In my first year I of homeschooling, I did not have the advantage of scouring the internet or joining a forum. I had never been to a vendor hall or talked to a representative of any curricula, so I took the path of least resistance. I ordered some self-paced workbooks from one of the few catalogs that I had ordered by phone.
After a few days of workbooks, my oldest, Audrey balked. Their was no scope for the imagination in workbooks. No books. No creative writing. She, like her momma, craved words. Lots of words. Words to read. Words to write. The workbooks only provided snippets of literature- a portion of a chapter. This was torture for a literature hungry soul.
I wasn’t sure what to do. My mind had not been renewed in the area of education and I thought the powers that be (whoever THEY are) would want me to push through and suffer like any good educator.
I did make some allowances and we visited our tiny library frequently. Audrey loaded up on biographies and befriended the librarians. Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable. It went beyond the bounds of the schoolroom set-up. She read everywhere all the time. She wrote for hours. Unfortunately, I felt compelled to make her work through the workbooks.
A couple years into my homeschooling career, I met Kelley and Ettica, some fellow homeschoolers. We decided to start a homeschool co-op. We had four families! What joy! I had women to talk to, compare notes with and resources for books. I read, read, read about education and my philosophy began to change. I used to think education was about filling in rubrics, meeting objectives and jumping through rote memorization hoops. Now, I think differently. I read these titles:
I more than read, I devoured them, hungry for this old, new philosophy. Here’s a few quotes that changed my thinking:”We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love. We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies….Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities.” -Karen Andreaola
I had to set aside my secular teaching degree, my rubrics, workbook, rote memorization hoops (not that they don’t have a place) and I realized- Audrey was educating herself in her free time through books. She was forming relationships with people from long ago and joining the great conversation that has been going on since the invention of the written word.
“What is the best curriculum for a well-brought up person? Whatever the specifics of the curriculum used in your home, be sure that your children each day have:
- Something or someone to love
- Something to do
- Something to think about” – Karen Andreola
I began a new quest for a curriculum choice that matched my new way of thinking. Shortly after presenting a workshop entitled “YOU can do it” at our growing homeschool co-op, I was visiting friend Kelley. I was checking out her bookshelves (like all homeschoolers do) and asked her what curriculum she used. Sonlight. She pulled an instructors guide off the shelve and I looked at the multitude of books and said, “I can’t do this!” To which she said, “Yes, YOU can!”
That was many, many years ago. I have been using Sonlight plus some supplements over the years and the literature rich curriculum just fits my family. It may not fit yours. Don’t feel pressure to order something that doesn’t. Sonlight provides 27 Reasons NOT to buy Sonlight. If you are thinking about purchasing it, read this first!
I love Sonlight because it not only has the reading my family needed, it can be used for multiple children at once. Sonlight traveled to Poland with us for five weeks. I read aloud in the common room in the orphanage. I have so many great memories of reading together and the kids have so many great relationships with books.
Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your family. Find out your style! Read. Research. Are you science driven? History buff? A math genius? A writer? Find your style and your kid’s style and go from there.
If your kids love learning (this doesn’t mean they always love school) and desire to continue to educate themselves- you have arrived.
“Their is no education but self-education.” -Charlotte Mason