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Curriculum Indecision, Teaching from Rest, and Large Families


Amy M
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I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing when choosing a new curriculum. Part of that is personality, part is that we are overseas and I want to make a good choice, since I know I'll feel stuck with it. But in areas in which I'm insecure, I often end up buying 2 or more programs just in case I need them. Is this wise or just indecisive? My husband mentioned that I'm indecisive once about these kinds of matters, but perhaps I'm just conscientious.

 

I'm going through this right now with spelling and writing, and in the past, with math.

 

I think it's complicated with large families, as well. Part of me says to buy different curricula because I have 5 children, and not all will learn the same way. But another part of me responds that children throughout time have often all learned with the same curriculum in school classrooms, and that it would save me time as a teacher if I just used the same curriculum and didn't go through the learning curve to learn new curricula for different children.

 

For those with large families, how much does the fact of having a large family play into your curriculum decisions? Do you sometimes sacrifice the ideal curriculum and use a simpler one because of time? Have you found it easier to use the same thing for all of your children, or give them box-type curricula so that they are more independent? I'm just trying to work through some principles or ideas for how to choose curriculum in a way that satisfies my desire to give my kids a thorough education but also not take allllllllllll day (teaching from rest idea). And I don't really know how to do that with a large family. If you feel you have succeeded at this, can you help me? Is there anyone who does everything with a large family, and still feels like they weren't ragged after one month?

 

(Here's a list of things that could possibly be included in "everything": math, memory work, foreign language study, grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, history, science, art, Bible, music appreciation and instrumental lessons, nature study, poetry, geography, reading aloud to different ages of children, not to mention Shakespeare, picture study, sports classes, etc.?) :crying:

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What are your priorities? No one has time for EVERYTHING. ;) In the early years I prioritize reading, language arts, and math. Then we combine for memory work, read aloud, history, science or nature study, art, and music. Geography is combined with history, and I liberally strew books all over the house. These can be puzzle books, art books, poetry, etc.

 

Also not everything needs to be done every day. You can alternate history and science, and save art for Fridays.

 

As far as my household, I've usually used the same curriculum for each child once I find something I like. I can change the way I teach it, change the kids' assignments, and make adjustments once I'm comfortable using it. I also don't like using a ton of different curricula. It's too much for me to keep track, so we use Tapestry of Grace. It combines all the kids and quite a few subjects into one lovely unit. :001_tt1:

 

School in my house has varied between everyone sitting at the table while I walked around helping kids to scheduling sit-down time with each school-age child. During this sit down time, we'd work through the skill subjects together while another child played with the baby, the rest were working independently. Later we'd come together for history, science, or art. Right now my homeschool is in a period of adjustment. Next year I'll be homeschooling two very independent older children and two very dependent young children. It should be interesting!

 

Oh and one last thought. The best curriculum is the one that gets used. There's no point in having the most rigorous curriculum created if it sits on your shelf gathering dust. ;) Find a good curriculum that helps you get the job done.

Edited by coffeegal
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I've only got four, but similar ages to yours- 9, 7, 4, 2.  

 

Here's my (often unpopular here) opinion, which I hold only for NEUROTYPICAL children:

 

- It is more important that you find a curriculum that YOU TEACH WELL than that you find a curriculum your child "likes".  

 

The idea of learning styles and multiple intelligences is a tool that has been (according to cognitive scientist Willingham) way, way, way overdone and over-used to little concrete effect.  But, having a good teacher is a HUGE deal in terms of understanding and retention.  

 

I also live overseas, and I've also bought a lot of stuff over the last few years as I learned my own teaching style and found my footing.  I don't consider it money wasted- I needed to see what was out there to figure out what *I* could teach well.  Now I feel like I know.  For me, I had to take several programs apart, see how they worked, and then put my own thing back together from various pieces a few times to get a feel for how to design a lesson and how to teach it to my kids.  

 

All of my kids will get Singapore Math (barring true LDs showing up) because I now understand it, and I teach it well.  I can also tweak it to fit problems/issues with learning that fall in the neurotypical range.  My ds and dd learn very differently, and since I know HOW to do SM, I have no issues presenting the material, spacing the reviews, and pacing the course in a way that fits each child.  

 

I design my own writing, but I own probably 5+ writing curriculum resources.  I couldn't have learned to design my own without reading these carefully and taking them apart and putting them back together again.  I feel like writing is something to be taught mostly "in the field" so to speak, so to me, investing in my own background knowledge of the subject has made the "writing across the curriculum" thing possible.  

 

We use a specific set of workbooks to teach French, but the only reason I teach these well is because I invested in a correspondance French course for my oldest and the amount of parent-support given during that time moved me from being a bad French-as-native-langage teacher to being a decent one.  I know HOW to give dictations, analyze grammar in situ, and a number of other things that I simply never learned as a French-as-foreign-language learner.  Now I know, so now I can do it right.

 

I'll stop there, because I think I've given enough examples now!  :-)  I hope it helps a bit.  

 

 

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Does anyone do "everything" on your list? I can't imagine doing so.

 

I've switched to Wayfarers and English Lessons Through Literature this year, and I'm able to get a little more done than I could before. Not EVERYTHING on your list, but many of those things, including some things I wasn't getting to before. I am using the same things with all 3 school aged kids now, except for math and science for the older kid (I gave him the option of doing Wayfarers science or completing Apologia General Science, and he chose the latter).

 

I tried the more independent route, and it really didn't work well. It was harder to keep up with checking work, and corrections took longer, and sometimes the kids just totally didn't get from the lesson what they were supposed to get. In fact, I have to stop my second grader from trying to do math on his own because he's so independent minded, but he starts doing things wrong if he does that. The 7th grader does some things independently, of course, but the younger two really don't need to be independent yet.

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Mine are preschool through high school, and I will admit that time is a huge thing. I do some independent materials and some boxed. Sometimes I reuse things, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes just reusing something and making a few changes is good, and sometimes they need different things (I've got three math programs going for three kids). Plus there is always the possibility of me becoming bored by something.

 

We don't get to everything. Priorities.

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My husband mentioned that I'm indecisive once about these kinds of matters, but perhaps I'm just conscientious.

 

If you are indecisive about homeschool materials, welcome to my world. :) However, as a regular reader of your ItaVitaAfrica blog, I would vote for "conscientious," actually. Yup, it's official. In my dictionary, next to "conscientious," there is a lovely color photo of Amy Meyers. :D

 

You are learning as you go along with your five young children and your African life. We all are learning, wherever we are, however many children we have. And sometimes, we learn from our mistakes. If I had a dime for every "just in case" or partially utilized item I've purchased over the years, I could....... buy more stuff! Woohoo! Oh well, I chalk it up to learning on the job. Kind of like a missionary. ;)

 

I did (once) have the Singapore Math Disaster. I try not to think about it. Kittens and rainbows, kittens and rainbows. I just push the thought of that pile of (barely used) books right out of my head. We did donate it to other homeschoolers, so at least that is something positive, right? It took me a while to not feel like the World's Biggest Singapore Math Failure every time someone here mentioned Singapore Math, but in the end, we found what works great for us. And all is well.

 

Every year is different from the last, so there is always more to learn.

 

I would also say this, and I hope it's not too personal to put here (if it is, let me know, I'll take it off) -- Amy, you might have what I refer to as "decision fatigue." You and your husband have had to make some extremely serious, life-altering decisions this past year. You have added a new (and cute!) life to your family. You've kept the ship running all this time, with five very young children, and in a difficult place. I don't know what level of practical and emotional support you have around you, but not having "enough" could also factor in. I would think that you maybe make something like, oh, a thousand decisions a day? So even if you are a bit indecisive in regard to your purchases for an entire year (or more) of homeschooling these children on foreign soil, well... I think that is quite understandable, really. Your decision-maker is tired.

 

Sometimes, when my husband has been gone all week (he travels for work), I tell my children, "Mommy's brain is tired. I can't make any more decisions now, so you can't ask me any more questions until tomorrow morning, ten minutes after my second cup of coffee." The results of saying this are predictable.

 

The next morning, the girls find me drinking my coffee. One of them says, "Mommy, is that your first or...? Oh, wait, that's a question." Perplexed silence. :D

 

Be encouraged, Amy. :grouphug: I am praying for you.

 

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What are your priorities? No one has time for EVERYTHING. ;) In the early years I prioritize reading, language arts, and math. Then we combine for memory work, read aloud, history, science or nature study, art, and music. Geography is combined with history, and I liberally strew books all over the house. These can be puzzle books, art books, poetry, etc.

 

Also not everything needs to be done every day. You can alternate history and science, and save art for Fridays.

