I would also add an additional disclaimer. I have tried to be a diligent homeschooler. I've tried to provide a rigorous education for my kids.
None of my kids were ready to handle all of the books listed in the VP curriculum as it moved into 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. (Forget using Omnibus with my oldest 7th grade son. BAD idea. Bad! And I tried. And stressed because he couldn't do it. NOR could I!!! I
had NOTHING to say about those books when my oldest was in 7th grade. Yes, I could read the TE, but I couldn't teach those books. Wake up call for me! Huge wake up call!) When my oldest was in grades 3-6, I used to read the VP catalog and stress over it. I had a lot of the books. I wanted to provide a rigorous experience so I tried to use the books to educate. I believe that kids need to be stretched in order to learn, but the stretch was too much. I wasted a ton of time trying to figure out how to use the materials to educate my kids. Looking back, I can clearly label it an unnecessary stress (for me).
The debate continues with the experts about rigorous education. I will leave it to them to decide what is best for the masses.
What worked for me? Age-appropriate curriculum for my kids in history and science grew my kids; rigor was needed for my self-education
. I grew the most when I pushed ME to struggle, struggle, struggle to understand things that made NO sense to me. Our homeschool grew the most when I
was drowning yet struggling to breathe - when I was trying to get MY nose above the water line in order to comprehend.
Those experiences pay rich, rich dividends in this house every single day. In every single subject!
Little ones need to struggle to understand the 3R's well. History, literature, and science are for practicing those skills. Long term it was best for our homeschool when I placed the demand for rigor in the content areas on MY shoulders. Among many other things on my plate this week, I just finished a run through Alice in Wonderland
again; I'll be working through some of it with my 7th grader. It should be an interesting discussion; he has the experience to enjoy the book on several levels. According to the curriculum that I am using (TOG), he is supposed to read Through the Looking Glass - TTLG
. I've decided not to teach the book; he's going to start The Fellowship of the Ring
instead. Apart from the chess game, I can't find anything in TTLG that I want to chat about with my 7th grade boy. I've challenged myself to work through Finnegan's Wake
; maybe then I'll have something to say about TTLG. Honestly? I'm afraid of Mr. Joyce. I don't want
to read any Joyce. I'm sure that I won't like it. ...but I might. So as soon as I have the time, I will. I'm sure that it will grow me. Can I read the book? maybe. But I'm not sure that I can "read" the book. I have no way of knowing whether or not I'm ready to read it. Is it rigorous? Sure; that's what I've heard.
Necessary for me at this minute? Not right this minute. I'm sure of that. But maybe for later. There's no rush. The longer I wait, the more I will bring to the book. Experience has taught me that.
For me rigor was a loose ideal when I began homeschooling. I allowed others to define it for me. I allowed others to tell me what it should look like. Eleven years of hard, hard work has propelled me toward a shift in thinking. I've learned to trust in my definition of rigor. Reading the great books, thinking about them, and listening to what others have to say about them has helped me to formulate my definition of rigor for this group of little people. Very valuable! I would heartily recommend that you explore some of the goals that you have for your kids as concretely as you can as soon as you can. Rather than allow others to choose trajectories for my arrows, it has helped me to jog over to the target and look at it a bit. Is this something I even want? If so, am I willing to pay the price to get it? (For me, the price was always higher than I thought.
It just was.
But just so you know: none of my kids could have handled the VP curriculum as written for grades 3 - 8 at the level that I deem necessary in order to educate. I couldn't get past that. Now I know that I
didn't need to. I would have been covering the curriculum; I would not have been educating my kids.
I'm sure there are others who love it. Their kids are thriving in elem, jr. high, and high school with the curriculum. I hope they will chime in so you can see if your goals and experience line up with theirs.
Enjoy your little people
Enjoy your journey