I bet you thought I was never going to get to Part 2, did you? Well, here I go. My thoughts are a jumble tonight, however, so there's no guarantee any of this will make sense.
As I mentioned before, we attended the MACHE annual conference in Duluth last month. One of the key attractions of the conference is the very large and very overwhelming curriculum fair. Imagine a very large conference center room flooded with every type of homeschool parent you can think of -- from the "be free earth mama" to the buttoned up, bearded Amish father -- packed with booth after booth of options on how to homeschool your children. Imagine all of the books! Shelves and shelves of books everywhere you turn! How are you supposed to pick the best ones for you and your child?!!?
Can you tell I was feeling a little inundated?
I had done my homework before attending the conference. I had heard there were too many options available to look at them all, so I took the time beforehand to try to figure out my teaching style, identify Rae's learning style, and narrow down my options to 3-4 curriculum to get my hands on. I felt prepared and confident. But once I got there, I was sucked in by all of the amazing options, many of which I had never even heard of before. By the end of the weekend, I was feeling more unsure about what I'm going to do with Rae in the fall than when I started.
Then it hit me -- this is supposed to be fun. I was feeling all of this pressure to pick a curriculum, do a bunch of research, and have a plan ready to go. I was stressing over whether I should do a preschool or kindergarten curriculum, whether it should be 4 or 5 days a week, and what math program I should use. But as I attended the sessions, almost all of the speakers were repeating the same thing: stop stressing and have fun. If you're not enjoying this, your kid probably isn't either! It defeats the whole purpose if your children end up hating school. The goal is to develop Biblical character traits and a love of learning.
Rae just turned four in February. There is no reason to jump into some big, official curriculum right away. We may sample a little from here and there and see what works well for us; but mostly we are just going to practice getting into the habit of doing school a couple days per week. It will be fun stuff -- not stressful. We'll turn over rocks and talk about bugs. We'll read stories from around the world, then find them on the map. We'll make patterns with marshmallows, then add them all up before we eat them. It will be fun, and hopefully, Rae will love to learn.
So, with that said, my "plan" for this fall is to...
1.) Get in the habit of setting aside time for school 3-4 days per week.
2.) Practice some reading & handwriting, but not push it
3.) Do lots of reading out loud with the girls, especially classic childrens' stories & the Bible
4.) Have fun!
When Rae is five, we will start kindergarten. She is "past" preschool (colors, shapes, letter recognition, etc.), but I don't want to turn her off to school by jumping right into kindergarten at age 4.
And just for you curious ones out there, here are some of the curriculum I've been looking into for once we DO get going.
-Heart of Dakota
-5 in a Row
-A Reason for Handwriting
-Spell to Write & Read
-Charlotte Mason approach
Here are some photos from a day at the park last week!