 

As far as my household, I've usually used the same curriculum for each child once I find something I like. I can change the way I teach it, change the kids' assignments, and make adjustments once I'm comfortable using it. I also don't like using a ton of different curricula. It's too much for me to keep track, so we use Tapestry of Grace. It combines all the kids and quite a few subjects into one lovely unit. :001_tt1:

 

 

Well, I put a lot of thought into my priorities and wrote them here in a personal philosophy of education. But then I started to question my philosophy. I wrote it when I was only teaching one child, and now I'm teaching 4th, 2nd, and an hour or less with my 5 and 4 yo, and even though it's all still in elementary, it's all taking longer than I'd like! I read people's "how long does your __th-grader take for school" posts, and we usually take longer. And we're still not getting everything in! We do school a lot like how you described. We emphasize the 3 Rs, combine for the social studies (with MFW, though I almost bought TOG! :laugh: ), I combine geography with history, don't do every subject every day, and strew books with MFW's "book basket" idea. But I still wondered if maybe a better way is just to go the traditional route with ABeka or MP or something. It's helpful to hear you say you can't do EVERYTHING!

 

- It is more important that you find a curriculum that YOU TEACH WELL than that you find a curriculum your child "likes".  

 

The idea of learning styles and multiple intelligences is a tool that has been (according to cognitive scientist Willingham) way, way, way overdone and over-used to little concrete effect.  But, having a good teacher is a HUGE deal in terms of understanding and retention.  

 

I also live overseas, and I've also bought a lot of stuff over the last few years as I learned my own teaching style and found my footing.  I don't consider it money wasted- I needed to see what was out there to figure out what *I* could teach well.  Now I feel like I know.  For me, I had to take several programs apart, see how they worked, and then put my own thing back together from various pieces a few times to get a feel for how to design a lesson and how to teach it to my kids.  

I'll stop there, because I think I've given enough examples now!  :-)  I hope it helps a bit.  

 

Thank you, those were helpful tips--food for thought. I think I just need to be more confident then in my choices of several curricula. :) haha   Don't stop there, more examples please! :)

 

Does anyone do "everything" on your list? I can't imagine doing so.

 

I've switched to Wayfarers and English Lessons Through Literature this year, and I'm able to get a little more done than I could before. Not EVERYTHING on your list, but many of those things, including some things I wasn't getting to before. I am using the same things with all 3 school aged kids now, except for math and science for the older kid (I gave him the option of doing Wayfarers science or completing Apologia General Science, and he chose the latter).

 

I tried the more independent route, and it really didn't work well. It was harder to keep up with checking work, and corrections took longer, and sometimes the kids just totally didn't get from the lesson what they were supposed to get. In fact, I have to stop my second grader from trying to do math on his own because he's so independent minded, but he starts doing things wrong if he does that. The 7th grader does some things independently, of course, but the younger two really don't need to be independent yet.

 

It sure looks like some people get everything done, or at least more than I am! But usually (if I'm honest), when I see their siggies, they are small families. I just wondered how to streamline more without sacrificing rigor, but maybe I'm already doing that as much as possible, and just need to find "rest" in what I'm doing.

 

I'm interested in ELTL, really. But I was concerned about the writing portion, and the spelling, not sure if would be what I was looking for, and the read-aloud every day portion--I actually thought that would take longer than what I'm currently doing (one read-aloud for all the kids together, and twice a week in WWE2 workbook for the second grader's narration--not all the stuff in ELTL, if that makes sense.)

 

Okay, your last paragraph is really helpful to put into words what I wondered about. I would still want to check everything, and I'd be unhappy with their understanding and retention. Besides, I originally chose this path because I wanted my children to love learning and have living books, and to learn together, etc. Sigh. Maybe I just need to be content with our longer days...

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If you are indecisive about homeschool materials, welcome to my world. :) However, as a regular reader of your ItaVitaAfrica blog, I would vote for "conscientious," actually. Yup, it's official. In my dictionary, next to "conscientious," there is a lovely color photo of Amy Meyers. :D

 

You are learning as you go along with your five young children and your African life. We all are learning, wherever we are, however many children we have. And sometimes, we learn from our mistakes. If I had a dime for every "just in case" or partially utilized item I've purchased over the years, I could....... buy more stuff! Woohoo! Oh well, I chalk it up to learning on the job. Kind of like a missionary. ;)

 

I did (once) have the Singapore Math Disaster. I try not to think about it. Kittens and rainbows, kittens and rainbows. I just push the thought of that pile of (barely used) books right out of my head. We did donate it to other homeschoolers, so at least that is something positive, right? It took me a while to not feel like the World's Biggest Singapore Math Failure every time someone here mentioned Singapore Math, but in the end, we found what works great for us. And all is well.

 

Every year is different from the last, so there is always more to learn.

 

I would also say this, and I hope it's not too personal to put here (if it is, let me know, I'll take it off) -- Amy, you might have what I refer to as "decision fatigue." You and your husband have had to make some extremely serious, life-altering decisions this past year. You have added a new (and cute!) life to your family. You've kept the ship running all this time, with five very young children, and in a difficult place. I don't know what level of practical and emotional support you have around you, but not having "enough" could also factor in. I would think that you maybe make something like, oh, a thousand decisions a day? So even if you are a bit indecisive in regard to your purchases for an entire year (or more) of homeschooling these children on foreign soil, well... I think that is quite understandable, really. Your decision-maker is tired.

 

Sometimes, when my husband has been gone all week (he travels for work), I tell my children, "Mommy's brain is tired. I can't make any more decisions now, so you can't ask me any more questions until tomorrow morning, ten minutes after my second cup of coffee." The results of saying this are predictable.

 

The next morning, the girls find me drinking my coffee. One of them says, "Mommy, is that your first or...? Oh, wait, that's a question." Perplexed silence. :D

 

Be encouraged, Amy. :grouphug: I am praying for you.

 

 

Oh. my. word. LOL! Really, I did. lol! This is the best post EVER! I love you. Every paragraph was better than the last. "Decision fatigue." Totally! I think I should print this out and read it daily. You are a great encourager. I think I owe you a frozen yogurt or decadent chocolate or something for this. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, tha...

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I'm interested in ELTL, really. But I was concerned about the writing portion, and the spelling, not sure if would be what I was looking for, and the read-aloud every day portion--I actually thought that would take longer than what I'm currently doing (one read-aloud for all the kids together, and twice a week in WWE2 workbook for the second grader's narration--not all the stuff in ELTL, if that makes sense.)

 

The books listed in ELTL are meant to be read by the child, though you CAN read them aloud. If your child isn't capable of reading the book, Librivox is your friend! All of the books are public domain, so people on Librivox have recorded all of them for free. :)

 

The stories within the lesson are very short and take very little time. I don't have any problem getting in 3 different levels, though now my oldest is usually doing it on his own and just has me look over his writing and give him dictation.

 

I've been pleased with the writing in the books. If the child is weaker in writing, it would be a good idea to do it a level behind. The only one of my kids using it at grade level is my precocious 2nd grader who loves writing.

 

You can use RLTL for spelling, but I'm just using the studied dictation as our spelling, since all of my kids have learned phonics. My 2nd grader doesn't do dictation yet, but he's a natural speller, so I'm not worried about it. My 4th grader is my weakest language arts student, and he does ELTL one level behind. We're working up to the copywork. I noticed that the length of the passages in the end of the year are the same as right now in week 6, so I'm currently having him copy one sentence (in cursive), then he'll do 2 sentences when he's ready. Then we'll gradually keep increasing until he's doing the whole thing by the end of the year. My 7th grader is doing level 5 because that's what is available, and it has A LOT of copywork and dictation, which is good for him. I'm totally ok with him using this level at his age. It's plenty. He is also writing narrations in other subjects with Wayfarers and outlining his science textbook.

 

Since ELTL is only 3 days per week, I find it more manageable than when I was using different things for the different parts of language arts, many of which needed to be used 4 or 5 days per week. I can't combine my kids in language arts, so this has streamlined the most for me.

 

We also do the read aloud in Wayfarers, which is 2 days per week, plus the geography read aloud that's 5 days per week. I read the Story of the World section for history aloud (7th grader reads Story of the Middle Ages on his own) and Quark Chronicles is read aloud. Yes, half our day is reading, and I love it. I just have to do most of that in the afternoon during toddler nap time. She screeches during read alouds otherwise. [emoji12] The other history and science core reading books I assign the kids to read themselves.

 

During pregnancy and early babyhood of #4, I had temporarily done less reading aloud. I really missed it. My kids learn so much more when we spend our day reading. So now, we read, read, read, they write a narration every day in different subjects (little ones draw a picture and can tell me orally about it, though my 2nd grader insists on typing a couple sentences). They have copywork and dictation (starting in level 3 of ELTL). So they're doing enough writing each day. Add in math, and then we're done!

 

Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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...

 

Here's my (often unpopular here) opinion, which I hold only for NEUROTYPICAL children:

 

- It is more important that you find a curriculum that YOU TEACH WELL than that you find a curriculum your child "likes".  

...

Had to quote this because it is sooooo true. 

 

Here's my example:

 

I taught my two oldest boys together in math for K/1st through 3rd/4th.  One big math lesson I taught to both boys at once, because the younger boy was advanced and the older boy needed review.  Worked very well, for a time. I combined Singapore/MEP/Miquon (all bits of each program--I was a crazy lady :biggrinjester: ); we spent about an hour a day on math.  Since I had very traditional math when I was in school, teaching these more conceptual programs taught *me* a lot about numbers and relationships.  MEP was especially good for this.  We worked hard, but I felt the results were worth it. My more mathy boy thrived and loved math.

