Keeping it Simple
Through the years, I have found that the way I approach choosing curriculum has changed. When my children were young, I used a thematic unit study approach to teach most of their subjects. It required some research on my part, but it was a simple strategy. It provided for many opportunities to expand on topics and follow trails to other topics of interest. Plus, it was fun!
However, now that my oldest son is a high schooler, I have switched to more traditional methods. Feeling the pressure of what I think he needs to learn, I rely on textbooks like never before. It wasn’t until I allowed my son to choose his sophomore science class this year, that I realized how much I had forgotten about keeping it simple.
I realize that I could have chosen a traditional science course, like biology or chemistry, but I wanted my son to choose. I thought that by choosing the topic, it would increase his interest and responsibility toward his education. He chose botany. Initially, I thought this was great! I’m an avid gardener; so I looked forward to learning alongside him. Unfortunately, the curriculum offerings for high school botany were slim. There were many options for younger students and college students, but not for high school students. So, I purchased a college level book with the hopes that I could use it to teach at his level.
The first few weeks of botany were fine. The reading level was fine and the material was not complicated. Unfortunately, this didn’t last. It wasn’t long before both of us were losing interest. It was not working, and it was not fun. Still, I forged ahead. Even though I sensed my son was beginning to regret his science choice, I selfishly ignored it. I pridefully didn’t want to quit, and I didn’t want to “waste” the purchase of the curriculum. When God opened my eyes to my selfishness, I had an honest discussion with my son. We talked about why he had initially chosen botany and brainstormed ways to proceed. He had hoped for a more hands-on class with lab work and research. I had chosen a complicated textbook, and he had wanted a simple approach. We decided to begin again.
Thankfully, his interest in botany is now rekindled. He is performing experiments and researching ideas. He is learning from his interest instead of memorizing vocabulary. Sometimes, we need to re-evaluate choices in our homeschools. Are we teaching a certain way because it’s the way that’s most familiar or most accepted by our peers? One of the blessings of homeschooling is being able to customize the education of our children to what works best for them. I had forgotten this blessing. I hope you don’t make that same mistake. But if you do, it is never too late to change direction.
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer and editor. Her background includes professional teaching in the area of mathematics, as well as writing and editing for several educational publishers. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons on her website, SharedLessons.org.