Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Season to Plan

Spring, for homeschooling moms, is Planning Time! Here are a few things that I've learned through the years from trial and error.

  1. Planning season should be fun. It's a magical time of year -- new thoughts, new ideas, a bright and unclouded horizon of the future. Relish it and save some of the magic for the inevitable cloudy day.
  2. If some curriculum doesn't work for you (the mom) and it isn't the sort of thing your kids will do unsupervised or by choice, you might want to pass said curriculum on to someone who WILL use it. Maybe you can plant some seeds in their planning fields while plowing and renewing your own.
  3. Don't feel obligated to buy something or research something just because other people are excited about it. Do what's right for your situation and your kids.
  4. You don't need to spend a whole lot of $$$ to give your kids a good education. My standard -- is this curriculum more worth the money than chocolate? or a great book?
  5. If you are getting discouraged and overwhelmed, try simplifying. I always remind myself of the nuns who gave classrooms of 40 plus kids a thorough education using wornout spellers and readers. Sometimes cash spent almost seems to have an inverse relationship to quality of education. Marva Collins wrote "Anything works if the teacher does." See #2.
  6. In my experience, teaching myself has paid off more largely in educating my kids than buying something that will teach them. Sure, sometimes a simple educational resource is wonderful as a stopgap. Sometimes, a few usable quality resources are almost indispensable in extending your mother's reach if you have several children to teach and have some gaps in your own education, as who doesn't? But reading, studying and learning new things is generally a more rewarding strategy for my homeschool than buying some curricular Cadillac that requires disempowered reverence from me.

My recent foray, going through piles of books and weeding drastically, has reminded me of something I learned first when Aidan was in the hospital at San Francisco and our family had moved there to be close to him. Reading Little House in the Big Woods to Paddy recently reinforced it. There is a positive beauty in sparseness. I think it relates to what Jesus said about the camel and the needle. ... usually His spiritual wisdom has a natural corollary, as well it should, since He made the world.

What do I do when I have 10 choices in everything? Well, I hesitate between them and often can't ever pick on one. Sometimes I even go and acquire #11 so I can have even MORE choices.

On the other hand, what do I do when I need something and don't have it? Well, I figure out a way to improvise. Sometimes an equivalent falls into my lap fortuituously. Sometimes I devise something. Instead of the restless feeling of having 10 choices and wanting 11 or 12, I feel grateful or creatively energized. These are abundances, whereas plenty with that restless feeling is a deprivation.

I think we can take things of the spirit, like gratitude and creative energy, through the eye of the needle with us. But we can't take this or that huge whopping resource. Instead, we have to carry those on our back, and go the long way.

Pruning a rose bush seems contrary to fruitfulness, yet it is necessary in order to have flourishing blooms.

These are some things I've been reminding myself recently, so I'm putting them down to remember them.


Laughing Stars said...

Great post!

PisecoMom said...

Well put.

And I have to laugh, because "is this worth more than the chocolate this money would buy?" seems likely to become my gold standard for choosing new materials!

Amy said...

These are great points. I wish I had read them 8 years ago. :)

I especially like #4, too.