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What We've Been Up To Lately: Community or Curriculum?

Community has always been an essential ingredient of our homeschool.

When the kids were younger I would definitely tell you community was more important than curriculum. By that I mean we were in an “extracurricular” co-op once a week for the benefit of community. Sure, the classes were engaging and beneficial, but they weren’t essential to our learning and were outside of our curriculum.

As my children reached middle school age, however, community and curriculum became intertwined. We began Classical Conversations and that was a good solution for both needs.

Until it wasn’t.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

For my oldest, we needed to follow her heart and desires. We took her out of a CC community and enrolled her in online classes and a few classes at a local classical school.

We had to seriously evaluate the curriculum and the community, too. In her case, we needed a change in BOTH.

She will be graduating in May and I now look back and thank GOD for leading us in the right direction!

She is finishing high school with a beautiful of mix of her interests and also the “required” curriculum.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

This week my husband and I have had some long, thoughtful discussions about the community we want for our son going forward.

We also received the latest Classical Conversations catalog and have been discussing whether the curriculum for next year fits our son’s needs.

As I stood talking with another mom this morning she articulated what I have been feeling: Which is more important to us moving forward? Community or Curriculum?

The Importance of Homeschool Community

Three years ago we started a new CC community. A prayerful group of moms (most of us with boys) came together to form a place where we could be together and educate our children together through high school.

I cannot accurately describe what a BLESSING this group has been. Our community is STRONG. The children are thoughtful and diligent, hard working and kind. The parents are friends and we are walking the road of Christian parenthood together.

We all remark how RARE this kind of community is and do not take it for granted.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

That first year of our group was small. We had a group of 6 moms that met to pray about our community. We prayed for tutors, facilities, and so much more.

Now that community has changed locations. We have dozens more families, and have expanded to Challenge A, B, and I. Our Challenge I class next year will have 11 children - most of them have been together since their elementary years.

When Community Trumps Curriculum

Many of you who have followed me know that I am a bit leery of all of the reading that is done in Challenge I and II. I don’t want to see my son lose his love of reading.

I believe there should be more formalized history in the high school years.

I don’t think the sciences are accelerated enough in the Challenge years.

Those are things I am willing to adjust and work with so that we can have the benefit of THIS COMMUNITY.

We will most likely add an online Spanish class next year. I will probably omit some of the reading. This summer we may work on Physical Science so that we can move ahead to Biology in Challenge I.

The bottom line is this: There will never be a perfect school situation. We need to work on a child by child basis to determine what is most important for them at a given point in time.

Additionally, I think it is important to never commit yourself so wholeheartedly to one method or program that you cannot make a change if that is what is best for your child. When the method becomes more important than the child you have a serious problem!

That’s what weve been up to this week (well that AND lots of basketball!) - making big decisions for next year and evaluating decisions from previous years.

Homeschooling these upper grades is so GOOD - there is no need to be afraid. Just jump in and GO - with prayer and careful research you can avail yourselves of all of the wonderful opportunities out there!

What have you been up this week?

Making any big decisions for next year? Let me know in the comments below!

You might also like:

Homeschool High School to College

How to Reach Your Teen Homeschooler’s Heart

Learn About C.S. Lewis: A Parent's Guide to Self Education

For parents, the gift of homeschooling is self-education.

Reclaiming my own education has been a tremendous blessing. I love discovering with my children - discovering authors, composers, artists - I could go on and on!

If you are like me, you weren’t exactly immersed in the life and thoughts of C.S. Lewis when you were young. I vaguely remember reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Beyond that, I thought Lewis was for intellectuals - certainly NOT me!

I was intimidated by all things C.S. Lewis for many years. I wish I would have started this sooner, but I have to believe NOW is the perfect time for me.

What a gift it is now to dive into his world now and discover for myself so many of his writings - to learn about one of the greatest Christian thinkers in history.

It all started with one of my favorite books last year…

Learn About C.S. Lewis - a Parent’s Guide to Self Education - includes book suggestions, and how to learn alongside your children

A Gentle Beginning to learn about C.S. Lewis

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to slide into a deep subject gently.

There was a lot of buzz about Becoming Mrs. Lewis - the story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis’ unlikely friendship and eventual marriage. I listened to the book and was drawn into their world.

A logical place to go after listening to this book was to read A Grief Observed - this was the book Lewis wrote after his wife died. The book is short, but is so full of wisdom. I read it through quickly the first time, and then really sat with it a second time - highlighting and making notes in the margins.

I love how books just “find” you sometimes, don’t you?

After A Grief Observed I kept hearing about A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War , which is about Tolkien, Lewis, and the influence their involvement in World War I had on their faith lives and ultimately the Christian world of the 20th century (and beyond). This book was an EXCELLENT listen for both my teenage son and me.

A Plan to Learn More about C.S. Lewis

After this enjoyable introduction into the life and thoughts of C.S. Lewis, I found myself wanting to know more.

I get easily bogged down by too much “intellectual” reading (just being honest).

I have to keep it short and interesting.

First, a comprehensive biography about C.S. Lewis.

Second, the box set of C.S. Lewis signature classics (these are SO approachable - and the covers are beautiful, too!).

Third, Surprised By Joy - the shape of C.S. Lewis’ early life.

(If you want to include your children in this endeavor, I HIGHLY recommend C.S. Lewis, Master Storyteller - one of the Christian Heroes Then and Now biographies. We listened to this on a long car trip last year and all learned so much! )

Don’t you love this quote from A Grief Observed - “The best is perhaps what we understand the least.”?

I’m not trying to “understand” all of C.S. Lewis’ writings - I’m simply trying to immerse myself in his world and let the Holy Spirit work in me.

If you’d like to join me in learning about C.S. Lewis, here are the books I’m using:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. LewisA Grief ObservedThe C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (8-Volume Box Set): An Anthology of 8 C. S. Lewis Titles: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, Miracles, The ... The Abolition of Man, and The Four LovesA Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)Jack: A Life of C. S. LewisThe Complete Chronicles of Narnia ( Boxed Set 7 Books )

 

Do you know much about C.S. Lewis?

Tell me in the comments below!