When you teach in a public school setting, you teach what you're told to teach. You teach to the objectives in the curriculum, and maybe, if you're lucky, you'll have enough wiggle room and time to be really creative with how you teach those things.
In our state, the requirements for homeschoolers are very open-ended. There are really no requirements about what we teach, only about the records that we keep, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's hard, at first, to figure out what to teach; but once you get started, you'll wonder how you will ever stop.
That's what has happened to us.
As a certified teacher, I panicked at first when I didn't have a curriculum. Trying to figure out how to set thirteen years' worth of goals at once sounded impossibly hard ... until I remembered wisdom from the Old Testament: Do the next thing.
I sat down one night to figure out what our 'next thing' was, and it's evolved into this.
We want our children to be great readers and thinkers and problem solvers. We want them to know how to learn, how to look at problems critically, and how to work together. We think they should be kind, caring, and responsible adults who are able to lead and support their families.
Translation: They should be able to read well, answer questions, figure out stuff, know where to go to find more answers, handle basic math, hold down a job, etc.
There. That's not so hard.
So, since we like to get totally immersed in our education, we study things for several weeks at a time, usually, so that we can get at them from all angles. We want to read about them, build them, replicate them, play in them, eat them, grow them, and whatever else we might be able to do with our topic of study.
So for this upcoming year, after talking to the kids, examining the opportunities presented by our local library and homeschool group, we've chosen to study these things during this upcoming school year:
- Ice Cream
- Ancient Egypt
- Zoology - in particular dinosaurs, tigers, and elephants
- The first Thanksgiving in America
- Art - drawing and color
For a few of these units, we'll be using prepackaged materials to supplement what I create. Voice of the Martyrs has a great Egyptian lapbook, and so we'll incorporate that into our studies. We can't learn about ice cream without reading Ebenezer Bleezer's Ice Cream Store, and we'll learn how to make arrays with our sundae toppings. We're starting an art co-op and will be using See the Light's Art Class DVDs.
Mostly, we'll read lots of good books, examine art and cuisine and music and folklore of any given location, study maps, and write all about our findings. We love the Imagination Station books, the Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus chapter books, as well as lots of other random books we find all over.
So that's our plan for the upcoming school year. If we finish all that, I'm sure there will be new things just waiting to tackle. One kid currently wants to learn basket-weaving and the other wants to study Chinese ....
What will you be learning about next school year?