Monday, February 20, 2017

Giving Up Distractions: Homeschooling Resources

Today we are continuing the series on giving up distractions for Lent. In the last post I discussed the distraction of researching homeschooling methods and advice and recommended paring down your membership in Facebook homeschooling groups and the general online searching of blogs and the like. I emphasized choosing a method and sticking to it, pulling focus and buckling down. Proceeding with confidence.

The reason that I want to touch some more upon this topic is that a few days ago I received Seton Home Study's catalogue in the mail. I am on their mailing list because we use some of their books. The catalogue was glossy, colorful, and oh-so-enticing! I started to fantasize a little. How easy it would be to switch entirely to Seton, maybe even get the lesson plans. Wouldn't this be so much simpler than creating my own Charlotte Mason curriculum and schedule? My friends, the grass always does look greener on the other side.

Then I started thinking about Catholic Heritage Curricula, and how their program is a more "gentle" approach and can be used in the CM style. At least that's what they say, but I have my doubts about the reality of using an open-and-go program in its entirety while authentically adhering to the CM philosophy. I went online to find discussions comparing Seton with CHC and which program people like better. Was this helpful? Of course not. Everyone has an opinion, a preference, or really no idea what they want to do. But maybe I should pick up a spelling program, the devil on my shoulder whispered. I looked at the spelling book samples at the CHC website, as I have done a number of times. Each time I decide that, no, this is not going to be helpful. We just need to keep following CM's method for language arts consistently, as it does work! Sure, we can use a few carefully selected books from Catholic homeschooling publishers within our CM curriculum, but we can't have our cake and eat it too.

It is so tempting to add just one more thing, and sometimes there is indeed a gap that needs to be filled. However, could you fill it with a library book? Or maybe you already have a book in your home that you can use. For example, we've been using the Nature Anatomy book that Beezy got for Christmas. I found that it does not give enough breadth of information, so we need a second resource. I've used both Anna Comtock's Handbook of Nature Study and A Story Book of Science (Fabre), which we own. Another great book that I forgot we had until today is a Reader's Digest publication, ABC's of Nature: A Family Answer Book that I picked up at a library book sale. And of course you can always find great science stuff for kids online.

All of this is to say that we have to stop trying to reinvent the wheel. We need to give up this distraction of self-doubt when it comes to homeschooling, and this addiction to unnecessarily acquiring curriculum books and resources. Sometimes we just need a refresher course on how to approach a particular subject. Since I was feeling "wobbly" today about science, I went to the cabinet in which I keep my homeschooling resource books and pulled out Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss and reread the section on science (nature study).

These insecurities and impulses to assuage them will come up. Don't beat yourself up over it. Stop and reflect upon the root of the problem. Why are you doubting your chosen method? Why do you think you need another book (or to do yet another online search), either for yourself or for your child's curriculum? Perhaps you simply need to go back and revisit a topic or subject, remember why you chose to do things this way in the first place, and figure out what information you may need to proceed in the right direction.

For instance, in the Nature Study example I gave, I have just been feeling like I want it to be more vital and living. Soon the weather will allow for more nature walks, and there will be all kinds of new growth to observe. Since The Story Book of Science's selections lead into each other, it is difficult to choose a particular topic at random. Therefore, I'm going to proceed in it from where we last left off and use Nature Anatomy as a supplement, which contains lovely illustrations and succinct bits of information.  I want to have more drawing incorporated into Beezy's nature notebook, and Nature Anatomy has selections for use in this area as well. So this is how I want to pare down our nature studies, though of course I can use one of the other books as a need arises. I want to relax and allow for schole, the classical concept of learning as leisure.

And as for that lovely Seton catalogue? Before it could drive me crazy, I tossed it into the recycling!

Remember, whatever our grand plans, we can only carry them out one day at a time. Just do today and let tomorrow worry about itself.  From Matthew 6:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

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