 

Then life happened.  ;)  Oldest boy started feeling "stupid" because he thought was "behind" in math, I had another baby who thought sleep was optional for both of us, one of my younger children developed a chronic illness, and our family finances took a big hit.

 

SOMETHING had to change.  My husband said, "I love what you're doing for math, but does it have to be so much?"  He was right. I switched to R&S math for the older boys. Plain, boring, R&S math. :closedeyes:

 

Well, my oldest boy grew exponentially in his math confidence--the simplicity of just one book, one lesson, for math was just right for him AND for ME, the teacher. :blush:  I found that my teaching time for math was significantly streamlined, *but still effective*.  No one's test scores tanked.  ;)  My mathy boy did R&S 4, 5, 6, some of 7, and then switched to Dolciani for Pre-A. I thought that R&S would be shortchanging him... Nope!  He still loves math, and has declared that he wants to major in math. :)  The traditional, "boring", math program that was sooo much easier for me to teach to multiple children on multiple levels didn't kill anyone.

 

It can be so easy to look at different families here on the boards and think that all these high achieving kids (and parents!) are *the* standard.  Honestly, there is no normal.  What works for you *as a teacher* and your children *as students* is your normal. 

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Also, we theoretically could be done by lunch if I could read aloud while baby was awake and if each child diligently did their schoolwork without complaining or going off to play or whatever. In reality, that doesn't happen, so we're done with school and chores by dinner time and I'm fine with that. They can play with their homeschooled neighbors after dinner. :)

 

Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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I think it's complicated with large families, as well. Part of me says to buy different curricula because I have 5 children, and not all will learn the same way. But another part of me responds that children throughout time have often all learned with the same curriculum in school classrooms, and that it would save me time as a teacher if I just used the same curriculum and didn't go through the learning curve to learn new curricula for different children.

No, not everyone in those same classrooms with the same curriculum learned the same. Some thrived, some did okay, some managed to scrape by, some failed, and some dropped out.

 

Not every subject for every kid needs to be in the absolutely thrive category. There is a time and place for "just get 'er done" curricula. If that's what the whole day is though you'll have kids checking out, dragging, and you'll spend all day trying to pull them through it. In my experience every kid needs at the very, very least ONE subject that gets them interested and excited. Better if it's more than that. In my house this usually falls in science, history, literature, or high school electives. This is where one size can't fit all. Some examples across the years from very different kids are reading mythology in Old English, chemistry, forensics, novel writing, year long Narnia unit study, American Girl history, homegrown Annotated Hobbit study, year long Anne of Green Gables unit study, and such. Your kids are small enough you could possibly pull off one big family course that suits this for the bigger ones. (Little ones focus on 3 R's and just "tag-a-long" where they can or are interested.)

 

 

I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing when choosing a new curriculum. Part of that is personality, part is that we are overseas and I want to make a good choice, since I know I'll feel stuck with it. But in areas in which I'm insecure, I often end up buying 2 or more programs just in case I need them. Is this wise or just indecisive? My husband mentioned that I'm indecisive once about these kinds of matters, but perhaps I'm just conscientious.

 

I'm going through this right now with spelling and writing, and in the past, with math.

 

I ordered two (used, inexpensive) different books for one subject for one kid this year so I could more closely examine them. The online samples and reviews just weren't giving me enough information, but I was fairly sure we could use parts of both if nothing else. After looking over both of them closely we're going to use one and put the other in the school closet because it may yet be used in the future by another kid. In general I think I've gotten pretty good at knowing which curricula will or won't work for us based on samples, online reviews, and searching old posts on this board. I don't think this was indecisiveness. I'm picky about what we'll use and I wanted to be sure.

 

For those with large families, how much does the fact of having a large family play into your curriculum decisions? Do you sometimes sacrifice the ideal curriculum and use a simpler one because of time? Have you found it easier to use the same thing for all of your children, or give them box-type curricula so that they are more independent? I'm just trying to work through some principles or ideas for how to choose curriculum in a way that satisfies my desire to give my kids a thorough education but also not take allllllllllll day (teaching from rest idea). And I don't really know how to do that with a large family. If you feel you have succeeded at this, can you help me? Is there anyone who does everything with a large family, and still feels like they weren't ragged after one month?

In my house everyone has their own customized curricula, but when they were all little there was a lot more overlap. My middle two have used quite a bit of the same thing, though they're both science/math type kids and very similar in skill level. I tried to keep the older two kids together much longer than I should have and it was just frustrating all of us. When they each had a book that worked better for them the day went better. It's certainly not about little Johnny "liking" his school book. One of them was very auditory and oral and the other one struggled with auditory processing and orally regurgitating what she'd learned. Then the science trail these two left behind in my school closet was ripped through in a flash by the next two. Poof. Gone. Next, Mom? The science the middle two have done would have likely drowned the older two.

 

Surely on occasion someone got handed a book that wasn't the child's ideal, but that they'd be okay with in the long run.

 

I'm NOT doing everything with everybody every year. Who gets to decide what everything is anyway. :p  I don't do box curricula, but I do guide them toward independence to a point. Everyone from 2nd-3rd on up can run their own schedule, but I'm always right there guiding, instructing, bouncing between children, grading, encouraging, redirecting. I do a bottom-up approach to the days. I'll kick start the ones who are big enough to work on some things completely independently and then go work with the youngest. The kindy boy will be wrapped up in less than an hour and I move on to the next one, discuss what she's done, and focus on her most mom-dependent lessons. When she's pretty much wrapped up and doing the worksheets for the math lesson I already taught, I call in the next one. Lather, rinse, repeat. The big ones don't have much for mom-dependent lessons anymore, but we're constantly discussing details, lessons, topics, and such as we go through the day. 

 

 

(Here's a list of things that could possibly be included in "everything": math, memory work, foreign language study, grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, history, science, art, Bible, music appreciation and instrumental lessons, nature study, poetry, geography, reading aloud to different ages of children, not to mention Shakespeare, picture study, sports classes, etc.?) :crying:

 

 

If it's any help, my teens have done all of that list, but never all in one school year. It was spread throughout their elementary years.

 

Perhaps keep a read aloud basket and rotate part of that list through that. Like Shakespeare, geography, art/music appreciation, poetry, picture study. I'd only keep 2-3 in the basket at a time. Whenever you happen to spot a good moment carry the basket to wherever the children are, sit with them, and read.

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Do you sometimes sacrifice the ideal curriculum and use a simpler one because of time? Have you found it easier to use the same thing for all of your children, or give them box-type curricula so that they are more independent?  Is there anyone who does everything with a large family, and still feels like they weren't ragged after one month?

 

(Here's a list of things that could possibly be included in "everything": math, memory work, foreign language study, grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, history, science, art, Bible, music appreciation and instrumental lessons, nature study, poetry, geography, reading aloud to different ages of children, not to mention Shakespeare, picture study, sports classes, etc.?) :crying:

 

If the kids have similar learning styles, I try to use the same curriculum, but if they can't - it's OK.  For example, I have two auditory learners who are very easy to teach.  They both use Rod and Staff English.  My 8 year-old actually told me last year that R&S English was her "favorite book".  If I would've tried to use that program with my son, he would've cried (quite literally) and probably try to throw the book in the trash.

 

Also, I am OK with switching methods and curricula each year based on what's going on in our household.  We have a 1 year-old who is trying to kill himself on seemingly harmless household objects...we can't turn our backs for a second and he's scaling bookcases like Spiderman.  So, everybody under 8th grade has a pretty light curriculum this year.  

 

I'm kinda against independent boxed curricula (for us), but I can see where sometimes that's the only way to go.  I'm trying to use the Charlotte Mason method with my oldest two kids and I'm finding out that it's very independent at that age.  They are able to read all of their books on their own and do their own writing.

 

How could anyone cover all those subjects you listed!!!!   :svengo:  My oldest is using Ambleside Online this year for 9th grade and we have to cut a bunch of stuff out.  There's only so many hours in the day!  I had to tell myself that when I was crossing stuff off the list.  I realized this year that I can not cover *everything* in the realm of human knowledge during high school.  There are going to be gaps in their knowledge!  *gasp!*  So, we're reading less books, but the ones we do read, I want to be memorable.  I want them to sort of remember what they did in high school...as opposed to when we were kids.   :glare:   We covered so much material that it's all a big blur.  I can't even remember what classes I took in high school.  That's how much it made an impression on me.

 

You're in a unique situation, because you're overseas.  I could definitely see wanting to buy something like MFW or SL and just use the same resources.  I know a lot of the homeschool curricula is near-impossible to purchase overseas.  

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I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing when choosing a new curriculum. Part of that is personality.

--- Me too! My IRL homeschool friends all come to me when they wonder about a curriculum, sure I'll have researched it. Lol

 

I think it's complicated with large families, as well. Part of me says to buy different curricula because I have 5 children, and not all will learn the same way. But another part of me responds that children throughout time have often all learned with the same curriculum in school classrooms, and that it would save me time as a teacher if I just used the same curriculum and didn't go through the learning curve to learn new curricula for different children.

