“Another workbook, Mom?” I could already see that baked look on his face. As I peered at my young student, a rather cumbersome pile of consumable workbooks cast a shadow on his work space. Since I wasn’t able to honestly answer his question, I said to myself, “Yikes! He’s right. We have too many workbooks going!” This September, like so many other Septembers, I ask myself, “What are we doing?” and, more importantly, “Why are we doing it?”
These same questions come up year after year as I try to filter all of this learning through a Charlotte Mason paradigm. My problem is that I’ve been influenced by too many great approaches to learning. Sure, the Classical and traditional approaches have their great ideas to add in too. Plus, when I get to a summer curriculum fair, I see all manor of great workbooks and materials. “I gotta get this!” I’ll say, and grab another spelling book (we already had 3 at home). Then, there are the occasional used book sales around here. I’ll pick up a great workbook and say, “Gee, I’ve been hearing about this for years and here it is for $2. I gotta get this!” And, home it comes to my home school in-basket.
Then, August comes around and we have to actually implement all these supposedly “great” workbooks and materials. Then, my son asks, “Another workbook, Mom?”
Short of throwing all the workbooks out, there is one approach I have been doing for several years now that actually really is awesome. And this is just plain reading. After morning prayers and breakfast, we all lay around and read. Reading is the first subject every day. I’ve got my Northanger Abbey, my 14 year old has his Around the World in 80 Days and my youngest has My Side of the Mountain. Even on late start mornings we still read for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Right in their midst, tea cup on the arm of the couch, I read too. It is glorious.
So, back to the questions, What are we doing? Why are we doing it? These are good questions for any school. What we are doing is learning magnificent things, but we can get bogged down when this home school mama over plans. Why do I over plan? Because I have a hard time saying No! What are we doing well? We are reading every day. Why are we reading? Because we enjoy it.
There! I said it! I feel like I’ve gotten something off my chest at the local chapter of Workbooks Anonymous! Its time I stepped out onto a limb and said NO to about half of these superfluous workbooks! That should give us more time for the subjects we love like reading, writing, art and science.
Chime in! Have you had to examine the materials you are using this year and make changes, small or drastic? Is there something you are doing that is really working? I would love to hear your stories.