It's no secret that I'm not an advocate for bailing on curriculum midway through the year. In truth, sometimes, it's not the curriculum that is the problem. (This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)
But, I also know that a thorough evaluation midway through the year, is a necessary and beneficial venture. I never want to be tied down to a sinking ship. So each year, come January, or sometimes before, I take a quick assessment of what IS or IS NOT working in our school day. I make changes accordingly.
Sometimes those changes come in the form of scheduling tweaks and sometimes in curriculum refinements.
This year, there is a little bit of both. After an evaluation our 2013-2014 curriculum choices, I've made the following changes:
Blonde Warrior (1st grade) absolutely loves his Hear Me Read Bible (a fantastic Bible for emergent readers), but has read through it over a dozen times already this year. While perusing the book aisles of a local thrift shop, I found a copy of Now I Can Read Favorite Bible Stories, an out of print emergent reader Bible. He's now enjoying all the same Bible story favorites, but with a new twist.
In addition, it has been the pattern of our home that everyone two and above who is not able to read a Bible on their own for personal devotions is encouraged to just look through the pictures of a story book Bible and try to retell the stories to him/herself. But, after watching the excitement of Greased Lightning (preschool) as he opened his Preschooler's Bible for his gift of Myrrh this past Christmas, I decided that our pattern needed to change. I enlisted the help of my oldest three kids to make the change.
We each agreed to take turns each morning reading one of the stories out of Grease Lightning's new Bible to both him and The Newbie. The older kids count this as their own devotions for that day and the Littles enjoy some special time with their siblings or momma AND the Lord each day.
Morning Group Time
We started our year by reading a short selection from You Can Change the World each morning during our group time. It was a chance to be able to learn more about the countries we have been introduced to at our Geography Club and also grow a heart for the spiritual condition of people groups around the world. But a few months ago, we were given a used copy of Window to the World and decided to continue our learning with this book instead. Although still a terrific resource, You Can Change the World was a bit out of date and only contained illustrations, not real photographs. Window to the World is basically a revised version of the original, but with accurate photos.
We are still happily plugging away and nearing the end of our Ancient Greece study from one of my favorite curriculum choices of our entire homeschooling journey, TruthQuest History. But, I have added one book to the mix...the Rose Book of Bible and Christian History Time Lines.
In the last two years, my daughter has grown an insatiable appetite for God's Word and is learning to use it as a grid for every area of her life. Not surprising, she has begun a quest to match up our study of Greece with Old and New Testament happenings. For months, I have heard, "What was going on with the Israelites when all of this was happening in Greece?"
"Ummmm...let's google it." was my constant reply.
Unfortunately, Biblical vs. Rest-of-the-world history is not always the easiest thing to locate on-line. So, a month ago, I made a snap decision to buy this expandable time line book to keep as a quick reference for her...and the rest of us. She can whip it out, find the date in question, and know at a glance what God and His people were up to at that time.
While I love ABeka Phonics readers for their phonetical consistency and trustworthy content, from the perspective of a mother with BOYS learning to read and struggling through one fluffy, girly story after another, they had to go! I want all of my children to develop a love for the written word. In order to do this, I have to provide them with age-appropriate, skill-appropriate, AND content-appropriate books. Nothing will fizzle a fire quite like mediocrity in any of these three categories.
So...out with the old and in with the new! I packed away all my ABeka readers for another time and another place and have gathered a basket of boy-themed adventure stories from the library that I know will captivate my ALL-BOY boys.
I've also made a small tweak in HOW we spend our reading time. The boys still must read at least one chapter of a story out loud to me each day. In addition, they now must also spend 15 minutes each afternoon reading quietly to themselves. This new "rule" has not only provided some much needed reading practice, it has also helped to foster some QUIET in our not-so-quiet learning spaces.
My little girl is growing up! After spending the past three years learning cooking basics, she's now ready to venture out on her own in the kitchen. Following a week-long stint of surprising mom with breakfast in bed, she has proven that she can prepare a menu, follow a recipe, and handle kitchen gadgets correctly. So, from here on out, she will be assigned a bi-weekly meal to plan, prepare, and serve entirely on her own. I've told her that she can scour my Pinterest Boards for new recipes, make family favorites, or utilize my recipe book shelf. But, the selection is up to her. She'll need to make a grocery list for necessary items, help shop for these items (with mom's wallet, of course), and whip it all up with a smile.
This new endeavor starts next week. She's so excited to be given such "big girl" responsibility and looks forward to creating some culinary masterpieces!
Pheww...those are a lot of changes!
But, in the end, I know that each tweak and refinement of our homeschool day brings us all closer to a life-time love of learning. Ultimately, after all my best laid plans have been boxed up and set aside, my all-grown-up children will probably not remember my failed PLAN As. I hope, instead, that they will remember that I cared enough about them and their individual learning to formulate a PLAN B.
Got any Plan Bs in the works?