--- I've struggled with this as well, but have come to realize I'm just not able to be a good teacher when I'm using too many different things. My poor, tired brain just can't keep up. I've simplified and now have more energy and brain space to focus on teaching the child. This isn't absolute, but for the most part I do use the same things with all the kids.

 

For those with large families, how much does the fact of having a large family play into your curriculum decisions?

--- big part

 

Do you sometimes sacrifice the ideal curriculum and use a simpler one because of time?

--- yes

 

Have you found it easier to use the same thing for all of your children?

--- yes

 

Simplifying has helped greatly. Using things that are easier to use has been a big help. But easier to use does not have mean independent workbooks. I still teach the skill subjects to then individually. Also only using one curriculum per subject, no doubling up. It's tempting to supplement with all the great looking programs out there, but this runs me ragged. I'm trying to stop looking at every book list. This is harder. Lol. But I know if I can just pick one and use it as my base, only substituting where really necessary, my life would be easier.

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You need to go easy on yourself. You also need to be open to the fact that there will be an ebb and flow and that it won't look the same as it does for two children families .

 

 

1. First thing is to decide what makes you feel like a good homeschooling mother or just sit her. Not all the things, but the most important. For me, it is reading aloud so I make one read aloud time after dinner when dh could watch any toddlers we had. When I didn't feel like I was reading enough books to the littlest, I got books on tape for her--which also kept her busy .

2. Only one teacher intensive program per child. For us it's spelling and spelling doesn't start in earnest until the child no longer needs intensive reading.

3. Put the memory and poetry, etc on a loop--basically a list that repeats. Plan a group time and get as far as the day allows. Pick up again the next day. Then the extras get covered.

4. You will find you spend more time on different things different years. That's ok. Reevaluate priorities every six months or so.

5. I have absolutely just used a get ER done curriculum I thought was inferior bc I was sinking and needed to. So have my other large family friends. Guess what? God blessed it snd my kids thrived and learned more than they had from my perfect curriculum choices.(and were blessed with a calmer mother)

 

You can do this, but sometimes it takes putting aside our view of perfect and allowing His perfect to rise from the ashes.

 

And U, too, am learning that most kids can learn from most curricula.

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Well, I do do all of those things ... but definitely not all in the same year ...or in 2 or 3 or even 4 years ;) ... just at some point. For example, you can hit things like geography once in the grammar stage and once in the logic stage and really cover a good amount of material.

 

To get to the fun things like poetry and philosophy discussions and art appreciation and classical music, I put all the fun resources I find in my morning meeting basket and we go through them together one at a time. We spend maybe 10-15 minutes each morning, and when we get done with one of them, we vote about which one we want to do next. It may take me the next 10 years to get through what all is in my basket LOL, but that's ok. It doesn't all have to be done now in order to for it to be done well.

 

I also don't do different read alouds for different ages of kids. I read one book at a time at lunchtime, and since it's always a good quality literature choice, all ages enjoy it. My toddlers have enjoyed and got a surprisingly large amount out of The Hobbit and my high schoolers have enjoyed revisiting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory through their siblings' eyes. Well, I do still read picture books to the preschooler at various times through the day, but I consider that mothering/bonding time, not school. :)

 

I definitely agree with other posters that (for neuro-typical children) it's more important to find a program that you enjoy teaching and can implement well than it is to buy a different program completely customized for each kid. Most good programs and assignments can be tweaked enough to fit each kid's personality and learning style while still keeping your sanity.

 

This may sound strange, but I actually think I am more able to teach from rest when I space things out and school DOES take all day than when I try to squeeze stuff in to just a few hours and hurry to get it all done and I'm trying to keep up with a frantic pace with all of them. I'm not saying that each of my kids takes all day to do school. But school does take most of my day. My high schoolers work about 6 hours a day each, and so do I. But my middle schoolers and elementary kids do a couple hours in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon. We have lazy mornings and a big break in the afternoon and we're still done in time for me to make supper. We do school from about 9-12 and 2-5. I find I'm much less frazzled this way and much more likely to utilize our time well this way. YMMV.

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I think it's complicated with large families, as well. Part of me says to buy different curricula because I have 5 children, and not all will learn the same way. But another part of me responds that children throughout time have often all learned with the same curriculum in school classrooms, and that it would save me time as a teacher if I just used the same curriculum and didn't go through the learning curve to learn new curricula for different children.

 

(Here's a list of things that could possibly be included in "everything": math, memory work, foreign language study, grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, history, science, art, Bible, music appreciation and instrumental lessons, nature study, poetry, geography, reading aloud to different ages of children, not to mention Shakespeare, picture study, sports classes, etc.?) :crying:

 

I and quoted part of SilverMoon's post as well, but when I was trying to cut out parts, my iPad ate it all. So insert "All of my kids have a customized curriculum."

 

I sat here debating whether to talk from K forward or from 12th backward to discuss my thoughts. I think 12th backward is probably the best approach bc it helps you see where they end up. I'm going to talk about my college sophomore and my current rising sr bc theirs are the ones that are freshest in my memory. My college sophomore graduated from high school with alg-based high school physics and 5 semesters of college calculus+ based physics. His first ever physics class was not taken until 8th grade. He had 6 foreign language credits (3 yrs each of Latin and French). His first foreign language class wasn't until 7th grade. He didn't even read on grade level until near the end of 4th, but by 10th, he entered into a national essay contest with close to 10,000 entrants and earned one of 20 or 30 honorable mentions (below 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.). His first decent writing assignment wasnt completed until 6th. (It is hard to write well when you can't read!)

 

I just finished writing my rising high school sr's course descriptions for her college applications. She will have 15 foreign language credits. (No, that is not a typo.) She has 4 Latin (from 7th-10th), 4 Russian (9th-12th), and 7 French (7th-12th. The extra credit in there is for a French immersion camp at BYU which granted 1high school French credit.) Of all of those languages, she took intro level Latin in 6th and dabbled in Tell Me More and French Prep in late elementary school. And when I say dabbled, I mean maybe 20 mins per day.)

 

She is advanced across the board, but she took zero APs and zero DE classes. Not bc she didn't want challenge, but bc she wanted more challenge in ways not accessible through those courses. She loves learning and exploring her passions deeply. She has read novels like War and Peace, epics like Paradise Lost. Her sr English credit is going to be an independent study on Shakespeare culminating in a sr thesis. She never read Shakespeare in 4th grade. The first time was Comedy of Errors in 6th. We did quite a few in 7th.

 

My kids in K do math, reading, and handwriting. That is it. 1hr. My 4th graders (just had one this past yr) spend typically around 4 to 41/2. She took about 5 hrs per day, but she is a very slow worker.

 

Anyway, my point is that they have 13 yrs to learn at home. But it doesn't even end there. They can keep on learning as adults. 1 of the Russian depts we visited had a professor who didn't even start learning Russian until 25!

 

That is a long way of saying that they don't have to do everything and most certainly not every yr. They can learn at their own pace. They can thrive on their interests. And where they are as young adults is absolutely not dependent on doing everything everyday, every yr from a young age.

 

ETA: I wanted to share this link, but I didn't want to lose my,post while hunting for it. This woman is now a Russian translator. She didn't start taking Russian until college and it was not her original plan. She started with French. (Guess I wanted to share it bc my Dd loves foreign languages and we are most definitely not WTMers who start this young. ;)) https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/multilingual-wordsmiths-part-5-jamey-gambrell-russia/

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We have a large-ish family (5 DC).  I have tried sooo many different curriculum choices over the years.  I also spend tons of time researching curriculum.  I think I have a "grass is greener" complex.  Most times after trying a new program, I realize it's not really what I wanted.  Often times the idea of a program is wonderful and the reality is no where near as fun and exciting, and my DC don't really appreciate the changes or schoolwork for that matter!  Finding the perfect program to make it fun seems to be lost on them.   :(

 

We have set on one math program.  I still have others we've tried stored on my bookcase "just in case", but honestly, everyone is good with our current program.  We do use Saxon K and inexpensive workbooks before beginning MUS in 1st grade.  Before we got to this point, I tried a few other programs.  I often wish we'd just stuck with the first one we tried, as my DD struggled with all of them!  I think she needed consistency more than that illusive perfect program.  Same with phonics.  Many moms try program after program for phonics, when the reality is that they just weren't read for reading instruction.  When they are ready to learn, most programs will be just fine.  They'll think they finally found the perfect phonics program, but the reality was it was often better timing for their child.  I guess my point here is that most programs are perfectly fine for educating your DC.

 

I also try to combine as much as possible.  There are some wonderful books that can be used for a wide age range, and many of the subjects you listed, can be combined for most ages.  We used ELTL for language arts this past year, which had a picture to study for each child (I was doing 3 levels of it).  After one week, I realized it was pretty ridiculous to have separate picture studies for each child, so we all focused on the same picture.   For read alouds, we vary the reading level of the book.  Most classic books are enjoyed by any age, but I try to schedule an easier one followed by a more challenging one.  For example, next year, we'll have Farmer Boy followed by The Hobbit.  It's only one book for me to read-aloud at a time, but there is (hopefully) at least one book for each child to enjoy throughout the year.  They will have more age specific things assigned for individual reading time as well, but that doesn't require extra time on my part.  

