Repeat after me: “Less is more; less is more; less is more…”
I love consulting with moms about their curriculum choices. Not only do I get to hear about their kids (who are all amazing, by the way), but I get to help them scale back their expectations and their purchases. The most important thing you can do for your upcoming school year is to do “one thing at a time.”
You want to be sure that you can spin all those plates you’re busy balancing on the top of the tall skinny poles. If you keep purchasing curricula without considering whether or not you have the time in the day to do it all, you will find yourself frustrated and feeling guilty by October!
The best curriculum is the one you use.
It’s okay to feather in your studies as you go. If it takes a bit of time to get used to the new math program, so be it. Let that take your energy and focus for a week or two or a month. Language arts won’t die. It will simply go dormant, taking a little nap before you return to it.
If you want to launch a new project or tackle a new process, give it your full attention. You can skip everything else that day. Sit down with the guide and read it (don’t skim it). If the kids have to watch a video or play with Legos while you do, they won’t “fall behind the curve” in their educations. Rather, you will be preparing to be the best learning coach they can have. You’ll feel competent and capable because you will know what you’re doing.
Read directions, ensure that you have the right supplies, spend time familiarizing yourself and your kids with the methods or practices necessary for the learning experience. Support the activity as your kids get used to it. Follow through with the lesson or new habit for a bit without rushing, cramming, or sandwiching the work between two other demanding tasks.
If you’ve “stocked up” on curricula because of discounts or bundles or what have you, you aren’t required to use all of it at once, or to learn how to use all of it by __________ (fill in the blank official start date). You get to feather in the materials and new books as you become comfortable with them one at a time. It’s fine to not get started on that Word Origins work book, day one of the new year. In fact, might it not be a pleasure to a student to have something brand new to add to the daily tasks about the time the routine becomes a little old hat? Pulling out a brand new offering can energize your child again. Keep something new hidden at all times. Surprise is your ally in home education.
Lastly, you don’t have to do every page, every problem, or every chapter. You don’t. Your children don’t have to complete all their work in one subject before they are “allowed” to do the next one. There is no set order to how you cover the subjects.
- You are at home. (Post that somewhere.) Make the experience homey.
- Pay attention to flagging energy, inertia, overwhelm, and boredom.
- Give quality efforts, in short bursts of time, to one subject area at a time.
- Know the material and method before you begin.
- Feel free to delay the introduction of new materials until you’ve found your groove with the first set.
- Take it one thing at a time.
Less is more.
Check out this section on the blog for more about the One Thing Principle.