January: A Fresh Start (I Hope)

Well, we got through December alright, beating our previous record of nine school days completed during the holiday season by one whole day! Then we took the last two weeks off entirely—the children to play and read and just have fun, and I to read a little, plan the next few months, and get my household schedule tweaked and updated for the coming year. Don’t laugh at me for saying this (you seasoned homeschoolers probably already know it is in vain), but I think I’ve finally worked out a way to get school done and have a reasonably clean home at the same time. Now if someone could just get my three year-old potty trained…

I’ve also finally gotten a chance to read Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, which has kind of thrown me for a loop, as far as my homeschooling is concerned.  I don’t have the updated version, so I have no idea what’s different between the new book and the original. I hope they updated their references to “tapes” in favor of media people are actually likely to have these days! Also unknown to me is whether they took out the suggestion that we not do non-school things like shopping with our children during regular school hours. Not that I go around trying to stick a thumb in the eye of everyone who disagrees with homeschooling, but if I feel like shopping on Tuesday morning, I’m going to shop on Tuesday morning! That’s just a nitpicky disagreement, though. Otherwise, I love this book.

After reading it, I feel much more comfortable following my own instincts about child-rearing (especially discipleship) and I’m letting go of some rather schooly notions I’d had about education. My lack of confidence has been holding my children back, I’m certain. And here you thought I knew what I was doing! Well, I don’t. Never claimed to.

An old (or maybe not-so-old) saying has it that you shouldn’t change horses in midstream, but as far as curriculum goes, that is precisely what we’re about to do. I suspect that whoever first spouted that wisdom had never been stuck midstream on a bad horse. Actually, our horse seems to be behaving more like a mule, so maybe we’re changing mules in mid-stream. I dunno. The only thing I’ve ever ridden astraddle is a bicycle. I don’t know anything about horses. (That’s a two-fer, ain’t it? I don’t know anything about homeschooling or horses.)

I’m tossing The Well-Trained Mind stuff to the side. The Well-Trained Mind is a pretty good book about homeschooling, but the actual curriculum that follows the grown-up book is sorely lacking, in my opinion. The history activity book has been kind of disappointing. The text book that accompanies it is just surface-skimming, and we can do just as well by just reading the book list from Tapestry of Grace. Instead, I’m pulling away from chronological history for a while and doing Galloping the Globe unit studies with the oldest boys. I think that will be more fun, and it just happens to fit with a few other things we’ve got going on. (Also, it was given to me for review. Be on the lookout for a giveaway on my blog soon!)

Have you ever gotten halfway through something you thought would be great, only to find it’s not working for you? Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this! Happy New Year, my friends!


  1. good for you for looking for and finding what works best for you and your individual learners! [wish i could help with the potty training, but winter-time is just a booger for such things:)]

  2. I have NEVER finished any formal curriculum except for Math with my kids. I see curriculum as purely resource material from which I draw as much or as little as suits our family at the time. It seems to have worked out…I’ll refrain from bragging on my brainiac kids but academically, they’re very, very solid.

    • I’ve started to see curriculum the same way. It’s just silly how detailed they all are. So one-size fits all. I really like the more open-ended, unscripted stuff like ToG right now.