for the mama who wants self directed curriculum

For whatever reason, sometimes we find ourselves in a place where following a lesson plan is just not happening. We're barely hanging on to just being a loving mom and keeping the house running. You want to throw curriculum out of the window, but you want to know your kids are still learning and engaging in structured activities. We look for ideas on a self-directed curriculum, and we find Abeka or Bob Jones DVD school or ACE paces. Is there anything else that relieves mom of homeschooling stress, and puts more of the responsibility on the child? We all have ideals, but what about those seasons when ideals must be shelved and you must face your reality? I have to surrender my 'fantasy homeschool' for the unique situation I'm in and the challenges I face.

I wholeheartedly believe my kids are better off home with me even on the worst days than if I sent them to school.  My oldest has short term experience with going to school, and he tells me he would never forgive me if I sent him back. But I've also told them that unschooling is no longer working for us at this time, so something needs to change. I had a meeting with the two oldest boys, and they agreed that they will do what I need them to do, but they don't want workbooks, and I don't want them doing school (besides math) on the computer.

I've wanted to set up workboxes because I love the idea in theory. I love that it works with any educational method, and it encourages more independent learning. But in practice, I don't have the space for four kids to have workstations and all of those boxes and shelves and bins. If I had a bigger house, I'd be all over it, because I know it would appeal to my kids, who just want to know what is expected of them so they can get it over with.

So, here's what I've done on and off over the last few years - a combination of audio books and "artistic narration". That's a fancy way of saying they draw something or create some sort of project related to an audio book they are listening to. You can find audio books on just about anything, and as long as I provide a variety of them, they are learning  and retaining much more than they would versus a workbook/textbook. You don't have to follow someone's booklist; you can match them to your children's current interests and developmental needs.

Libraries are full of audiobooks. Librivox has lots of recordings of public domain books, though the intro at the beginning of each chapter and the wildly varying quality of the narrator make it my last resort.  MyAudioSchool and Books Should Be Free have nicely curated collections of books for streaming or downloading.

I prefer the aesthetic of waldorf drawing and painting in main lesson books, so I'm teaching them how to do that. (I have links to learn more about waldorf stuff up there where it says Homeschool Resources.) A couple of my kids aren't very crafty and hate cutting and pasting, but some of your kids might like downloadable notebooking sheets, lapbooks, display boards, or simply using blank paper.

Anyway, it's easy on me, because once I come up with a general vision for subjects over the year, I just gather the cds, links, or downloads, and spread out some art supplies. It provides just enough structure and planning so we have order and harmony in the home.


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