Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Nineteen: Don't Make Me Do Workbooks!

The speaker's message resounded in me like a pounding drum and I was nearly taken with the simplicity and seeming authenticity of it all. However, what I know to be true of my children  also pounded in my heart--a competing beat vying for a place alongside this "new" philosophy. Near the end of the year, the homeschool convention is more than just an avenue for purchasing next year's curriculum; it's where parents can be redeemed from curricula that proved less than successful and they are encouraged in various seminars that there is more than one way to educate our children. So there I sat, with a couple of "unbudgeables" that have always worked for us but also some questions that just weren't going away. Was I reaching my children through each of their learning styles? Was I adding too many subjects? Not enough subjects? Since we have freedom as homeschoolers to choose our own educational materials, the task can be liberating and overwhelming at the same time. The message that blared charismatically from the podium seemed intriguing. It subtracted much parental work and focused on the main three areas of study for every child: writing, reading and math. I began to mull it all over as I drove home barely in time for supper.
spotting owls--our fave!

Later that week, however, somewhere between church and home, Oliver called out from the backseat, "Mommy, please don't make me do anymore workbooks. They don't teach me anything." The girls piped in with their agreement of his statement and for a minute, I sat silently rolling between the white and yellow lines, trying to steady my thoughts and my vehicle. Where did this come from and what exactly was he saying? Suddenly, I found myself in a curriculum debate with my children and although I defended their workbooks and tried to justify their value, I was amused by my kids' passion. Workbooks and textbooks have their place in our homeschool for two reasons: first, to cover all of our bases (details that might be missed in a unit study), and second, to maintain the flow of education during a lull in our thematic studies or a season when important things in life cause us to stop the afore mentioned studies. While they are essential for some families, for us, they are an "easy" fix for an educational blockage or deliberate break from the style we prefer.

Nine years of home educating, has taught me that as different as each of my children are from each other, they also change from year to year in their abilities and desires for how to learn. Although, I am ultimately in charge of their learning, I revisit our materials at the end of spring to see if anything should be changed up. This particular trip in the truck taught me that my kids actually care about the methodology. Oliver's realization that workbooks weren't working for him was a surprise to me and I am taking him seriously. He's not one to flounder or complain about a book simply because he is not in the mood for it. My heart drummed again with the same knowledge that beats rhythmically year after year: my children thrive under thematic learning. Once again, I was driven to plan and prepare an exciting curriculum not based on advice from keynote speakers or philosophical readings for home educators, but by my children's straightforward requests. 


Camille said...

This is one of my favourite posts in this series my friend...thank you for sharing your heart and insights...you are a blessing! Hugs! Camille XO

Heather said...

Thanks, Camille. What a learning curve it's been! Blogs are great for dumping our thoughts, aren't they?