I recently stopped by my old college town to show the kids the toad tunnel and I was amused to see all the apartment complexes sporting their "Reserve for next year!" signs. I remember how there was something about February that made all of us college students start restlessly searching for new roommates and new places to live, hoping that maybe this time we'd find the magic combination of cheap, close to campus, and a roommate that would always clean the bathroom and the kitchen. Alas, I was never successful in my search, but I remember that anxious and trying time well.
Funny how I still have that restless late winter angst... just now it is heralded by homeschooling catalogs and blogs. Now is the time to try this new curriculum! Use this plan and your days will go smoothly and beautifully! Look! Shiny and New, New, New! I must admit the siren call sounds but dully in my (five and a half year) veteran ears, but none the less there's still a few things that get me. I recently came across the Schola Rosa site and spent some time in investigation and thought before being able to come to a resolution. Thankfully I'm experienced enough to realize the futility of trying to start anything remotely coop-ish around here, but nonetheless, the Schola Rosa program at home has a definite appeal to my orderly mind. However, a good conversation with my husband and some journalling about the balance between memory training, useful knowledge, and trivia helped me to realize that while there is a strong place for memory work in our homeschool, it does not encompass lists of mountain types and prose paragraphs about historical happenings. I will be buying the Classical Catholic Memory timeline cards as they look like a nice addition to our Book of Centuries. I also think they will be a fun way to get the younger ones to start thinking about time and the sequence of history. I'm betting they will be more engaging and dynamic than my woefully underused timeline in the schoolroom. (Really, should I just take the thing down and stop getting frustrated about it? But every homeschool schoolroom has to have a timeline, right?!?)
I also wonder every year how on earth I'm going to have time to plan for the next year (especially since I'm going to - gack! - be adding another student). Last spring I had the opportunity to ask Laura Berquist how she found time to plan when she had little kids. She responded that her husband would take the kids camping for a long weekend then she would fit in a little more time here and there with the help of her husband and older kids. But then she added something to the effect of, but you don't need to do that, you can use use my lesson plans and you'll be all set. I wish I had asked, "but what if I don't want to use your lesson plans?"
I wonder too, "why oh why oh why can I not just submit to someone else's booklist and plans"? After all, it isn't like I'm just winging it, doing a little of this and a little of that - I am an educator who follows the methods of Charlotte Mason closely, and there are a number of good plans and possibilities out there that take her writings very seriously. So why do I have to create my own booklists, my own plans? Flexibility is part - I like to combine my kids and do a lot of reading aloud, something most plans do not accommodate. I also like to keep moving along our current historical path, which makes it hard to adopt someone else's plan wholesale. But I think that the biggest reason why is summarized in this wonderful post from Jenn at Wildflowers and Marbles about building a considered booklist, because a considered booklist is one where "I am able to consider our year, consider the children, consider the topics and points of interest along this year's educational journey." And so I will soon begin the booklist odyssey, selecting our books with care and consideration, reviewing all my various sources, thinking and praying and writing. And really? I'm looking forward to it.
If you are in the thralls of the late winter homeschool catalog dance, may I suggest you read Cindy Rollin's post? And please read about the Mad Mothers' Tea Party. And be sure to turn down your invitation, before it is too late!