Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reflections: The Beginning of a New Year

September is such a wonderful month!  I start pining for fall and the start of a new school year in, oh, probably July.  And I so enjoy shopping for pens and pencils and notebooks that it is almost ridiculous!  Some mothers drink tea or get a massage when they are stressed.  I shop for pens.  I suppose that's the writer in me coming through.

Anyway, we almost threw in the towel on homeschooling last year.  I was convinced that the kids weren't learning anything and that it would be better for them all to be in school.  So we started looking into private schools, but the promise of astronomical, budget-busting tuition was enough to make me return to take a hard look at why I was so unhappy with homeschooling.

After some scrutiny and self-examination, I realized that I wanted a program that was more enjoyable to teach, that was flexible and not overwhelming for the boys, and that had a minimal workbook component.  After a discussion with some friends of ours, they recommended that I look into The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell.  I borrowed their copy, read it cover to cover, and fell immediately in love.  Here at last was a curriculum designed with me in mind!  The promise of "much, not many" appealed to me, as did the classical philosophy behind the design.  And so, after explaining its many advantages to my husband, I charged ahead.

Not that I was without qualms.  Being without a prepackaged curriculum for the first time made me nervous.  Would I be able to plan my own lessons?  Could I set my own pace?  And the fearful delight of choosing a math program set my motherly heart a-flutter.  I gathered myself together and chose and planned...carefully.

We are now into our second week of the new school year, and I am glowing from the harvest I am beginning to reap!  The boys are actually excited about school for the first time in years!  It is delirium scarcely to be imagined.  More than just their enthusiasm, they are actually learning and retaining what they are learning!  My husband is beside himself with relief and joy.  And I am content. 

There is one thing that I have realized in the last several months, as I have weaned myself from prepared curricula.  Homeschooling requires mother's full attention.  At least, it requires mine.  When I tried to teach my children while my attention was fragmented between this and that side pursuit, I was frustrated and impatient ~ which meant that my children were frustrated and impatient.  Sacrificing six hours of my day (at least) to teach my sweet boys is indeed a sacrifice, but I find such joy in the time I spend with them, watching them learn and grow!  And I find that I have quiet time to myself in the afternoons after all, when I can recharge my own batteries.  It is wonderful in strange and unexpected ways.  An everyday miracle.

God willing, it will be a fabulous year!

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