Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thinking ahead

Gosh, I hate this whole planning thing. O.k., really I love it. But I hate that I love it. Does that make any sense?

I love daydreaming about who my children will grow up to be. As a homeschooler, that takes on an especially personal twist as I get to embark on the educational journey that will lead them into adulthood right alongside them. I think that's why I find myself thinking through my options each January, just like clockwork.

This current "school year" (2007-2008) will most likely be the last in which I combine all three children in the same SL Core. Try as I might, I just can't see how Logan is going to wade in the waters of Core 5 without major, major modification. While he's a far more avid fan of history than your average 5 year-old, I just can't see the use in spoon feeding him some of the topics I know we'll cover in Eastern Hemispheres--not when there's plenty he's glided right past way back in, oh, the general kindergarten arena.

Atticus could most likely keep lock-step with his sister and study Core 5 in his 3rd grade year. I don't doubt that one for a minute. But the question again is should he? At this rate, the kid will be ready for college at 13. Personally, I'd like to loop him back around and group him with his brother.

I have pondered and plotted and planned until I am blue in the face. Finally, I have come up with three potentially workable options for this fall:

  1. Jo studies SL Core 5, Atticus and Logan study WinterPromise Children Around the World.
  2. Jo studies SL Core 5, Atticus and Logan study SL Core C.
  3. Jo studies SL Core 5, Atticus and Logan study a cultural program that I make up on my own.

All three of these presuppose that Jo will be moving into Core 5 (a given) and that the following year, we will all meet back up for a combined SL Core 6 and Core 1 to study the first part of World History.

Of all of my ideas, I was most interested in option number 1. I have used several WP programs (Animals and Their Worlds, American Story 1 and Chess), though not always as scheduled. The AS1, for example, I pulled from as a way of making SL Core 3 workable for my family last year. Overall, I have been impressed with WP--especially their customer service. As a new company, though, I've seen that there are quite a few bugs that need to be worked out--not the least of which is a perpetual backorder on items and what I feel is a somewhat off-kilter rating scale for "grading" their programs and activities. Don't get me wrong, I like their stuff. In a few more years, I think they will be a great homeschooling curriculum supplier. Right now, they are still in the throes of growing pains.

Which brings me to the feedback I've been given on numerous homeschooling forums. Everyone says that Children Around the World is in need of some serious overhaul. As it's written, I'm told, the prep time is staggering, and the resources are not quite as self-explanatory as one might think in a pre-written curriculum. This sends the warning bells in my head clanging; this fall I will be teaching an 11 year-old with one program, my boys (who will be 8 and 6) with another and perhaps even juggling a toddler or two, God willing. Prep time? Huh-uh.

Option number 2 is to return to SL Core C. I have the old Core K, which I can upgrade at half price. I didn't buy the books way back when as we didn't have a pot to ... oh, you get the idea! :-) I used the library, and purchased only those items that I couldn't beg or borrow. It would be really nice to have those books and to go back over them with boys who haven't heard them. BUT ... Core C with Atticus, who was last tested at a 10th grade reading level? Even if I pull readers for Atticus from the library, would Logan even be interested in Core C? After all, this kid cut his teeth on Napoleon Bonaparte and Genghis Khan. Is he going to be satisfied with Living Long Ago?

All of which points to my third and final option ... the dreaded "do-it-yourself." Knowing me, what I would do is take the topics in Core 5 and water them down for my boys rather than take on the full-scale "Around the Globe" cultures program I was dreaming of for the year. I'm just an easy way out kind of gal, and that's the easiest way out, as I see it. :-) IF I start planning now and IF I plan out the whole year, then I could conceivably have a wonderful curriculum, geared specifically to my boys, on hand when we get to the end of SL Core 4. That's a lot of "ifs," isn't it?

So ... I don't know what to do. Keep looking and planning, I guess. Surely I'll figure something


KH said...

I'm such a newbie homeschooler that I feel sheepish chiming in here with my thoughts, but I too love to plan so I just can't resist... :-) Take anything I say with a huge grain of salt because I have half of one kindergarten year of experience going here. :-)

Hmm, I wonder if you sat down with your boys and gave them a little synopsis of Core C and ask if they thought it sounded interesting, what they would say? I wonder if they might have some creative ideas for making it work to their liking?

I'm thinking you are wise to calculate the addition of one or two youngsters into your family rhythm for the following year. My guess is that when he/she/they do come home, simplicity will be your new best friend. You never know how the transition will be for your new children, your present children, and for you and your husband. I'd say plan for wiggle room there...and probably avoid planning yourself into a situation that will require copious prep and resource-gathering.

If you do go with your Option #3, I'd say start planning tomorrow! You just never know when that phone will ring! :-)

Dawn said...

I'm in a similar spot with Sonlight right now. I started my daughter with Core 1 when she was in K. and now she is in 3rd grade. I'm just not wanting to do Core 5 with her next year which is where she'll be. I want to slow her down a bit. I'm also looking waaay ahead and wanting my kids to be doing Core 1 and 6 at the same time. So I'm might be making up my own curriculum next year. I'll be watching to see what you do- it sounds like you're a great teacher.

Sarah said...

FWIW, I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I must say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Core 5 and look forward to doing it again in a couple of years. I mean, I LOVED it. It is my favorite ever, and we've done them all through 100 so far. So, what I did was your option 3, and it really wasn't that difficult. Most of the read-alouds were too much for my younger ones, but they would have been only in preschool and grade 2 then. There were some of the read-alouds my 2nd grader enjoyed. BUT...I found absolutely loads of wonderful picture books for the younger two to go along with Core 5, and my older one enjoyed the books, too. We absolutely immersed ourselves in whatever country we were studying, including doing lots of crafts, cooking, and other activities, esp. from Enchanted We had a meal (at least one) every week from whatever country we were studying, and some of those recipes are still in our menu circulation here. (The Sonlight cookbook, which came out after we did Core 5, has fanTAStic recipes, btw. And you can get cheap ones at now.)One of the most fun things we did was celebrate Chinese New Year when we were studying China. We actually still have "fortunes" (Bible passages) above our doorways in the spirit of Chinese New Year!!
All that to say, I look back on our Core 5 year as one of the best ever, and the looking for those books at the library and searching out extra hands-on activities really wasn't terribly time intensive. Whichever way you go, it'll be fine!! I am going to do Core 5 with the younger 2 in a couple of years, since they hardly remember anything!

Sandy said...

Have you looked at My Father's World? They have a world cultures option that might work for you.

Kindred Blessings said...

Here's my random thought Cousin:

I think the boys will be bored with Core C. I know that you CAN develop your own program. You'd do a great job! The question is "Do you want to do that?".

Have you considered doing WP Sea & Sky with them next year?

Rachel said...

I'll second the recommendation to look at My Father's World. We are using their American History curriculum right now, planning to do the geography / cultures one next year. Sounds like, even though your boys are younger than the suggested age, it might be a good fit for your family... worth looking at, anyway!

If you have questions I might be able to answer, use the "contact us" form on my husband's web site ( I'll see it and get back to you!