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.
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.
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.
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 we’ve 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!