Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Curriculum Choices

Warning: Long and possibly boring post. I don't promise that any of this follows a coherent thought.

I've been drowning in reading this past week.

No exciting novels or even fun magazines for me though.

No, I'm knee-deep in homeschooling catalogs, websites, and online bulletin boards. I'm trying to make the decision on what we're going to do this coming year (which we'll be starting at the end of July).

I posted earlier, comparing TOG and Sonlight, trying to decide which might work better for me.

I still haven't made a decision, but I'm trying to make one soon so that I can move ahead to prepare.

When it comes down to it, I have to realize that no matter what I choose, I'm not going to be able to leave it alone. That's just me. I wish that I could just be satisfied and feel like whatever curriculum I choose is perfect the way it is, but I don't know that I will ever feel that! Maybe I just need to get over it.

I have been looking at Tapestry of Grace (which we're already using), Sonlight, Story of the World (using this also), Mystery of History, and Winter Promise.

The thing is that nothing seems to fit perfectly.

We are finishing up TOG 1 this year, so if I use any of Sonlight's cores next year, we will be overlapping in the history studies. I don't want to have the kids study Ancient times again. They are ready and excited about moving on to Medieval Times.

Plus, I used the "Sonia" tool on Sonlight and according to that, because of my children's ages and differing reading abilities, I wouldn't be able to lump them into the same study groups - any of them. I can't do 3 separate cores and preschool with Nick and keep a baby happy. That is not going to happen.

The thing that draws me to Sonlight most (besides their great choice of books) is that it eliminates the work for me. The lesson plans are neatly printed out and all I have to do is execute. However, I really want to keep the kids on the same page when it comes to our history studies and I like to have history as the core to what we're studying rather than the literature. I just do.

I should add that I already own TOG Yr 2 (the older version), Mystery of History 2, and Story of the World 2 (Book, CDs, and Activity Book). So, purchasing a whole new curriculum seems a bit ridiculous and frankly quite wasteful. All 3 of these curriculum are wonderful.

My main complaints with continuing with TOG next year are:

1. The schedule. It lists all of the choices for the week, which I love, but I hate that it's not in the neat, easy-to-use right out of the box format that Sonlight is. I know that it tells you to have your children schedule everything out each week, but that doesn't work for me. I want the year's worth of assingments in front of me before we start.

2. Year 2. I just feel like way too much is crammed into this year. My kids want to spend some time on the Middle Ages - castles, knights, the Renaissance. The Vikings don't even have their own week! To move from the Fall of Rome all the way through the American Revolution is a bit much to cover in a year.

3. The Writing Program. This has crippled me this year. I don't feel like there is enough guidance on assignments. Maybe it's just me.

If you've read this far, then maybe you're trying to make the same decision I am. I've seen a lot of people on the boards asking questions about which is better for a large family - TOG or Sonlight. I know that they are both great programs.

What I'm considering right now is either just going back to Story of the World as the spine for this coming year and using TOG and MOH to supplement with the mapwork, vocab, projects, and upper-level reading assignments for Ellie or spread out the first 19 weeks of TOG 2 over the whole year.

Either way, I would just have to put spend the time to put my weeks into the Sonlight scheduling format to be prepared for next year. And I would have to come up with something for writing assignments. That sounds like it could be a lot of work I'm making for myself though. I wonder if it would be worth it.

Oh, I'm making myself tired just thinking about this. Hope I didn't put any of you to sleep!
I'm off to bed. I promise to let you know what I decide!!


Luke said...

Jennifer, Sonia tries to be helpful, but she isn't perfect [smile].

Please talk to a Sonlight Curriculum Advisor before you make your choice. They are here to help you figure out what will work for your family, and you can ask them questions and talk over your thoughts in a way that Sonia can't.

Hope that helps you as you continue to search for the best fit for you and your family. May you find it soon!


heidi said...

I use MOH and it is multilevel. Not hard to keep up with...this one is a no-brainer for me. I love it.

I also have been looking at Sonlight & Veritas Press & considering my eclectic choices up to date. I tend to lean toward Classical more than CM these days. But I've been truly appreciating your .02 on your ideas. It points out things to me I might have not thought of. Thank you.

I left you an award.

Jennifer said...

I sympathize with your decision. I struggle with these same decisions each year. Up to now, we have only covered history in unit studies, but I am determined to have an actual curriculum next year. Mystery of History has come highly recommended to me, so I think that is what we will go with.
Thanks for sharing your struggle ... I'll look forward to seeing what you choose.

Daisigirl said...

I think there is a way with Sonlight to buy one core and then supplement for older kids or buy the older child's core and do some extra with the littler ones. I agree with Luke about talking with an adviser. I have spoken with one before and it was a great help. I have used Sonlight in the past and really liked it. You could get core 2 and then add things for your oldest. Hope you come to a peaceful decision! I know how tough it is to decide! :)

abba12 said...

This might be totally out of place, but why not have an experimental year. You know you want to cover medieval times right? Go to the library, find some books. Don't just look at the adult and fact books, the horrible histories series can be fun, there are some great history art and craft books, and then there is the internet. It is more work to begin with in planning, but you can base them all off the same work, and then when it comes to project simply grade with differant levels. Lexie does a paragraph 'report' about something with mommy typing/writing what she says. 2nd grader does a paragraph long report on her own, 4th grader attempts something longer. And have some fun, do some medieval based crafts, womenscraft can be great for this era, with each child given an age appropriate assignment. Period fiction can be great fun to read as stories.

I know you've probably heard all about this sort of stuff from homeschoolers before but I'm just putting my two-cents worth in. If you're not happy with the curriculums, and you want to tweak things, why not have a go with some ideas of your own.