 

Another thing I've learned is not to get caught up on the content type subjects, which are most of what you listed in your "everything" list.  The important subjects are your skill subjects.  We now prefer to do these first thing.  If we don't get to history or science for the day, it's not a big deal.  However, frequently skipping math or writing is a big deal!   For this reason, we do some subjects year round (especially math & phonics/reading).   By doing this, they don't forget it over the breaks.  We often do math over long weekends as well.  Next year our key areas will be math, Latin, composition, and literature.  Everything else will be secondary.  Many of our subjects will be covered once a week or tucked into our "morning basket" to be pulled out at lunch time.

 

Finally, a great tip I found helpful was not to get caught up on the time spent in a program.  Take two or more years to complete a book if needed!  There is nothing that says you must finish a particular book by the end of the year.  We will be starting Our Mother Tongue next year.  I'm planning on completing it over the next 2 years.  One of my DC's handwriting books will be covered over two years, since it's a bit long.  While you could finish in a year, there's no reason you have to rush through it.  Another idea is to focus on a particular subject for a specific time.  It could be a week, a month, a term, or an entire year.  We often break our year into 3-4 terms and have some extras we focus on each term.  One term might have nature study, another Shakespeare, a third on a handicraft.   Some families have a history semester and a science semester.  The same amount of work is being covered over the span of the year, but it's one less subject to cover each day or week.  

Edited by Holly
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With our children I have tried to pick curriculum that is non-consumable so that I don't have to reinvent the wheel each time around. I also don't have to order something to get us started. Money really is a big factor in my curriculum choices.

 

I also try to take a lot short cuts. I hope I'm not short changing my children by doing so but life is what it is and we can only get so much done. I figure that if I have them read or read to them several different enjoyable history books of different eras through out their school years that we'll probably have roughly covered our bases. I don't give them assignments on these books. I don't do formal science until jr high. We do family Bible time every morning which covers Bible and memory work. We're about 2/3 of the way through memorizing the Sermon on the Mount as a family. If you're a KJV family that should adaquately cover vocabulary. My 5yo adores our audio Bible (with certain chapters removed from his playlist--like Sodom and Gommorah). He asked today what a prostitute was! You can learn hymns together as a family for music, vocabulary and poetry. For nature study we just keep alot of field guides on hand and encourage conversations about everything we find around us. In Africa that would be a lot of fun because everything would be new. You could do a once per week entry in a nature notebook CM style if you wanted to.

 

When it really comes down to it I also heavily focus on the skill based subjects and Bible study and just let everything else come piece by piece in a somewhat guided unschoolish sort of way. We formally do MEP, R&S grammar and WWS1. They're also currently reading a 1950's school science text and Napoleon's Buttons for science. All this reminds me that I need to repick up the history read aloud we started ages ago (read alouds feel IMPOSSIBLE with 5 under 6). In the past we did formal spelling instruction and reading/phonics work. DS13 is just getting into some electronics and programming with his dad. DD13 is formally learning to sew. I let a lot of stuff slide because I have to.

 

Really though you have to think practically about where you want your child to be when they leave your home and decide where your priorities lie and what skills they in particular are likely going to need to have. It's OK if you let art slide unless of course art is in their bones. Most people can live life quite functionally without being able to tell a Rembrandt from a Van Gogh or can't play an instrument. That said, you can always get a few books for them to browse art with or a cheap instrument to experiment with with the help of some youtube videos. Exposure to life doesn't all have to be done formally.

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It is more important that you find a curriculum that YOU TEACH WELL than that you find a curriculum your child "likes".  

 

:iagree:  Yep. The best curriculum is the one that gets done. The one that gets done is the one mama likes. I learned this great truth on these forums many moons ago, and it has really helped me make successful curriculum decisions.

 

Chelli recently asked about practical schole suggestions. The first thing I thought of that helped in our home was focusing on the 3R's. I found I cannot have a whole boatload of subjects and maintain any semblance of peace.

 

You can combine so much under the writing and reading R's. Bonnie Landry, who has seven children, covers all her elementary language arts with dictation. Any content subject can go under reading. The rest is gravy, and can be interest-led, which also is great for schole. I would suggest that you spend what you need to find solid curriculum for the 3R's that you like.

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I have no advice. I am exactly the same, and hopefully you can find some comfort in knowing you are not alone. :) Lately I feel like I am constantly in the researching phase. Every year/day I struggle to strike the balance between what I want to do, and the reality of what I can realistically accomplish with six kids. And yes I have been known to buy more than one curricula just in case. ;). So it's not just you. :)

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.

 

All of my kids will get Singapore Math (barring true LDs showing up) because I now understand it, and I teach it well. I can also tweak it to fit problems/issues with learning that fall in the neurotypical range. My ds and dd learn very differently, and since I know HOW to do SM, I have no issues presenting the material, spacing the reviews, and pacing the course in a way that fits each child.

 

In this example, did you learn SM through teaching it the first time and as you go (prep 1 lesson at a time), or prep through the entire thing before beginning your year?

 

Can you tell me more about what you mean by "taking it apart?" Thanks & sorry for the thread jack! GG

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In this example, did you learn SM through teaching it the first time and as you go (prep 1 lesson at a time), or prep through the entire thing before beginning your year?

 

Can you tell me more about what you mean by "taking it apart?" Thanks & sorry for the thread jack! GG

 

I'll see how far I can get before the 2yo protests... it might get long!  

 

For math, I learned to teach math in the following way:

- First, background knowledge.  I have a degree in physics, and so feel comfortable that I *know* math.  

- Next, I first bought and used RightStart Math B.  This program is what taught me to teach first grade math well.  Ultimately, I did not stay with RS (we only got 2/3rds through B) because the format of the program drove me crazy.  I don't like spiral, I don't like scripting, and I didn't like learning 4 minutes of clocks, 10 minutes of regrouping, 2 minutes of calendar, 3 minutes of whatever... in each lesson.  And because of the spiral nature, finding a way to accelerate the program was near impossible.  BUT, I do credit RS with showing me what elementary math COULD be if I educated myself properly first.  

- On to SM.  I read the HIG, especially in areas that were new to me like Asian mental math techniques, I watched endless videos on Educationunboxed.com to figure out how to use cuisinaire rods (not a required element of SM, but so awesome!), I read many posts on here about Asian math.  

- Now I have some teaching experience.  One kid in SM5, one kid in 2b.  

- This summer, I'm reading two additional books on the Singapore method- Step-by-Step Model Drawing (because I still feel weak when explaining difficult word problems and not yet being able to use algebra to solve), and Elementary Mathematics for Teachers because I want a global look at SM so that I am less reliant on the HIG.  So, the teacher-training process continues!

 

When I say take it apart and put it back together again, I mean it like this:  Many people dislike SM because there are so many components, and what a teacher puts in a lesson is not always immediately obvious.  There is the textbook to cover, yes, but what about review, drill, mental math, additional word problems, etc?  What I disliked about RightStart was having these various components forced on me according to the manual's schedule.  What I've learned to love about SM is the flexibility of adding what is needed, when it's needed.  I do this on the fly.  Each math lesson I start off with a warm-up of review problems.  Sometimes it's a concept we've just covered, sometimes it's a concept we haven't seen in a while and has gotten rusty, sometimes it's just mental math.  Sometimes this warm-up is drill if we are working on a new fact set.  Then the main lesson, which may or may not cover 1-3 workbook exercises.  Sometimes I don't teach a lesson at all, and instead give the review page form the textbook as a sort of evaluation to see what might need review before moving on.  Every lesson is taught with cuisinaire rods using methods I learned from educationunboxed (for SM1-3.  For SM4+, the whiteboard is usually all I need).  So when I say take it apart and put it back together, I mean that I had to remember how I learned math, remember how RS teaches math, look at how SM teaches math, and look at the needs of my individual students for that individual week, and pull out the elements that meet those needs.  If you haven't made yourself comfortable with math, in one way or another, you are stuck following a curriculum to the letter, because you can't tell if it's *really important* that clocks be taught *right at this moment* or if that section could be put aside in favor of advancing addition with regrouping (or whatever).  You don't have the confidence to skip reviewing one thing, and instead review another, unless you can be sure you aren't ruining your kids forever.  :-)  And so on.  

 

Anyway, that's math.  

 

Where things have REALLY been pulled apart and put back together in my mind is writing!  The number of writing curriculums I have gone through to figure out their inner workings is embarrassing.  But now I don't use a curriculum.  I do plan lessons out for about six weeks at a time, but they are lessons I hand pick and create to fit our needs and not lessons that follow any given purchased writing product.  I can talk more about that if you'd like, but for now, I've got to go get our day started (Europe time zone!)

 

Also, one of my current projects in learning enough about geography and teaching it that I can then do the same thing with geography, because again, I find curriculum products don't meet my needs exactly, and I just hate using stuff that I don't feel is tailor-made.  Not everyone feels that way, and there's nothing wrong with just working through a book.  I'm just a little on the crazy side.  :-)  

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I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing when choosing a new curriculum. Part of that is personality, part is that we are overseas and I want to make a good choice, since I know I'll feel stuck with it. But in areas in which I'm insecure, I often end up buying 2 or more programs just in case I need them. Is this wise or just indecisive? My husband mentioned that I'm indecisive once about these kinds of matters, but perhaps I'm just conscientious.

