The Wows and Woes of Curriculum
By Amy Simonson
Spring. It’s the season of re-birth. The flowers are in bloom, the grass is growing green, and the sky is a magical blue. There is brightness on the faces of all who breathe in that fresh, new air. There is an ease that takes over so many just knowing that summer is right around the corner. But there is just one problem.
I. am. MISERABLE!
This season of fresh beginnings means season of chaos to me. There is a sudden race to finish my curriculum. There are evaluations and testing to be completed. There are co-op classes that are wrapping up and require end-of-year project. There are competitions, spring sports, practices and games. Yes, the hamster wheel turns wickedly and all I can think is, “I hate spring!”
Yet there is something– something that always pulls me out of my springtime funk. Something that is so uplifting, words can’t describe, and I always find it in my mailbox.
During the spring months, usually following my annual motherly temper tantrum, I walk out to the mailbox and begin to find a blissful, plethora of catalogues; curriculum catalogues. Now, before having kids, my happy place could be found in furniture and clothing catalogues, but not now–now I find amazing indescribable joy within the pages of a curriculum catalogue.
There are choices of every kind! Core packages, single subject workbooks, literature, math, and Bible study choices all sent to wet my appetite.
I haven’t even finished out my year! I’m BARELY hanging on! I start to think, “Will we even complete what we are doing now before summer time?” Never mind that, my sweet little blessings might be driving me nuts! How in the world can I be excited about curriculum choices for next year!?
That, I cannot answer. It is a mystery, even to me.
I can tell you, that seeing those catalogues lifts me up in a way that reminds me of the Israelites when they awoke to that first morning when manna covered the ground or how I imagine the disciples felt when they saw that the fish fed five thousand. The catalogs are a sign of hope and new beginnings!
The question I am most always asked is, “How do you not let all of those choices overwhelm you?” Somehow, I have managed to tackle that issue head on; yet, I see so many others struggle with it throughout their homeschool journey.
I have learned, through serious, consistent prayer, God truly leads me to the right curriculum. Of course, you absolutely have to understand your child and know their learning habits, but once you have nailed that down you still have hundreds if not thousands of curriculum choices to wade through. Sometimes it is so hard for me to believe that God has the time to think about what type of reading curriculum my son needs or what type of math program best suits my daughter, but there is no doubt about it, He does. He cares and He guides.
Recently after a joyous journey through one of my catalogues I was convinced I had found the most perfect reading curriculum for my son. I loved everything about it! The catalogue led me to online research, the online research led me to a convention where I could leaf through it, touch it and ask about it (another joyful and utterly satisfying experience). I went home and had my mind made up. I loaded the choice into my online shopping cart and was seconds away from clicking “purchase”. Something, however, restrained me. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed. How could I feel like this about a silly curriculum choice, one I knew like the back of my hand? I decided to hold off. I began to realize was that God was answering my prayers! The prayers that had become so repetitive in my mind that I almost forgot about them! A prayer like this one, “Dear God, please guide me in the homeschool experience. Don’t let me teach a thing without your consent. Lead me to the best option for your children that you have given to me.”
Almost a week later someone handed me a curriculum that almost knocked me off my feet. It was everything I needed for my son. It was a quarter of the price but it was so geared toward his weakness that I could tell it was going to be a perfect fit. God has done this for me time and time again with regard to so many other subjects and extracurricular activities. He takes over, when I allow it, and He leads me down a road of such reward. He allows me to be so excited and taken back by the joys of curriculum shopping and then He focuses and guides me. The true challenge is listening and following.
Embrace the beginnings, enjoy the journey but most importantly don’t do it alone.
1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Amy Simonson, a former CNN journalist, is the mother of a twelve-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son. She has been a homeschool mom for six years.