Using our kids as guinea pigs during the writing process does prove to be somewhat of a challenge. Trying to write the curriculum a bit at a time but in time for each new week means that when we take weekends to do something together, I'm left with very little lesson-planning time, let alone curriculum writing time.
For non-homeschoolers, maybe I should explain a little bit about lesson-planning vs. curriculum writing:
Lesson-planning, in my mind, is the process of fitting all the lessons I want to teach this week into a written plan around doctor's appointments, play dates, chess classes, practices, church events, travel, etc. I do my lesson-planning in a spiral-bound calendar with a lot of room for writing. I do it in pencil, because we can't always predict an impromptu opportunity for doing something else instead (like, oh, Mom's sick and cannot be upright for the entire day or Mom's feeling claustrophobic in the house and wants to take everyone to the zoo instead) and may need to move some lessons around to other days.So, for example, when I plan our lesson for the following week, I write down which math assignments I want each child doing for each day of the week. Then I add the assignments for reading, writing, language arts, geography, science and social studies. Now this year, our science and some of our social studies, art, writing and reading are coming from the Human Body curriculum I'm writing a bit at a time.
Curriculum writing, from what I've learned so far, is about sorting through and pulling together multiple resources in order to teach a particular lesson. It's about writing out a step-by-step plan for teaching something -- in a way that's interesting, fun and addresses multiple learning styles. It isn't set up in a calendar, per say, but I do outline Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc., leaving the assignment of certain weeks to fall in line with wherever it works in our (or if this gets into other teachers' hands, their) lesson plan.
Bible studies are coming from our devotion and some My Father's World. Geography is coming from My Father's World curriculum and Maps curriculum. Math is coming from Math-U-See and some practical life situations. Language arts is coming from a variety of sources (many of them free printables available online). Everything else we teach is just ad hoc as I find cool stuff to use in the classroom, online or in the world or whatever. We do unit studies, too, when we find something really interesting all of the sudden and want to delve in deeper.
Since My Father's World and Math-U-See and Maps are already packaged curriculum that is pre-written by someone else, it's easy to plug their teaching suggestions into my lesson plan each week. But in order to plug in the stuff from my Human Body curriculum, I have to write it first!
Lesson-planning (in years when I'm not also writing a curriculum), usually takes me a couple hours over the weekend prior to each week. I do have weeks when I wing it because there wasn't time over the weekend or it's a short week and we're just filling a couple days before a holiday or whatever. But generally, I feel more organized and motivated when I take the time to pray about and plan our lesson plan for the week.
When I add in the time for curriculum writing, the whole process with lesson-planning can easily fill about 10-18 hours. Or more. As you might imagine, a mom of five who watches and drives her nieces around and who actually enjoys time spent with her husband, really doesn't have 10-18 hours of time in big, useful chunks to write curriculum and lesson plan.
That being said, we are currently in our tenth week of school this year and we have only completed testing out weeks 1-4 in the Human Body curriculum. I haven't yet written week five. Sigh.
At this rate, this curriculum may take two years to write, test and teach. Or more. However, I'm okay with this. While it's not ideal or what I had planned, I'm still finding the process of writing the curriculum really interesting. I'm learning a lot. The kids are actually enjoying the pace we're going at and everyone is less stressed about school.
A great thing about homeschooling is the freedom we have to move at our own pace. Our kids are learning a lot about the human body this year, but they've also been learning a lot about many things. There is no lacking education in the big picture of our lives, as far as I can tell.
So I'm just excited to be continuing our homeschooling journey. I want to keep watching where it leads and if we end up with a viable curriculum to make available to other homeschoolers out there -- awesome. But I know that God's in charge of our hours and days. I can't justify hiding away from my family to get more done so they can learn stuff at a faster clip ... because in the end, what would they be learning about me and my priorities? That's the more important lesson at this point in their lives.
Meanwhile, we have spent most of October learning about the presidential election process in preparation for election day tomorrow. I was thrilled to see J making signs for fun this morning to hang around our homeschool room today telling everyone to "Vote Now." She has very little understanding of the big issues facing our country or the next president, but she has a basic understanding about who is running, how they are elected and our responsibilities as citizens of our nation. She has enthusiasm about it, too! I think that's a great start for an 8-year-old.
Tomorrow we vote. I hope you take the opportunity to do so as well.