 

I'm going through this right now with spelling and writing, and in the past, with math.

 

I think it's complicated with large families, as well. Part of me says to buy different curricula because I have 5 children, and not all will learn the same way. But another part of me responds that children throughout time have often all learned with the same curriculum in school classrooms, and that it would save me time as a teacher if I just used the same curriculum and didn't go through the learning curve to learn new curricula for different children.

 

For those with large families, how much does the fact of having a large family play into your curriculum decisions? Do you sometimes sacrifice the ideal curriculum and use a simpler one because of time? Have you found it easier to use the same thing for all of your children, or give them box-type curricula so that they are more independent? I'm just trying to work through some principles or ideas for how to choose curriculum in a way that satisfies my desire to give my kids a thorough education but also not take allllllllllll day (teaching from rest idea). And I don't really know how to do that with a large family. If you feel you have succeeded at this, can you help me? Is there anyone who does everything with a large family, and still feels like they weren't ragged after one month?

 

(Here's a list of things that could possibly be included in "everything": math, memory work, foreign language study, grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, history, science, art, Bible, music appreciation and instrumental lessons, nature study, poetry, geography, reading aloud to different ages of children, not to mention Shakespeare, picture study, sports classes, etc.?) :crying:

 

What our life looks like:

 

 

 

So, talking through part 1 of this situation, you know, right, that the security blanket curriculum isn't necessary?  I think it makes a great back up plan, but then I wonder, with two curriculums on hand, do you waffle on one instead of just throwing yourself into the game full tilt?  Does it make you question yourself all year long or switch when something has a hiccup?  I have zero doubt you are conscientious.  I am certain you are - I think mamas who really care about their children's well-being and education worry about these things.  :)

 

Frankly I would not buy several curricula and I am unsure if you mean for currently or for looking ahead.  If you're thinking about looking forward, I'd give you an adamant no... Trust me when I say you just cannot foresee what you might need in the future.  

 

I think moms really just want "the best" for their kids and they seek out what that is.  I went through this for several years.  I stuck with TWTM for a long season (my oldest daughter's education essentially from K until -I think - her 7th grade year.  Then I began my quest.........  And curriculum jumped for years.  I think it made me knowledgeable about what I liked and didn't like, but significantly less effective because I was switching, waffling, perhaps even less committed.

 

I have found there is the "best" curriculum and then there is the best curriculum that works for me and they are not usually the same.  Also, know that curriculum, like jeans, comes in trends and fads!!!! Oh my goodness!  One moment Sonlight is the best, the next it's Tapestry, then My Father's World, then Life of Fred, then Math Mammoth, Morning Basket (aka Preschool Circle Time as it was derived from - Cindy Rollins)  now it's Teaching from Rest.  I think they are ALL great ideas/curriculum/etc. , but do recognize them for what they are - fads/trends within the homeschooling movement.  They come, they go.  Each has something great to offer and I'm grateful (you know, because I've owned and used it ALL) but, sixteen years into this, I can step back and ask myself, are these the new mom jeans or is this something I can utilize and make work in my home?

 

I think Delectable Education has a good discussion on how to rotate many topics, I believe they talk about 21?  Frankly, I'll just put this out there, while I've tried to fit in everything you've listed, I cannot.  I'm one person and my house has to run.  Not only do you educate five people, but each them has to eat, be bathed, and for goodness' sakes, they even all wear clothes! (And they like them clean - the nerve!)

 

You cannot both teach from rest and cram so much crap in your day that you can't breathe.  Can't.  Cannot.  I swear it.  If there was a way I'm certain I would have found it through either sheer will, hard work, or massive prayer over the last sixteen years. 

 

I will tell you what *I* do for each of them:

 

Math - I delay formal math until age 10.  I do.  I justify it with articles from Teaching the Trivium AND massive boardgame playing.  I don't even feel guilty.  And moreover, I used my 14yo as a guinea pig.  She had no math (except the occasional panic attack math placement test to make sure that she could pick up on age appropriate concepts each year.)  The theory was that the average 10 or 11 year old could pick up a 5th grade book with NO formal math instruction and readily learn it.  The article was completely correct and at that point I decided that formal math with a six year old was the biggest waste of effort I'd ever spent in my life.  I've now experienced the same phenomenon with another child.  The first wasn't mathy, but she isn't struggling in Algebra.  (Unlike my VERY formally educated oldest child who rocked math right up til mid Pre-Algebra and then hit a wall it took us three years to overcome.)  Once a Teaching Textbooks hater, I am a fan.  My current 12yo is using Math Mammoth and LoF.  She's very mathy and loves to "play" with math a la LoF.  My 17yo is taking his math at college - he's passed me in ability.  I max out at the end of  Algebra 2.  My current 14yo is using Algebra within Reach.  My 11yo is using Rod & Staff.  (I told you've I've owned everything.)  ;)

 

Memory Work - look at the little index box idea over at Simply Charlotte Mason blog.  The woman is a genius.  Then toss it into your Morning Time routine.  Will you memorize mass quantities of information?  Nope.  But that's not the point.  Slow and steady wins the race and it is the ACT of memorization that strengthens the mind, not the quantity.

 

Foreign Language - I'm useless to  you.  My oldest didn't do foreign language until her senior year. She took a year of Russian and then went on to take Russian 3 and 4 at our university and a year of Latin as well.  LOVED it!  (I will say we did Latin with her.)

Next oldest is outsourced - German this year at CC.  The 14yo is taking Spanish at our homeschool group.  I think she will find foeign language at the college level more challenging so she will do Spanish 1, 2, 3, and 4 there.  She will work through memorizing Latin vocabulary -the cards from Latina Christiana.  We just mark ziploc bags, numbered, then rotate through.  

 

Grammar - I love elementary grammar.  Love it.  For my grammar/language arts adept kids I use Rod & Staff.  For the ones that need more help - First Language Lessons.  We don't do grammar beyond elementary/middle school.  It moves into writing.  I use IEW and WWS as more independent programs.  This worked very well with the two oldest. Both managed A or A- in Comp I and Comp II at college classes. 

 

Phonics - I use OPGTTR for my neurotypicals and Barton for my dyslexics.  

 

Reading - After the kids are reading fairly well,  I give them books BELOW their level and a reading light.   We have "read or sleep" naptime. This lasts up to about two hours and it is a lifetime commitment in our house.  Even our 20yo still does read or sleep afternoons when she is here.  Between read or sleep afternoons and an extra 30-60 minutes of "stay up and read" time at night (or you can go to sleep) they fit in about 3 hours of reading each day.  It "nurtures" readers.  ALL of my kids are avid readers.  The only exception is my severely dyslexic DS and even he is transitioning, but we also allow him to listen to quality audiobooks during these times.  As a result, they love books.  This is my biggest recommendation, not only to create readers, but with five kids, you really need an hour or so of "down" time.  It's sanity saving and consider it burnout insurance.

 

Spelling - I either have had natural spellers (no instruction needed) or (diagnosed) dyslexics.  I've found spelling curriculum a waste of my time.

 

Writing - I do copywork in K-4/5 and then move into IEW and then WWS, then straight to community college classes.

 

Vocabulary - If they are being read to and reading in vast quantities from quality literature, this is probably not a valuable use of your time.  Eat a bon-bon.  Unless, of course, you have lots of spare time and would like to fit in one more thing.  Have at it then! ;)

 

History - In the K-4/5 grades we combine.  This is part of Morning Time (SOTW) and then they are assigned history, biography, or historical fiction literature.  As they get older we move into the Geneveive Foster books.  We essentially do it like TWTM suggests and then add in an IEW history writing bit.  My kids adore history so that's an easy fit.

 

Science is harder for me.   We do a TON of nature study.  Our home is essentially one big nature study.  Planted sunflowers yesterday and found and id'd a snake, worked in the garden, and are eagerly anticipating the first catepillars on our milkweed.  Formal science - apologia.  I did everything with DD.  I outsourced DS in high school and I am doing Biology at home with DD(14) but I'm outsourcing the labs.  I'm science weak, IMO.  Tuesdays and Thursdays - not every day.  I do work science into our Morning Basket time in rotation - combined age groups.

 

Art - the best I can do is give them tons of time and art supplies.  I do artsy read alouds when the mood hits me for the younger kids.  Thus far I only have one very artsy child and she's just 12 so I don't know what she will "look" like in high school.

 

Bible -we read it and I also do Teaching Hearts Training Minds as part of memory and morning time.  I have some of Kay Arthur's books I want to work in this year.

 

Instrumental lessons - oldest DD did some limited violin and she also did piano.  She's taught the little girls some piano.  I'd love to find someone (and the $$) to come into our home and do lessons with the girls  and 11yo ds, one right after another!  However, this is NOT my skill set.  They do play several times per week, but it isn't formal anymore.  This is the one area I am sad about.  I really see the value in at least piano.  Music appreciation comes in the form of listening - the van is a great place for composer CDs, especially the Classical Kids CDs because they create interest.  The books are good at Morning Time worked in on occasion and then I hit Goodwill for CDs that we play at random.

