PLANT, Inc. Blog
Encouraging Parent Led Education
By Edie Downs
I am not an early adopter. I did not ever envision myself homeschooling despite several friends having chosen that lifestyle. I belonged to the “I could never do that” club. Yet I longed for more time with my children, the opportunity to influence their character development, and additional control over our schedule. My older two girls were well ensconced in the neighborhood elementary school when the seed of homeschooling began to take root in my mind. We reluctantly made the leap when DD #1 was about to enter middle school.
Initially uncertain, I began to feel the Lord moving in my heart as I turned 180 degrees to embrace this adventure. Playing teacher was my favorite game as a child, and I now couldn’t wait to set up my “classroom”, thumb through curriculum, plan, and teach my little darlings. Reality struck quickly as I realized the difficulty in scheduling and executing work for four children aged 3-11.
Enter unit studies. We originally bought used Konos manuals from ebay. Coordinating with friends, we started our unit studies. The results were amazing - albeit a little heavy on the planning side - using “real books” at the different reading levels of the children, themed by character traits and covering reading/writing, literature, art, science and history.
Buried by the intensity of the planning involved and reeling from the sudden need to care for my husband after a serious motorcycle accident, I again began to seek an alternative. Some early adopter friends had already made the switch to Tapestry of Grace curriculum. The price of the books and the curriculum seemed daunting at first, and my laggard mentality held me back. But when a clever friend on a different curriculum cycle suggested joint ownership of the books, using Tapestry became economically feasible. Reading assignments and projects are laid out in a careful and organized manner for the different ages, solving my planning problem, and we could continue to study the same things together at each girl’s individual level.
Lest you think these years passed peacefully and effortlessly across our homeschooling landscape, let me assure you, they did not. I was often overwhelmed, spending too much time in one area, not enough in another, dealing with one child’s issues while sometimes ignoring others, realizing weeks had gone by and no math had been done by anyone anywhere in my home, refereeing sibling disputes, and trying to get something like dinner on the table for my husband. You get the picture. Although I’ve joked about my resistance to change, it served me in the rough times. I was not likely to change course when one – or all – children became unhappy with homeschooling. I was not willing to quit because we missed half a year of math, or my child couldn’t put together a paragraph. Month by month and year by year, I made very tiny adjustments and along the way I found some helpful tips that I would like to pass along.