I often times receive questions from moms that ask me how I handled certain real life homeschool situations. I’m thinking my answer to the email below might be something that would benefit other moms who read the Harmony Art Mom blog. I think she expressed a common homeschool situation and I tried to give her my honest feedback that may help you too.
I just don’t know how to pare things down and still cover the most important stuff! Do you have any suggestions? And really, what is THE MOST IMPORTANT stuff, with all the subjects out there, we can’t possibly cover it all.
Okay, now to be really honest– I do have several close homeschooling friends, but the main reason I am reaching out to you is that so much of what you hold dear as most important in your home school days I can relate to. I just need help figuring out how to get to the side you were able to get to and I am not sure I know where to start. I feel barraged at times with all the things I could teach them and all the time it takes to cover material well.
I just about cried seeing your pinterest boards because I think deep down, it’s where we need to be with our schooling but I find it hard to incorporate notebooking, nature studies, art and music. I am really inspired by the resource lists you’ve provided on Amazon and your Squiddo lens (now found on Hubpages)- so helpful. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart. So much wonderful food for thought.
Here’s a question: When you have your kids verbally narrate or write a response to their reading, how do you know it is good? Sometimes, I use Sonlight’s reading and comp questions and my kids can’t answer them. If they write a summary, I’ve noticed many times a lot is left out and the main points are not covered.
Another thing that I am dumbfounded about is that we had the book, Around the World in 80 Days to read according to our Sonlight schedule and one of my kids finally spoke up and told me she couldn’t understand any of the words- I told her to put the book down and we’d move on from there. It was discouraging though because I always have to wonder about what level is right for my kids. They couldn’t comprehend it at all.
Okay, I apologize for rambling! I hope you are in a season of life where you can give a few brief points of advice to me, I really appreciate your time and your heart for homeschooling that you’ve shared over the years. I’m sure you have blessed a lot of people, including us!
Virtuozo by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky
Here is my response:
First of all, I totally understand how overwhelming it can be to face homeschooling choices that all seem to be great and you want to include them all. If you have read my posts, you know that I evolved my ideas over time and would many time times mid-year have a crisis. I think that is all a sign of a teacher who is learning how to adapt to circumstance and your student’s needs. It is a good thing.
Just a first thought. Around the World in 80 Days is hard. We tackled it together in high school. Plus the first time we went through it we did it as a book on tape.…which helped with the language and vocabulary quite a bit. If your girls tell you the book is too hard, read it with them for a bit and see for yourself. There were books we crossed off our list because they were too hard to get through. Remember you are trying to instill a love of reading and learning and if they absolutely hate a book it’s not the end of the world.
School Girls by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky
You know what your family’s “important stuff” is so make a list and plan out the next four years for your 9th grader…a tentative plan to include all the things you think she should cover. Then make sure it is reasonable. A couple of hard courses a year is a good goal. If you are leaning towards a Charlotte Mason sort of education, divide the books up into small bites and read slowly and expect oral or written narration every day. I tried to take my child’s interests and strengths into account and their long term goals when I was picking what was important. In high school I let them help pick courses too and that made them more invested.
Garden in the Rue Carcel by Paul Gauguin
The trick to making your homeschool more like mine is to plan and implement some afternoons each week that you all can do art, music, and nature study together. Academics are great but you are also homeschooling your children so you can allow some freedom for just being a kid and family. Give yourself permission to take even a couple of hours each week to take a nature hike and don’t expect anything except to explore and maybe grow into using a nature journal. Take it one step at a time.
Pull some art books from the library or view art online together. Listen to some classical music online and drink tea and just enjoy. See where it takes you. It will end up being your family’s thing or it won’t but you won’t know unless you try. Just add one thing at a time and don’t get overwhelmed. There should be some joy or it isn’t worth all the work.
I think IEW will greatly help with your narration problem because his plans are not just about writing. They help the student get the main ideas and articulate them on paper. I highly recommend IEW to all homeschooling families.
Hopefully this helps and you can get going again. I had my moments during my homeschooling years but I found just changing up one thing sometimes was enough to make me feel more successful.
All the best to you,
If you have a homeschooling question, you are always welcome to email it directly to me and I will answer as best I can. firstname.lastname@example.org
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