True to form, my pre-homeschooling freakout faded... God gave me the grace necessary to do what I've been called to do... and another homeschooling year has begun!
I'm still shocked that I'm teaching SEVEN out of my eight children, and running the span from 9th grade down to kindergarten... but it is going well so far, praise God, and hopefully will continue to be a fun year for us!
I know I've mentioned Mother of Divine Grace so many times now, but this has truly been a sanity-saver for me. We do not enroll our children in the actual school, but we use their syllabi and thank God! What a relief from the stress I was carrying! I would have loved to create something special and new for each of my children, but that is just not realistic. I'm one woman teaching seven children (while watching a very active eighth!), and I needed to know that the basics were being taught. There are so many good options out there, but I will plug Mother of Divine Grace one more time -- if classical education appeals to you, this is a great way to go!
Something new that we are trying this year is Classically Catholic Memory. I was intrigued by this when I first saw it in the Ignatius Press catalog, and wondered if it would be worth the money. I "splurged" and bought the Teacher's Manual (so I could see it), and I was impressed enough to start my kids on it this year.
Mother of Divine Grace, being a classical education curriculum, already has plenty for memorization. I did not have any problems with it; however, I wanted to see if having my younger children memorize a timeline... and science facts... and skip counting (a bit ahead of schedule) would help them out as they got older. Obviously, I can't answer that question yet, but I was thrilled to hear my TWO-YEAR OLD chanting:
Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species... Amen!
He got the "amen" part wrong, but here was a perfect example of little kids doing what they do best -- memorizing everything they hear! Whether it's the words to the "Wheels on the Bus" or their favorite nursery rhyme, children are GOING to memorize... so why not give them something worthwhile to memorize? My head, unfortunately, is filled with such gems as:
"Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us, all we ask is that you let us have it your way..." (a Burger King commercial from the 1970s)
While it's funny, I'd rather fill my children's heads with things a bit more worthwhile.
A second book that we are trying for the first time this year is Heroes of Grace. Unfortunately, the website doesn't do the book justice. I met the woman who wrote this at the National Catholic Homeschooling Conference this year in VA, and I was very impressed with what she had done. Starting with September and going through May, this book covers one virtue a month and one saint highlighted each week (written for a primary level on one page, and upper grades on the next). If you are like me, you find yourself on the weekend fumbling through the calendar for the upcoming week and wondering how on earth you are going to find information and get it all together to highlight some saint.
You know learning about the saints is important... and you want to instill a love of the saints in your children... but there are only so many hours in the day, and you find this falling by the wayside.
With this book, I will have some of my "thinking done for me," as they say, and I'll be able to whip this out and read it to them on the appropriate feast day.
Perhaps you're beginning to sense the theme here... I want to be spontaneous and creative, since that is what appeals to me more than anything... but the logistics of it are just beyond my nature. If I had one child, sure, I would be whipping up unit studies, spending time in a gazillion museums, and taking field trips constantly. We'd be writing plays, doing crafts, and making this a magical time.
I can't do that, however, and I have to accept that, and do what I can to make this as fun and magical while still (a) maintaining my sanity and (b) ensuring that all our bases are covered.
So for us, that means Mother of Divine Grace, Classically Catholic Memory, and Heroes of Grace!