretty quick, but educated decision. I realized how blessed we are to be where we are. You see, 5 years ago we had no one to turn to. We knew we wanted a classical education for our children, but we did not know anyone who was doing it. I do not even know how we were put on the mailing list, but one day a Veritas Press catalog showed up in the mailbox. We took their word for it and put in our order. I know there are those who are where we were then. I talked with someone the other day who is there. My advice to her was do as much research as you can, but do not feel the need to reinvent the wheel. You will drive yourself nuts. When you find something good, just do it. There is always something better and you will continue to jump from curriculum to curriculum if you are not careful. I do not feel curriculum jumping is good for the student. Each company has a different goal and I am afraid you will find holes in your children's education if you do not pick something and stay with it. Of course each child has different needs and you will need to temper this advice with what you believe your child needs at different times. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to shape the schooling around the child's individual needs.Lastly, find a trustworthy source for advice. Most curriculum companies now have yahoo groups and employees who will give phone consults. If you were to walk into Veritas Press pre-catalog stage, you will find tables spilling over with stacks of books and curriculum. That is what is read before the new catalog goes to print. They also hand out some of the good stuff for families to try and give their opinions. We happened to be one of those families this year and found some great things. They also have master teachers of the field look through the books. If they find something better, then they add it. When I first saw this process I realized they do not just pick something and sell it. They literally look at everything out there and then make an educated opinion. It was then that I decided to do my own research, but to also trust those who have done more research than I will ever have time to do. I am sure most companies go about this the same way. If you feel overwhelmed with all of the choices out there, find someone you trust and ask for help. I find the Spring the most difficult time of year for schooling. We are ready to be done with this year's work while having the stress of making next year's decisions. It is important to remember two things. 1. Why did you start this in the beginning? When you are struggling with what to do next, remember your original goal. It may change through the years, but going back to the beginning is sometimes enough to give you that extra push. 2. Remember your end goal. If you know where you came from, and you know where your going, it will make your decision making process a lot easier.

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