Friday, May 23, 2014

D is for Decisions

D is for Decisions
Decisions can be tough. Some more than others. When I settled on this topic for my Blogging Through the Alphabet post, I was thinking mostly of the decisions we're making related to homeschooling for the next year, but that's just a small sampling! Every day we need to decide how we're going to spend our time (personally, I don't always make wise decisions in that area!), what kind of attitude we'll have, how we'll react to the curveballs, and more. Never mind the decisions about what we'll make for dinner! There's another one I struggle with! 

But I'd better stick with just one aspect of decisions, or this will get much too long. I thought about decisions because I've just been to homeschool curriculum fairs and conferences, and I'm collecting the resources we'll need for next year. Deciding what curriculum to use, and what subjects to study can be daunting, especially for folks new to the whole homeschooling experience or new to homeschooling through high school. When we're looking over our options, these are some of the questions I ask to help narrow the choices and make the decisions:

-Does it line up with our worldview and values? There's no point in looking at a curriculum any further if it teaches something contrary to the truth or doesn't line up with the principles and values we hold. That's why praying about curriculum choices is the best place to start the decision-making process.

-Is this something my student wants to study, or something they are required to study? Ideally, kids would want to study subjects that are within the required credits, but in the real world that doesn't always happen. My boys are not big fans of Biology but they need a Biology credit to graduate. Given a choice, I don't think any of my kids would pursue Algebra just because they were interested in it, but it's a requirement. For those kinds of subjects, we try to find the curriculum that will get them through it efficiently, and maybe even spark their interest a bit. For the subjects that they enjoy, we look for curriculum that will build on that interest and make the most of it.

-Does the curriculum suit the student's learning style? Some kids learn effectively by reading the information, and others need to see and hear it in order to take it in. Some kids need to do hands-on activities to understand, and others don't care as much. Some kids love to read and study literature, some don't care for reading at all. Some kids do great with writing assignments, while others would rather shave their head with a rusty cheese grater. (Okay, that's a little extreme, but I think you know what I mean.) As much as possible, we are looking for curriculum that fits the way the student learns best. 
-What is the time commitment (for the student and for the teacher)? My son that didn't like to read would not have done well with courses that had him reading the material for hours at a time. We only have one internet-connected computer right now, so I need to consider whether a course will require lots of online time. It's going to be difficult if both students need the computer for several hours each during the school day, so that plays into our decision. How much teacher prep is required? How time-consuming will it be for me to grade the work?

-Is it worth the cost to us? And there is more to this than just the number on the price tag, although of course any decision will depend a great deal on how big a hit my homeschool budget will take from a particular purchase. Honestly, there are some things for which I'd be willing to fork out a little more money because my kid likes it and it works and it saves me time and trouble somehow. I really like non-consumable resources because more than one of my kids can use it, and that stretches my dollar. And when we are finished with something that's non-consumable, I can pass it along to someone else.

Wondering what decisions we've already made about the next school year? 

Kennady will do Lightning Lit Grade 8 (She wanted it, it suits her learning style, and therefore is worth the cost!). I asked her for input on choosing Science and Social Studies, and went with her preferences. She will study Meteorology (I already had most of the study materials!) and European geography/culture (after a long hunt, I found a very affordable study guide!). She will continue math using Life of Fred (another one that suits her learning style and so it's worth the cost to me.) and will continue with art and music as we've been doing.
Landon will be doing Notgrass Exploring World History, which covers History, Bible, and English/Lit. He'll also continue with VideoText Algebra. He already has his required science credits, so no science next year! He'll still be participating in Civil Air Patrol, which provides an elective credit, and he and Kennady will want to continue with the gym class as well.

Decisions still to be made
Landon needs to decide whether he'll get his required credit in Fine Arts this year, and how. I'm encouraging him to do the ARTistic Pursuits sculpture course we reviewed, but we'll see. He will need a grammar and composition course as well, and I *think* I've decided on one, but at this point we are waiting on that. The Notgrass course provides a lot of writing assignments, but we need to decide whether that will work for him or if we would rather get a separate resource. 
How do you make curriculum decisions? Have you made decisions for next year already? Leave a comment and let me know! This post is linked at Blogging through the Alphabet, hosted by Ben And Me.
Ben and Me

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Michele said...

This is a hard one for us too, this past year I felt we hopped around a lot. Feeling much more encouraged about the next year courses- Notgrass and Lightening Lit are among them! Excited to get started.

Kym said...

that's cool that we're using a couple of the same things!

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