Spring has sprung and all is beautiful, new and right with the world- until I realize Summer is coming and I will need a bathing suit. Ugh! I have never been petite. Even when I was born I was bigger than most and I am okay with that. No matter how secure I am with my big bones in Fall, come Spring I lose all confidence when I am blinded by my winter-white skin in the dressing room mirror and find myself drowning in rejected suits on the floor.
As my body has inflated and deflated like an inner tube for the last decade I have had many opportunities to go back to the dreaded dressing room and I have learned a lot about what makes the perfect suit. Surprisingly enough, these same rules apply to finding the right homeschool curriculum. This spring as you are shopping for next year’s teaching materials (or this season’s suit) here are few things to keep in mind.
One Size Does NOT Fit All
I had a friend generously offer to lend me a suit when I found myself without on vacation. While I appreciated her kindness, she was a good 6” shorter and 80 lbs lighter than I. I looked sort of like a WWF wrestler (minus the muscles) in her tiny suit (yikes!) and went for shirt and shorts instead. Similarly I have had some excellent homeschool friends let me borrow curriculum that has worked well for their families. When I struggled to make this “tried and true” curriculum work for my family I thought there was something wrong with me. “I guess I am just not good at homeschooling.” The truth is, it was just not the right “fit” for me.
Know Your Body Type
Finding the right fit requires knowing a little bit about yourself. In swimsuits its body shape: flat chest, big chest, big bottom, no bottom, pear, sausage, etc. With curriculum it is educational philosophy. Are you strict, highly disciplined, relaxed, modern, classical, or hands on? There are names for all these philosophies in the home school world with support groups, materials, and help for each kind. Just like every body shape is different and beautiful in its own way, everyone is unique in their teaching approach and that is for the best. If you aren’t sure yet what your philosophy is try taking our quiz to get you headed in the right direction.
You’ll Have to Try on Several
So you’ve narrowed down your options to what types fit you best, but now you will have to start trying them on. I found a cute suit that I wore one year on an anniversary get away, but when I wore it later to the neighborhood pool with toddlers tugging at my straps I realized in a hurry this suit wasn’t for every pool. Different situations may call for different materials. Its good to have a variety at your disposal. Things that don’t work out right now for this kid may come in handy later for a different child, or may be something you can recommend to a friend that will be just what they need.
Don’t Be Afraid to Come Out of the Locker
Remember the song about the girl in the “Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” who was afraid to come out of the locker? Trying something new can make us insecure, nervous, even terrified. I know I have felt all of these ways about homeschooling. Being afraid to fail, or of what others think of our decisions is not a good excuse for not trying. Homeschool requires trial and error. The error part scares parents. “If I try to teach and it doesn’t work I am a homeschool failure, wasted precious funds, and ruined my children.” Not true. This is part of the growth process and inspires others to try too. I have yet to hear of someone who has been sorry for any time spent homeschooling.
Last Year’s Suit May Not Fit
Not realizing quite how much weight I hadn’t lost after baby number four I tried getting in the previous season’s perfect suit - only to find it looking like a sausage casing. Bummer. Life is ever changing and so will the needs of your family. Its okay to put the Classical curriculum on a shelf to try Unschooling when need arises. Don’t worry about there being “holes” in your child’s education if you don’t follow the same curriculum from Kinder to College. I promise no matter what you teach from, there will be something you missed. There is no way to teach everything there is to know. That is why it is great that you are teaching your child by example to be a life-long learner. They can fill in the holes later when they homeschool their kids. ;)
No BODY is Perfect
If you spend much time comparing your beach body to the girl in the magazine you will get discouraged. But magazines are rarely reality. I discovered this at our local Texas water park where anything goes and all shapes and sizes bare all. Magazines use photoshop. Homeschool bloggers put their best foot forward. If you were to come to my house you would see homeschool reality and it wouldn’t be pretty. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, your kids, your spouse, or especially your house! No matter what curriculum you use leave room for human error.
Modest is Hottest
As a teenager I learned what is attractive to the rest of the world may not be the best thing for us. At public pools you’ll see a lot of belly buttons and people following fads that are driven by monetary gain- not society’s best interest. Public schools unfortunately are often driven by the almighty dollar as well rather than what is actually best for students and teachers. Could it be that sitting at desks all day, high stress, frequent testing, government mandated curriculum, and decreased family influence yields as much lasting happiness as a string bikini? Seek the words of the prophets and personal revelation in determining what is best for your family in today’s world of fashion AND education.
Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
I don’t remember what suit I wore to California with my family ten years ago. But I do remember what an awesome time we had laughing on the beach. No matter what suit you pick it’s not actually what you are wearing that matters. It is the memories and relationships you are making that will last. The same with curriculum. In the end it isn't going to be which publisher you purchased textbooks from that your kids will remember. It will be the time spent with you, the memories you made together, and the things you learned as a family that will stay with them.
Behold- The Miracle Suit
Last year I discovered this magical swimming suit that fits my body type, disguises some areas, is modest, is fashionable, and doesn't fall off when I am swimming with children. Hooray for Eddie Bauer’s Miracle Suit! I have also found a curriculum (after ten years) that is perfect for my teaching style, my kids’ varied ages and learning styles, is academically strong and religiously sound. Hooray for Latter Day Learning’s Family School and Life of Fred Math! Of course these may not be the “Miracle Suit” for your family. Finding just the thing for us has taken a long time. I am glad for the other materials I used in the past. I threaten the kids we will go back to it if they give me attitude about the good curriculum. ;) Sometimes it takes knowing the bitter to appreciate the sweet.
Let’s Go Shopping!
Check out our Curriculum Corner for some ideas on where to start your curriculum hunt.