Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gearing Up!

We have been busy getting locked and loaded for the upcoming school year. Yes it is early and yes I am a educational resource nerd. I enjoy perusing through educational material and weighing the pros and cons of each. We have been prayerfully, frantically, and realistically planning what we want to implement in our institute next term. We have a fairly good idea about what does not work for us at this time:

  • Curriculum that requires more planning time than implementation
  • Expectations that ALL material in a particular text/curriculum must be covered
  • Age specific materials in all subject areas
  • An exclusively computer based curriculum
Through the sometimes frustrating process of trial and error, we have come to the realization that efficiency is an important variable in our current life situation. When one parent (mom) is spending the majority of the teaching time with five children under the age of 10, preparation and implementation must be straightforward and expedient. We started our oldest with the Abeka curriculum. They have a great selection of materials that sufficiently challenged our son. The problem that we encountered was with the prep time. Part of the problem was with my expectations. I initially brought in the 'school' philosophy into the planning stages and thought that every. little. detail. had to be covered. There was a lot (math, reading, language arts, science, health, social studies) included in the Abeka program. Too much for us to devote sufficient time to plan and far too many assignments for a busy mom to realistically implement.

We were also feeling overwhelmed with trying to gather relevant materials for our 9, 7, and 5 year old. Multiple math, reading, writing, science, social studies, and character building materials for each child has proven to be a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the amount of paperwork generated from these busy little learners! Oh, and don't forget the 3 and 1 year old that demand attention for some strange reason :-)

In an effort to make things a little easier on us we invested in an Internet based program for our oldest son. Regretfully, I did not research this particular program as much as I should have and more importantly I did not heed some wise counsel from my wife. Initially, the program had several bugs and we spent quite a bit of time working through them. It was also picky about how answers were entered, which led to more troubleshooting (and frustration)! These issues coupled with our son's tendency to get distracted during the lessons have convinced us that an exclusively computer based approach is not right for us at this time.

Now for the positives....

At the behest of my wife, we did begin shifting towards a more literature based (Five in a Row) approach to learning. While not perfect, this has improved some of the challenges of teaching multiple learning levels. I am finally getting over my 'learnin' enough to see the benefits of a more classical style of learning. Teaching our children how to think and spending more time on character is far more important that filling their heads with a bunch of disconnected facts. We hope to further develop this methodology in the coming year.

We would love to hear from those who share similar family dynamics with us. What worked? What didn't?


  1. Thanks for setting this up, sweetie! It looks great, and I think it will be fun to use! "Green Institute of Learning", hmm? I like the sound of that! It conveys a mixture of eco-savvy and inexperience that I think fits us perfectly!

    (I know you were leaning towards "Behavior's School for Gifted Youngsters", and personally, I was rooting for "Warthogs School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"....

    ....but GIL works, too!) ;-)

  2. Have you guys come across Sonlight? I've always been interested in homeschooling and came across it for some reason while bumming around the internet. It looks like something I'd use and looks like fun. It's literature based and allows you to set up the same core for kids similar enough in age while adding appropriate material for each individual.

  3. Yes we have. It looks like a great literature based program. We are going to use Winter Promise this year (which is very similar). We will probably take a closer look at Sonlight when the kids get a bit older.

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