A few months ago, I was ready to put all my kids in school. I felt like such a failure as a mother and a home educator. No matter which program I used, I could not teach Captain to read... No matter how many hours we spent each day on "school work," we could not get to it all... And no matter how hard I tried I could not achieve my goals.
As I sat there telling her how unorganized I am, while showing her my binder containing my schedules and curriculum lists, pointing out what we have done in the past, the goals I had set for this year, and how little of those goals were achieved, she listened, and then responded by saying:
You ARE organized. You ARE teaching your children. And, you are SETTING GOALS that you CAN'T POSSIBLY ACHIEVE!!!
She went on to say that, if I continue at this rate I will burn out
What we did achieve this year, was more than enough, especially given the circumstances, namely dealing with an Auditory Processing Challenge, and when I look at the overall year, even though we didn't finish everything I set out to achieve, my children have been learning and they have made wonderful progress! I should be a happy with our accomplishments!!
Laura told me that in the future, I need to set realistic goals, so that I can feel good about our progress, especially when we are able to go above and beyond those goals. Imagine that!!!
The problem is, that I want to do it all!! I want to design my own curriculum, and pick my favorite courses from each provider, and then add to that all the fun crafts that we do as we celebrate the liturgical year, and so on... But, I am finding that there are reasons that this program has extensive history, or that program has more science... It's because you CAN'T specialize in it ALL, every day.
Laura and I also talked about the various curricula. She basically told me that at this stage (K-3rd) the important thing, is that we are focusing on three things:
If we are doing these three things every day, it won't matter so much which program, or mix thereof, that we are using -- since the content is great in all the Catholic Curriculum's. (Content will matter more in later years.)
As far as scheduling goes, she suggested that I start our day with my youngest children. This will help these children to not feel neglected, as well as get them started on something to keep them busy while I am working with the older children. She suggested spending 15 minutes working of some sort of memorization work: memorizing a poem or working on art appreciation., and then getting them started on a workbook, coloring, or learning game. She also recommended having certain toys available to them only during "school" time -- which I do already.
The one thing that our current curriculum is lacking in is music. She told me that I need to work on making music a priority. I am not a big fan of Classical Music... I know, I should be!!! Laura actually game me a summer assignment. I am to start listening to Classical Music on a regular basic so that eventually I will be able to complete the chart of page 177 of her book. (Determine whether certain pieces are Baroque, Classical, Romantic or Modern? Can you tell who the composer probably is?) This should be interesting! She said that unless I can develop a love of Classical Music, it will be very hard to pass one on to my children... That makes sense. Luckily, my hubby loves Classical!
One of the biggest changes I plan on making this coming year will be cutting back on the quantity of subjects we are studying daily. I have decided that each morning we will focus on our core subjects, and then each afternoon we will work on "One Thing." I haven't planned it out yet, but I am thinking along the lines of History on Monday, Science on Tuesday, Art on Wednesday, etc... That way, we can delve into that one subject, and study it well for the week, rather than working on multiple subjects quickly and poorly.
Anyhow, this post is getting long, but I had told you all that I would share a bit about the conference... I will try and share a bit more later, but this is all I have time for now. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!