Confession: After many years of home schooling, I still am insecure about my teaching.
Which is why I have stuck with curriculum sets that include teacher’s guides and plans. Until this year. This year I’ve ventured out with some unit studies–to the utter delight of my children.
Let me tell you a story as an example of how far I’ve come from my norm this year:
We saw A Dolphin Tale in September. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, so I set aside my teacher’s book for a couple of days to do the unit study that is offered by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium offered to go along with the movie. That was nice; that was enjoyable.
Fast-forward to Christmas break. My sister just happens to live in Florida–near Clearwater, in fact. And we went to visit them for Christmas. And the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is where Winter, the dolphin from the movie, lives. And we got to see her, along with the other rescued animals they have there. And my 5th grader was so completely enthralled, she informed us she is going to be a marine biologist when she gets older.
At that point, I had a choice. I could have said, “That’s great honey,” and treated it as just so much childhood fantasy, going back to “school as usual” after Christmas break. But (this time) I didn’t. I said, “I think that sounds like a great career choice for you. You love to swim and be in water, you love animals, you’re very compassionate, thorough, detailed, and creative. I think you would do well at being a marine biologist!”
When we resumed our school year after the break, I searched for unit studies that had everything to do with oceans, marine animals, and careers. A huge shout-out to Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett and Hands of a Child for helping me out!
My daughter looks forward to school now. NOW! She’s a 5th grader! It honestly took me that long to figure this out.
I am in no way, shape, or fashion implying that using a curriculum set is bad or wrong! But, I would like to challenge you (and myself) to not always stick to what makes US, moms and teachers, most comfortable.
We haven’t completely gotten away from curriculum. We still do math, language arts, and geography. But my entire outlook and focus has changed. When one of my girls mentions an interest in a subject, we take some time to dive into that for a while. (I had one who talked about wanting to design roller coasters someday–there’s a unit study for that!) What a joy to see them light up with excitement! I am learning to let go of the “agenda” more often and go where curiosity and delight take us.
Lisa is an Army Chaplain’s wife who eats a lot of dark chocolate, loves winter, enjoys getting to know other home school moms, is learning how to be a godly wife, mother, and teacher, and can most often be found sitting curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. She blogs regularly at The Army Chap’s Wife and can be found tweeting at anarmychapswife and on Facebook.