Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Hard for Me to Deviate

As I'm busy planning for next year and ordering books, I'm really running into the fact that I have a hard time deviating in any way from my chosen curriculum (Ambleside Online). I think that really, this is mostly because of my personality. (I am ISFJ, but my "F" is very near the middle and I think my "T" side really comes out when it comes to this.). Some people might call me inflexible. I prefer to call myself steady. I am not the homeschool mom that switches curriculum in the middle of the year. I do my research, choose what looks best, commit to it, and make it work. Indeed, when I chose AO, I had fallen in love and fully expected to use it mostly as written for all of my homeschooling years. Maybe that part was a bit idealistic.

Why do I stick to AO with such tenacity?

Love. Loyalty. Gratitude. Respect. Trust.
I trust AO, because it has been worked out by moms who have learned and studied and lived Charlotte Mason's philosophy. I am grateful for the booklists they have provided out of that experience and knowledge. With four young children and just a beginning knowledge of CM, it would have been very, very hard for me to put together the books needed for the great feast I want to offer my children without a lot of trial and error.

So I am thankful, and loyal. And I feel guilty for being tempted to tweak. It feels like cheating on AO. I do not trust myself enough yet to be confident in my tweaking. And yes, in my heart I know I am being ridiculous. So laugh at me. :) This is my journey. I have to go through some trial and error anyway, it seems.

Here's where I want to change right now.

- I want to substitute another Shakespeare book instead of Lamb for the sake of JJ(5) who is starting Year 1. While we enjoyed it, it was very challenging in Year 1, and I did not like the simpler Nesbit option (Not detailed enough to be interesting, I thought). So I'm looking at getting some Bruce Coville books, and possibly Geraldine McCaughrean. I haven't seen her Shakespeare, but we enjoyed her Canterbury Tales, so I'm thinking it might be a good option for us. I feel fairly comfortable tweaking in this case. I understand that my purpose is to introduce my children to the stories of Shakespeare's plays so that they will be familiar when we get to study the actual plays.

- I'd like to skip the Burgess Bird Book with JJ and study insects instead. He just loves bugs. This is much harder for me, even though we did not really like the Bird Book (We love the Animal Book in Year 2, though!). What if the books I choose for insects are not as good? What if studying birds at this stage is crucial and we miss out on something because of it? When I type it out, it seems irrational, but it's how I really feel. I'm afraid to let go of AO's hand. I'm planning to choose some of the books on the booklists at A Modern Charlotte Mason. But that's not a hand I know and trust yet, even though what I've seen of it looks lovely. I suppose that if I mess up this time, I still have two more boys to practice on. Are you getting the idea that I'm a bit of a perfectionist? What? You're amused at my agonizing over a choice that seems so insignificant? That's okay. Me too...

- I've been convinced by A Delectable Education podcasts that I should be beginning with Canadian history in Year 1. Should... but it's hard to leave behind some of the books that we loved in Year 1. So hard, I'm not sure I'll manage it. I might start with a half tweak in this area.
You should know that I did AO as written, American biographies and all, with my oldest child. Of course, I need to substitute Canadian biographies for those American ones when I begin with my second child, and I will. (Now to find the perfect ones...) But I’m not sure if I’ll be able to leave behind the British history AO includes and put in more Canadian history. How could I leave out stories like King Alfred and the Cakes? I’d have to find something wonderful. On the other hand, JJ has been extremely interested in the Canadian history I’m reading with SA(7) right now, so perhaps I should consider doing that class together…

- The same podcasts have been proposing a different way of organizing the CM homeschool around history so that the whole family studies the same time period at once, each student using books at their own level. (I mean it is different from AO. It is actually based quite consciously on how Charlotte Mason organized her schools in Forms.) This idea is very attractive to me, though I do not necessarily consider it essential in order to faithfully provide your child with a Charlotte Mason education. There is interplay between ideas in different time periods, and connections could still be made between children no matter whether they are studying the same period or different periods in history. But it would be pleasant, and give a sense of unity within our homeschool. I would continue to follow AO for my oldest child, and then consider tweaking for subsequent children so that, beginning with Year 2, all my children would be studying the same time period as him. This would mean finding appropriate books at their level all the way through. I’m really not sure I’m brave enough for tweaking that extensive. I still have another year to think about it before my second child begins Year 2. Maybe the booklists at A Modern Charlotte Mason will end up being a help in this area too, as it is also organized by Form.

What about you? Is there anyone else out there that feels uncomfortable changing anything in your chosen curriculum? Tell me I’m not the only one. Or laugh. I don't mind.