 

Nature Study is my strength.  We spend a crazy amount of time outside and live near a nature trail as well.  We put up bird houses, bird feeders, planted perennial gardens with butterfly and hummingbird flowers.  We have a huge garden and have been planting many trees.  I suggest that if you own your home, you simply invest in your yard first and foremost.  Read the Burgess books as part of your Morning Time, or, if you have the time, on a blanket outside in the afternoon! :)  Catch tadpoles, raise caterpillars, plant your yard to wonderful things.

 

I do not read aloud to the various ages.  I target various ages, but generally, all kids are present except for morning time.  High schoolers are now excused from that.  Evening readings will vary from young adult (appropriate) selections to last week we re-read Charlotte's Web.  (Who doesn't like E.B. White?)  It rotates.  I do not mark out separate times.

 

Sports - we no longer drive ourselves crazy.

 

HOWEVER, we did do Mock this year and we will do it again this coming year and the driving/commitment is more than soccer ever was.  However, we've reserved this until high school and I'm so grateful that DS has his license this year!

 

Shakespeare is a read aloud for youngers (Lambs Tales) and assigned reading for high school students during the Medieval history year - Year 2.

 

The important thing to realize is that these are ALL good things, but they don't have to all be stuffed into one year.

I am very (pleasantly) surprised at what Ana (oldest DD) remembers of her homeschooling years and how much we fit in - but it was over the course of K-12, not each year.  

I would suggest taking a long range view of homeschooling.  It will help you to not go crazy. :)

 

Do you realize that picture study was often just one artist/composer per term?  So that's like 3 (give or take) a year?  Toss these things in with that memory box and just "visit" it - not stay for a long while.

Half of our stress is thinking that we must THOROUGHLY teach every facet.  No.  Nope.  Uh uh.  It is enough to take ten minutes on one artist every week for six months.  Trust me, they'll learn.  I like SWB's "One new, two review" idea applied to history, science, language arts, etc.   Essentially when we sit down to Morning Basket, we'll review yesterday's lesson, just a couple things, then move onto the short new day teaching.  Do this each day and they'll quickly cover things.

 

Don't intend on "going deep" into everything.  You can do review in 5 minutes and then do 10 minutes of teaching.  That's enough for little kids (K to age 10) on science, history, language arts, etc.  

 

 

If I break it down into MUSTS, it goes like this:

 

 

In K-3/4 make sure your kid can READ, and read well.  Do not keep moving on.  If you do NOTHING except have him read 2 hours a day, have him read to you twenty minutes a day, and you read to him an hour, that's FINE.  Just make sure he/she can read, will read, and does read.  And read aloud - never ever stop reading aloud.  It will come back to benefit you when it's time to teach writing.

 

In grades 5-8, basic paragraph structure, more reading - deep and wide, keep reading aloud, and make sure their math computation (facts memorization) is down COLD and fast, assigned reading.  Keep reading aloud.

 

Because if the foundation is laid and it's firm, they can FLY when they hit ages 13/14 and they are ready to be go-getters.  Teach them to use a planner by 8th grade.  Continue to read aloud.  Daily math, daily language arts, assigned reading.

 

 

What does this look like in our day?

 

 

Morning Basket - together - littles, elementary, middle school kids

This is our read alouds (history, lit., science - multiple or in rotation and sometimes includes composers or artist picture books) This is also our Bible time and memory work time and sometimes poetry recitation. This is a minimum of an hour and sometimes two.  It's sometimes broken up (inside and outside) or with a break but most often straight with a diaper change in the middle, lol.

 

Table Time - copywork, math, grammar  - I'm hovering, helping, teaching, clarifying as needed.  This is an hour-ish.  I figure about 5 minutes of copywork or handwriting, about 20-25 minutes of math, and then a half hour of grammar.  I could be a little short here.

 

There is a little block here that science teaching (EFFICIENT and direct science teaching without over-teaching) can be slid in right here.  

 

Any independent work - assigned reading, additional copywork, writing assignments after a teaching/assignment.

 

A lot of this can be outside so that littles can run like baby wild things. :D

 

Lunch

This is a good space for another read aloud

Naptime (Read or Sleep)  - I like this to be free for me.  Sometimes I must teach - if I don't have time for Barton later, this is now.  If I need to work with writing and the 14yo or clarify a math/algebra concept with older kids, this is now.  But we work pretty hard for this to be 1.5-2 hours of quiet.

 

Afternoon - Barton and most of the kids are playing outside or inside except the one-on-one kiddo.

 

We go outside quite a lot throughout the day.  I'd love to say we have a set aside time for nature study, but no.  It's our life.  We garden, we watch birds at the feeder, we plant seeds in the evenings or on weekends, we go on the trail, etc.

 

Clean-Up / Laundry put away

Supper Prep

Supper

Family Time

Family Read Aloud

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:iagree:  Yep. The best curriculum is the one that gets done. The one that gets done is the one mama likes. I learned this great truth on these forums many moons ago, and it has really helped me make successful curriculum decisions.

 

 

 

 

Yes.

 

I was listening to Pam Barnhill on Homeschool Solutions this week about planners.   I think the problem is eternal optimism.

 

We actually BELIEVE that if we own it, we really will DO it.

 

I figure it takes about ten years of selling curriculum you paid full price for at less than half of it's original cost to swallow the fact that if it's super teacher intensive, no matter how awesome it is, that you will not ever teach it longer than two weeks.  

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What our life looks like:

 

 

 

So, talking through part 1 of this situation, you know, right, that the security blanket curriculum isn't necessary?  I think it makes a great back up plan, but then I wonder, with two curriculums on hand, do you waffle on one instead of just throwing yourself into the game full tilt?  Does it make you question yourself all year long or switch when something has a hiccup?  I have zero doubt you are conscientious.  I am certain you are - I think mamas who really care about their children's well-being and education worry about these things.   :)

 

Frankly I would not buy several curricula and I am unsure if you mean for currently or for looking ahead.  If you're thinking about looking forward, I'd give you an adamant no... Trust me when I say you just cannot foresee what you might need in the future.  

 

I think moms really just want "the best" for their kids and they seek out what that is.  I went through this for several years.  I stuck with TWTM for a long season (my oldest daughter's education essentially from K until -I think - her 7th grade year.  Then I began my quest.........  And curriculum jumped for years.  I think it made me knowledgeable about what I liked and didn't like, but significantly less effective because I was switching, waffling, perhaps even less committed.

 

I have found there is the "best" curriculum and then there is the best curriculum that works for me and they are not usually the same.  Also, know that curriculum, like jeans, comes in trends and fads!!!! Oh my goodness!  One moment Sonlight is the best, the next it's Tapestry, then My Father's World, then Life of Fred, then Math Mammoth, Morning Basket (aka Preschool Circle Time as it was derived from - Cindy Rollins)  now it's Teaching from Rest.  I think they are ALL great ideas/curriculum/etc. , but do recognize them for what they are - fads/trends within the homeschooling movement.  They come, they go.  Each has something great to offer and I'm grateful (you know, because I've owned and used it ALL) but, sixteen years into this, I can step back and ask myself, are these the new mom jeans or is this something I can utilize and make work in my home?

 

I think Delectable Education has a good discussion on how to rotate many topics, I believe they talk about 21?  Frankly, I'll just put this out there, while I've tried to fit in everything you've listed, I cannot.  I'm one person and my house has to run.  Not only do you educate five people, but each them has to eat, be bathed, and for goodness' sakes, they even all wear clothes! (And they like them clean - the nerve!)

 

You cannot both teach from rest and cram so much crap in your day that you can't breathe.  Can't.  Cannot.  I swear it.  If there was a way I'm certain I would have found it through either sheer will, hard work, or massive prayer over the last sixteen years. 

 

I will tell you what *I* do for each of them:

 

Math - I delay formal math until age 10.  I do.  I justify it with articles from Teaching the Trivium AND massive boardgame playing.  I don't even feel guilty.  And moreover, I used my 14yo as a guinea pig.  She had no math (except the occasional panic attack math placement test to make sure that she could pick up on age appropriate concepts each year.)  The theory was that the average 10 or 11 year old could pick up a 5th grade book with NO formal math instruction and readily learn it.  The article was completely correct and at that point I decided that formal math with a six year old was the biggest waste of effort I'd ever spent in my life.  I've now experienced the same phenomenon with another child.  The first wasn't mathy, but she isn't struggling in Algebra.  (Unlike my VERY formally educated oldest child who rocked math right up til mid Pre-Algebra and then hit a wall it took us three years to overcome.)  Once a Teaching Textbooks hater, I am a fan.  My current 12yo is using Math Mammoth and LoF.  She's very mathy and loves to "play" with math a la LoF.  My 17yo is taking his math at college - he's passed me in ability.  I max out at the end of  Algebra 2.  My current 14yo is using Algebra within Reach.  My 11yo is using Rod & Staff.  (I told you've I've owned everything.)   ;)

 

Memory Work - look at the little index box idea over at Simply Charlotte Mason blog.  The woman is a genius.  Then toss it into your Morning Time routine.  Will you memorize mass quantities of information?  Nope.  But that's not the point.  Slow and steady wins the race and it is the ACT of memorization that strengthens the mind, not the quantity.

