Recalculating....



Last year Jason gave me a Garmin for Christmas.  I affectionately named it Carmin (you know Carmin the Garmin?).  Carmin doesn't always like me because I don't go the way she says.  When I take a different turn or fail to turn when she tells me to, she informs me in an irritated tone that she is "recalculating."

This is the time of year when all teachers- those of "real school" and those of us who homeschool- do a bit of recalculating.  For me that involves a long, hard look at the curriculum we are using and an evaluation of what each child is/is not doing.  Sometimes I start to doubt myself; and every year about this time, I ask the age-old questions, "Am I really teaching them enough?  Is being at home "good enough"?

So, here are some answers to my questions and some of my random thoughts while recalculating:

First, I keep a focus on why we are homeschooling.  Our main purpose in homeschooling is not academic achievement.  Yes, I would like it if my children excelled academically.  And, I do strive to choose curriculum and activities that I think will foster that.  But, ultimately, whether or not my children do well academically is beside the point.  Our goal as parents is to teach our children to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  (This is the chief end of man, after all.)  We feel led by God that homeschooling is the best way to accomplish this in our family- at least for now.  So, whether or not I've "covered" everything academic this year is not really the most important thing to consider.  Instead I should consider whether or not we are glorifying God in our schooling choices and teaching our children to do the same.

Secondly, I am considering what I think we've done well academically and what I think we need to spend more time on.

I LOVE the Further Up and Further In unit study that I have done with Kathryne and Charles this year.  The Chronicles of Narnia are some of my favorite reading, and I have enjoyed these books with the kids many times, so I have loved doing them as a unit study.

I've also enjoyed using Five in a Row with the little girls, and I feel like these little literature unit studies have been a good fit for us.

I think we've done well with fine arts exposure.  We are using The Art Auction Mystery to cover picture study.  We've all enjoyed this, and I know they've learned something because occasionally various children will point out or refer to famous artists.  We listen to Classics For Kids each week online.  Again, I think this has been a great tool to expose us to various musicians and their works.

Once again, I love our history curriculum.  I have found nothing I like better than Story of the World, and I know the kids learn because we can talk history and recall lots of what we've been reading.

Things I don't feel so good about:

Science- I like the science time group we've done with the big kids this year, meeting with other homeschool friends for science experiments twice a month, but I feel like we aren't really covering much science.  Topics are often touched on in our unit studies but not covered with any depth.

Rachel- I feel like she gets the least of my time and is not doing much of anything except playing.  She does do literature with Ashlyne.  She takes part in our math meeting each morning, and she does phonics and math workbook pages.  But, sometimes I'm just not sure what, exactly, she's getting.  Of course, I encourage myself that I felt like this about Ashlyne last year, and this year she has really taken off in phonics and math and is reading much more independently.

Shakespeare- Reading Shakespeare is pretty important in a Charlotte Mason teaching philosophy.  The kids and I have puttered through Tales from Shakespeare by the Lambs and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Nesbitt for the last two years.  They are at least getting some exposure.  But, I know the big kids need to be really reading real Shakespeare, and I just can't seem to find a good way to make the transition.  It is just easier to keep reading the easier stories, so I can read to all of them together.

So, there's my spring evaluation.  I am really looking forward to going to the homeschool convention in March this year- the Southeast Homeschool Convention- instead of waiting until the summer.  I am hoping to be refreshed and renewed and come away with some good ideas as I continue to constantly recalculate to meet our needs.

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