Monday, January 22, 2007

So now what?

What happens when my teaching style becomes incompatible with my sons' learning styles?

Lately I've been having trouble with school because I have no plan. I've been using a unit study curriculum for everything except math and language arts. For those of you unfamiliar with unit studies, basically you take a topic and you explore it from every possible angle: history, art, geography, science, music, etc. Once you've worn a topic to death, you move on. I thought this would be a great approach because then both boys could learn together. A regular curriculum would have me teaching all subjects separately by grade level, and I just don't have the time for that.

The problem is that I sit down in the morning with no idea what to teach. I just have this vague list of things, and a few activities, but no set plan. It's not that the unit studies don't come with one, I just can't seem to get organized enough to follow it. It takes too much planning on my part. I liked the pre-planned curriculum that told me exactly what to do each day.

But the boys thrive on the freedom of the unit study. The structure of a boxed curriculum was too tiring for them. And after all, I'm doing this for them, not me. But it's driving me crazy. The worst part of it for me is that the curriculum recommends this whole list of books, and our library doesn't even have a third of them. How can I follow the curriculum with no books? It would take so much time and effort to get them sent from other libraries, and I just don't have that kind of time or energy.

I really want to go back to the boxed curriculum with set lessons for every day and all the information right there, instead of bi-weekly trips to the library that turn up nothing I can use anyway. But I don't want the boys to become completely antagonistic towards school either. I actually heard my 10 year old say "I hate school" the other day. Boy, that really makes me want to continue the daily battles around here.

I know there's an answer here, I just can't see the forest for the trees. Too much structure, enough that I'm happy, and the boys shut down. Too little structure, and I can't get organized enough on my own to effectively teach anything. There's got to be a solution.


  1. Oh boy that does pose a dilema. When I need a book I go onoine and browse our library. If its ntothere it shows what library its at and then I just click the book I want and get notified by my library when its in. I dont have to do the searching myself that way.

    I really have no answer for the curriculum problem. I know I have to spend lots of hours in preparing Tinsk work. Theres so many great sites for unit studies. Our homeschool store has unti studies in packets already put together for you. Maybe you could find something like that.

  2. Thanks, Mrs. D. Our library is still in the nineties. You can look for books online, but you have to go to the physical library to get them ordered or reserve them or anything. >:( I have been looking for other unit studies, and I'm going to keep looking. Thanks for the supportive words!

  3. Wow, I didn't realize that it took that much work and preparation. But kudos to you for doing it! You think maybe there's some kind of co-op where other homeschooling moms share their plans so there's less work involved?

  4. I so don't envy your delimma. Perhaps you can take a "teacher work day" and use for your prep?

  5. What if you use the boxed stuff, but tailor it a bit so that it's more like the unit stuff...I don't know anything about what you have and are looking at, but it sounds feasible enough, and that way you know they're learning. Also, throw in fun things. They do a lot at my kids' after school program, simple things like exploding a bottle of soda with dry ice, and it teaches them things. My 5 year old told me all about it all!

    Does that help at all?

  6. Can you do both? - have days where there is structure and days where there arn't? Combine both styles.

  7. These are all great ideas!

    Sandy - we go to a co-op twice a year for ten weeks. But it's only one day a week. I don't know of any others around here.

    Cheeky - that's a good idea. I might do that on Mondays, since those tend to be the hardest to get through.

    Arlene - that does sound like a good concept. Maybe I'll go to the store and see what they have that I can use that way.

    Karmyn - maybe so. That's not a bad idea either!