 

Foreign Language - I'm useless to  you.  My oldest didn't do foreign language until her senior year. She took a year of Russian and then went on to take Russian 3 and 4 at our university and a year of Latin as well.  LOVED it!  (I will say we did Latin with her.)

Next oldest is outsourced - German this year at CC.  The 14yo is taking Spanish at our homeschool group.  I think she will find foeign language at the college level more challenging so she will do Spanish 1, 2, 3, and 4 there.  She will work through memorizing Latin vocabulary -the cards from Latina Christiana.  We just mark ziploc bags, numbered, then rotate through.  

 

Grammar - I love elementary grammar.  Love it.  For my grammar/language arts adept kids I use Rod & Staff.  For the ones that need more help - First Language Lessons.  We don't do grammar beyond elementary/middle school.  It moves into writing.  I use IEW and WWS as more independent programs.  This worked very well with the two oldest. Both managed A or A- in Comp I and Comp II at college classes. 

 

Phonics - I use OPGTTR for my neurotypicals and Barton for my dyslexics.  

 

Reading - After the kids are reading fairly well,  I give them books BELOW their level and a reading light.   We have "read or sleep" naptime. This lasts up to about two hours and it is a lifetime commitment in our house.  Even our 20yo still does read or sleep afternoons when she is here.  Between read or sleep afternoons and an extra 30-60 minutes of "stay up and read" time at night (or you can go to sleep) they fit in about 3 hours of reading each day.  It "nurtures" readers.  ALL of my kids are avid readers.  The only exception is my severely dyslexic DS and even he is transitioning, but we also allow him to listen to quality audiobooks during these times.  As a result, they love books.  This is my biggest recommendation, not only to create readers, but with five kids, you really need an hour or so of "down" time.  It's sanity saving and consider it burnout insurance.

 

Spelling - I either have had natural spellers (no instruction needed) or (diagnosed) dyslexics.  I've found spelling curriculum a waste of my time.

 

Writing - I do copywork in K-4/5 and then move into IEW and then WWS, then straight to community college classes.

 

Vocabulary - If they are being read to and reading in vast quantities from quality literature, this is probably not a valuable use of your time.  Eat a bon-bon.  Unless, of course, you have lots of spare time and would like to fit in one more thing.  Have at it then! ;)

 

History - In the K-4/5 grades we combine.  This is part of Morning Time (SOTW) and then they are assigned history, biography, or historical fiction literature.  As they get older we move into the Geneveive Foster books.  We essentially do it like TWTM suggests and then add in an IEW history writing bit.  My kids adore history so that's an easy fit.

 

Science is harder for me.   We do a TON of nature study.  Our home is essentially one big nature study.  Planted sunflowers yesterday and found and id'd a snake, worked in the garden, and are eagerly anticipating the first catepillars on our milkweed.  Formal science - apologia.  I did everything with DD.  I outsourced DS in high school and I am doing Biology at home with DD(14) but I'm outsourcing the labs.  I'm science weak, IMO.  Tuesdays and Thursdays - not every day.  I do work science into our Morning Basket time in rotation - combined age groups.

 

Art - the best I can do is give them tons of time and art supplies.  I do artsy read alouds when the mood hits me for the younger kids.  Thus far I only have one very artsy child and she's just 12 so I don't know what she will "look" like in high school.

 

Bible -we read it and I also do Teaching Hearts Training Minds as part of memory and morning time.  I have some of Kay Arthur's books I want to work in this year.

 

Instrumental lessons - oldest DD did some limited violin and she also did piano.  She's taught the little girls some piano.  I'd love to find someone (and the $$) to come into our home and do lessons with the girls  and 11yo ds, one right after another!  However, this is NOT my skill set.  They do play several times per week, but it isn't formal anymore.  This is the one area I am sad about.  I really see the value in at least piano.  Music appreciation comes in the form of listening - the van is a great place for composer CDs, especially the Classical Kids CDs because they create interest.  The books are good at Morning Time worked in on occasion and then I hit Goodwill for CDs that we play at random.

 

Nature Study is my strength.  We spend a crazy amount of time outside and live near a nature trail as well.  We put up bird houses, bird feeders, planted perennial gardens with butterfly and hummingbird flowers.  We have a huge garden and have been planting many trees.  I suggest that if you own your home, you simply invest in your yard first and foremost.  Read the Burgess books as part of your Morning Time, or, if you have the time, on a blanket outside in the afternoon! :)  Catch tadpoles, raise caterpillars, plant your yard to wonderful things.

 

I do not read aloud to the various ages.  I target various ages, but generally, all kids are present except for morning time.  High schoolers are now excused from that.  Evening readings will vary from young adult (appropriate) selections to last week we re-read Charlotte's Web.  (Who doesn't like E.B. White?)  It rotates.  I do not mark out separate times.

 

Sports - we no longer drive ourselves crazy.

 

HOWEVER, we did do Mock this year and we will do it again this coming year and the driving/commitment is more than soccer ever was.  However, we've reserved this until high school and I'm so grateful that DS has his license this year!

 

Shakespeare is a read aloud for youngers (Lambs Tales) and assigned reading for high school students during the Medieval history year - Year 2.

 

The important thing to realize is that these are ALL good things, but they don't have to all be stuffed into one year.

I am very (pleasantly) surprised at what Ana (oldest DD) remembers of her homeschooling years and how much we fit in - but it was over the course of K-12, not each year.  

I would suggest taking a long range view of homeschooling.  It will help you to not go crazy. :)

 

Do you realize that picture study was often just one artist/composer per term?  So that's like 3 (give or take) a year?  Toss these things in with that memory box and just "visit" it - not stay for a long while.

Half of our stress is thinking that we must THOROUGHLY teach every facet.  No.  Nope.  Uh uh.  It is enough to take ten minutes on one artist every week for six months.  Trust me, they'll learn.  I like SWB's "One new, two review" idea applied to history, science, language arts, etc.   Essentially when we sit down to Morning Basket, we'll review yesterday's lesson, just a couple things, then move onto the short new day teaching.  Do this each day and they'll quickly cover things.

 

Don't intend on "going deep" into everything.  You can do review in 5 minutes and then do 10 minutes of teaching.  That's enough for little kids (K to age 10) on science, history, language arts, etc.  

 

 

If I break it down into MUSTS, it goes like this:

 

 

In K-3/4 make sure your kid can READ, and read well.  Do not keep moving on.  If you do NOTHING except have him read 2 hours a day, have him read to you twenty minutes a day, and you read to him an hour, that's FINE.  Just make sure he/she can read, will read, and does read.  And read aloud - never ever stop reading aloud.  It will come back to benefit you when it's time to teach writing.

 

In grades 5-8, basic paragraph structure, more reading - deep and wide, keep reading aloud, and make sure their math computation (facts memorization) is down COLD and fast, assigned reading.  Keep reading aloud.

 

Because if the foundation is laid and it's firm, they can FLY when they hit ages 13/14 and they are ready to be go-getters.  Teach them to use a planner by 8th grade.  Continue to read aloud.  Daily math, daily language arts, assigned reading.

 

 

What does this look like in our day?

 

 

Morning Basket - together - littles, elementary, middle school kids

This is our read alouds (history, lit., science - multiple or in rotation and sometimes includes composers or artist picture books) This is also our Bible time and memory work time and sometimes poetry recitation. This is a minimum of an hour and sometimes two.  It's sometimes broken up (inside and outside) or with a break but most often straight with a diaper change in the middle, lol.

 

Table Time - copywork, math, grammar  - I'm hovering, helping, teaching, clarifying as needed.  This is an hour-ish.  I figure about 5 minutes of copywork or handwriting, about 20-25 minutes of math, and then a half hour of grammar.  I could be a little short here.

 

There is a little block here that science teaching (EFFICIENT and direct science teaching without over-teaching) can be slid in right here.  

 

Any independent work - assigned reading, additional copywork, writing assignments after a teaching/assignment.

 

A lot of this can be outside so that littles can run like baby wild things. :D

 

Lunch

This is a good space for another read aloud

Naptime (Read or Sleep)  - I like this to be free for me.  Sometimes I must teach - if I don't have time for Barton later, this is now.  If I need to work with writing and the 14yo or clarify a math/algebra concept with older kids, this is now.  But we work pretty hard for this to be 1.5-2 hours of quiet.

 

Afternoon - Barton and most of the kids are playing outside or inside except the one-on-one kiddo.

 

We go outside quite a lot throughout the day.  I'd love to say we have a set aside time for nature study, but no.  It's our life.  We garden, we watch birds at the feeder, we plant seeds in the evenings or on weekends, we go on the trail, etc.

 

Clean-Up / Laundry put away

Supper Prep

Supper

Family Time

Family Read Aloud

 

 

This was so helpful!!!

 

Thank you. 

I am going to come and read this every now and then.

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