My kids are weird. Two years ago, before homeschooling had ever entered our minds as an option, Brilliant B and Legohead L would ask to “learn some more stuff” over the summer. So, I would ask them what they wanted to learn about that summer and create little unit studies for them. They liked it so much that they asked for it again last summer because “mommy is such a fun teacher”. Brilliant B had been having all kinds of emotional problems related to frustrations in the classroom, and I considered this to be a test of what homeschool might be like. It was on our radar as a possibility at this point. Since unit studies had been working so well in the summers, that was the first idea of a homeschooling method I considered.
I spent last summer reading about unschooling (no way), textbooks (part of what we ultimately wanted to escape), virtual school (I wanted more control), Charlotte Mason (close, but lacking focus moving forward into middle school), and publishers with whole curriculum set out (either too much like textbooks or too religious in a way that did not match up with our Catholic beliefs). When I finally found The Well Trained Mind, everything fell into place perfectly.
The Well Trained Mind spoke to me because it touches on (1) everything that I knew was great about my own education and (2) everything I realized at some point my education had been lacking. I was absolutely convinced that classical curriculum was the way to go, and I liked the way that this book set out a structure in which to apply the classical methods in your homeschool. Of course, when I read the book we still had not actually decided to homeschool. We were in the “maybe” stages.
As it turned out, our decision to homeschool came a couple of months later with really no warning and only about two weeks to plan. I pulled out my copy of The Well Trained Mind and got to work ordering books and making a rough sketch of a curriculum. I followed my gut with what I knew was right for me as a teacher and B as the student. While I sometimes would second guess myself about how well we were doing with actual homeschooling, I never once second guessed the curriculum choice.
We don’t follow The Well Trained Mind schedule exactly, but it establishes our educational foundation. I give myself the freedom to stick in interesting educational opportunities as they present themselves. Trust your gut when you choose a style and curriculum, and don’t force something that doesn’t work with you or your kids. The great thing about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. The educational experience can be customized to meet the needs of each student, and it is a process of learning and growth for everyone involved. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just enjoy!