I've always been intrigued with personality tests, career tests, learning styles, etc. I love seeing the results and learning more about myself. My kids are no different. Although my kids are all girls, they have similarities of course, but their differences make them so unique. Over the year, I've learned a lot about myself as a person, mother and homeschooler. I've written before about this year's experience and how we are making it work. But, what about the future?
A few years ago I stumbled across Cathy Duffy's book, Top 100 Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I was in the process of looking into a preschool/kindergarten program for Abby and wasn't sure what direction to go in. At the time, I never considered my vision for our homeschool, I was more concerned with her learning style and choosing what works best. At the time, I heeded the advice of the book and went in a different path with my initial curriculum choice, although I still don't believe the alternative was the best path.
Anyhow, with our struggles with Abeka this year and my failed attempts at Tot School with Summer, I knew the upcoming fall school year needed to be a complete overhaul and I needed to fully invest serious time into planning and researching curriculum that would work for us.
I decided to refer back to Cathy Duffy who recently published a revision of her original book with Top 102 Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I wanted to really take advantage of the resource and begin to fully understand my learning style, my homeschool vision and also Abby's learning style. Summer is still too young to peg exactly, although I think her learning style is very similar to mine and Jeremy's. Back to Abby, she is definitely a Wiggly Willy with a lot of Sociable Sue mixed in. If you aren't familiar with the book, Wiggly Willy's are hands on, multi-sensory learners. They prefer short lessons, freedom to move, lots of physical involvement, variety, games and aren't too keen on workbooks. Sociable Sue's prefer real books, social interaction, discussions, enthusiasm, public presentations, being personally recognized and valued, among others. I laugh when I read about Wiggly Willy's and Sociable Sue's because it's Abby in a nutshell. Constant movement, always on the go, a social butterfly that loves the spotlight.
So, what is my vision for our homeschool? In the earlier years, I never thought about it. Obviously, I want a fun, exciting environment full of opportunity but that looks different with each family and each season of life. With Abby, it was easy and fun to put together themes, games, learning toys, etc. I had plenty of time and only one child. Our family has grown quite a bit in the last two years and school time has become different in so many ways, along with my own responsibilities as a stay at home mom/wife. There's the added pressure of her now in the elementary grades versus preschool/kindergarten. At the same time, I want to provide the same early learning to Summer and Kaitlyn that Abby was given. It wasn't until this year that I totally began to understand what I want and what I don't want.
For me, I like variety. I like mixing things up and being spontaneous. I don't like feeling tied down to a certain lesson plan/curriculum. I want to be able to branch off and go in a different direction if we want to. I want to enjoy learning along with my girls without feeling stressed out and rushed. I want to include the younger two and offer them unique opportunities on their own level without everyone off on their own doing something different. I don't want dry, boring, busywork and the like. I want to see each of my girls learning academically, but also building their character through personal development. I want to include nature studies and to introduce them to fine arts, history and hands on science. I want to grow more in my faith with Bible studies and verse memorization while being a good witness to them.
After looking at learning styles, I flipped back to take Duffy's quiz on education approach. I always just assumed I was eclectic, but I was surprised to find out otherwise. I ended up scoring very high in both Unit Studies (94%) and Charlotte Mason (90%). While I've heard of these styles, I never really looked into either. Unit Studies are like themes--so if we are learning about the ocean every subject revolves around the ocean. Ok--yes because that's what I used to do with Abby in preschool. But, Charlotte Mason? I was familiar with the label, but not so much with the her style and method. We made several trips to the library gathering all the books I could regarding Charlotte Mason. She emphasizes living books, narrations, habit training, and so much more. All the things I wanted and had seen in my "vision" of homeschooling, but I wasn't exactly sure how I would implement. I kept on researching and looking for more resources to help clarify and help me better understand. A few weeks later, I discovered exactly what I wanted and needed--Simply Charlotte Mason. The website provides a free curriculum guide to help you get started and resources, free e-books and quality samples. I have continued to spend countless hours downloading information, looking at the curriculum picks that suit Abby, but also compliment my approach.
I see so much potential for the upcoming school year, it excites me. Fully understanding learning styles and my vision has shed light on what wasn't really working this year. I look forward to sharing more details soon!