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Anyone struggle with creativity overkill?


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Hello everyone. I'll tell you what's happening and hopefully you can make some suggestions.

In a nutshell: With regard to homeschooling...



  • I feel scattered.
  • I feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities of methods, curricula, supplements, choices, choices, choices....
  • I feel constantly pulled between liking the creativity of not adhering to a curriculum guide and missing the structure of knowing how much we are actually accomplishing.

For the first 12 weeks, in the fall, we used Sonlight for older DD, age 10 and Abeka for DS, age 7. We abandoned Abeka in the first month except for the Language Arts workbooks, which I still like.


For the second 12 weeks I decided to do more of a WTM format for all except the preschooler , who was/is still freewheelin' it. That was so that DS could also be more involved in history and science. I also incorporated art and music.


So now I'm looking back and I'm thinking that the first 12 weeks I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of work in Sonlight for DD and was neglecting the other two. I wasn't doing nearly all the things I wanted to do with them.


I'm also now looking back at the second 12 weeks, which we are finishing, and thinking that I am still overwhelmed, just in a different way because of all the possibilities. I feel like a hamster in a plastic ball, just running running running, bumping into walls, running some more, bumping...and not really getting anywhere.



I was thinking that it shoudln't be "too hard" to follow the structure of WTM. In fact, that "should" be easier not having to adhere to someone else's detailed plans for every week. But then...I'm the one who has to choose the books and materials, plan the crafts, peruse the supplemental library books, decide which topics to do for lapbooks, notebooking, which videos, etc. etc.


Creativity is both a blessing and a curse.


So I'm thinking to myself..."Self, this is absurd."

I've been thinking about switching to Tapestry of Grace since it will give me a guide for all three children, and freedom to do or not do.


For those who tend to be more on the creative end of the spectrum...who see about 15 different possibilities jumping out at you in a neverending stream of ideas....who feel themselves spinning out of control and unable to make a simple choice of "What do we accomplish TODAY, RIGHT NOW?"... and suffer from saying "no" to all the other ideas by choosing one....who typically prefer to do it yourself because you know you can do it better if you could only get your act together and finish just one of those fantastic ideas.....


If that describes you, please tell me what has worked for you and what you have accepted as NOT working for you.


Thank you so much!!



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I like open & go core subjects: math, English and writing. This leaves me feeling good about a consistent review and incremental learning that is age appropriate and challenging but not frustrating.


I dislike structured/scheduled history, science, & other additional studies. I do schedule them but in a way that works for us which is highly flexible. We use spines (core books/texts) and add United Streaming & Netflix DVD's, AO, SL or other books. I like to dip in & out of different things so there is less boredom (MusicAce, sheppardsoftware for geography, flash cards, memory work, etc.) for sometimes a few weeks or a quarter at a time.

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Wouldn't it help if you were to think about your criteria in choosing a program? If you know you don't want workbooks for maths, that discounts a lot of choices straight away. If you want something scripted for security (you can always ignore the script when you get more comfortable) then choose something scripted. If you want something where you can combine the kids, a living books approach might be best. If there is extra cool stuff you really want but isn't suitable for inclusion in your curriculum for some reason, you can buy it for them for Christmas.

Maybe it's not that easy? I've been accused of being too definite; decision making has never been difficult for me...



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I am similar. Sometimes I am all over the board, sometimes I am a box-checker! Finally, this year some things clicked and I have found a method I can live with. For math, reading and writing skills, we use curriculum that is open and do the next assignment. If a fun tangent should present itself, we can take it up 1) if there is time or 2) at a later time. I don't sweat this stuff because I am committed to doing the next thing every school day.


Now, history and literature are my darling subjects! I want to do it all. I got very frustrated with everything I tried because I wanted to add more or I didn't really want to do the things someone else had suggested in their TM that I spent too much money on...., so I have to do it myself, but that's okay because these are my pet subjects. So I take SOTW and I list it out by chapters and then I go and add in all the materials that I've seen and liked and purchased or loaned from the library. I add those to the appropriate chapter. Then when we hit those subjects I take out all that stuff and request what we need and then we just spend as much time parked in that time as we want. If a book flops, it flops. If I can't get something in time, it goes into the book basket when it becomes available later. This allows me to not feel like we are missing out on things that we might like and also to roll with reality. I can check off the resources we used, cross out what didn't work and move on satisfied.


Here's an example:


SOTW 3, Chapter 22

3-D Maps, pages 46-53

An American Story, pages 42-64

Places in Time, pages 18-20

OIS, Chapter 95

Pilgrims and Patriots, Unit 6

Light and Glory, Chapters 11 & 12

Johnny Tremain, Read-Aloud

Liberty’s Kids, DVD

Liberty, How the REvolutionary War Began

Phoebe the Spy

George Vs. George

Liberty or Death (1763-1783)

3-D Maps, pages 46-53

SOTW 3, Chapter 23

George Washington (Harness & Giblin)

Places in Time, pages 20-23

Pioneers and Patriots, Unit 6

MTH Revolutionary War on Wednesday

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?

Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution

Fourth of July


I have all these resources available for this unit. Maybe we will spend a month on the American Revolution and use most of this. Maybe we will peter out after a week and only use a bit, but I know what is available to me and can adjust to fit our time and interests. Of course, many of the SOTW chapters have nothing but the chapter and mapwork! This gives me free rein to "use it all" without having to actually use it all or follow a prescribed schedule.


Science education is a priority for my husband and the passion of my oldest. We use curriculum that is "do the next thing" and I let him spend his time following his rabbit trails. I think he gets more out of the independent work he does, but I can faithfully say that we completed this and that curriculum this year. Everyone is happy.


I hope this helps or maybe it just makes me look crazy. From one formally overwhelmed mother to another...

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You are not alone. I feel scattered too! I have been considering TOG for the same reasons! After thinking and rethinking until my head feels like it will explode, I have decided to sit down and write out some goals just like I did when I was first homeschooling. I'm asking myself what is truly important and what would be nice but isn't that crucial.


One thing we've done this year is to limit outside activities. I've discovered there are very few field trips that can't be done as a family. We learn more that way and aren't as stressed. It also builds family memories. Having close family relationships is important to us.


I am thinking about the idea of using structured curricula for core subjects and doing my own thing for history and science. I suspect we might learn more that way too. I think I just need to relax a little more about not getting done all the creative ideas I dream up. My kids were sick of Egypt way before I ran out of ideas--I had to scrap a lot of them!


I just have the feeling if I buy Tapestry I'll end up trying to do both Tapestry and my own ideas - - that's what I seem to do with everything I use for curriculum. A real recipe for burnout! Even though Tapestry looks great, in a way all the guidance on discussions (and the discussions are great) sort of bothers me. Today I started thinking about all the students who have had the exact same discussions because thats what the guide told their parents to discuss. Possibly we are missing out on truly tailoring our homeschooling to our own children and families. Please don't think I'm slamming TOG because I really like what I see, and we may use it too. I just think maybe we are all looking for some ideal when we should really just be reading and dicsussing with our children in a way that is unique to our own situations.


I'm still sorting through my goals to try to match what I do to fit. I've been reading the beginning chapters of Cathy Duffy's guide for junior and senior high which does a pretty good job of making you think through goals and approaches. I am scheduling a break within the next few week so I can have some down time and evaluate just what our schooling should look like for the remainder of this year and next year, too. Is it possible that a break and evaluating goals would help you?


Here's a suggestion I might try. If you are really thinking Tapestry would solve the problems you are experiencing, print out their sample units and set a trial period where you will do nothing of your own design. Just follow the Tapestry plans. See if it truly helps and if it solves the problems. Borrow the books from friends, or the library if you can.


Several posters here have said they do only the core assignments, which helps to keep TOG from being overwhelming. You could do this during your trial period, and then add creative assignments when you feel ready, while keeping a close watch for those feelings of being scattered and overwhelmed .




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You need to figure out what your priorities are and why you are feeling overwhelmed and scattered.


First, I have a migraine and my youngest is dancing across the room I'm in so take all of this as coming from a well-meaning mom with a headache.


Ask yourself some questions -

Why are you homeschooling?

Why did you choose sonlight to start with?

Besides being too much - what didn't work about sonlight? would it work better now that you have some experience? could you use the basic structure and let it be more unstructured? What subjects worked in sonlight, and what didn't?

What worked during the past 12 weeks? Specifically, what subjects did you go a "good job" with? What subjects didn't work?


What subjects are most important to you for each student? Are they making progress in those subjects?


Right now, for my kids, Reading, Writing, and Math are the most important. I make sure that we are making steady progress in those subjects. I am very relaxed about history, science and everything else. We are covering the Middle Ages in history this year, I have some great literature that we read through on a very loose schedule; we are loosely doing some craft projects; we are tucking in historical fiction when we find a topic that interests more; and we are steadily reading through SOTW2. For science, I planned out a short earth science unit, but other than that we simply focus on whatever interests the kids.


After several years, I have found a balance between structured and unstructured that works for me, but everyone's balance is different. And throwing more money at your scheduling and philosophical issues won't solve them.


If you are interested in TOG, get the 3-week free sample and follow it. But switching to TOG is something that is probably best examined during the summer or between sessions. It is a great product, but it has a learning curve .


Good luck. I am certain you will find a balance that doesn't leave you feeling suffocated or scattered.

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Thanks everyone. I think I've id'd that I need to stay with "open and go" for the basics so I can at least know that I'm covering them...so that limits my frustration to just the "extras" that are still important like history, science, art and music, etc.


I've made goals and prioritized them, but it seems that the process needs to repeat itself fairly often. I guess that is just part of it.


I'll have to think more and go back to the drawing board and sort-of reconstruct how I look at these "problem" subjects.


What I lack is a basis for making such decisions of how to go about studying these subjects. IOW: Why would I insert a craft here or a lapbook there... Why read this book over that one....or cover this aspect with a movie or other medium....choose a unit study format or do a quick read-through with discussion...

I'm just picking and choosing at random out of what seems like millions of possibilities.


And like someone already said, if I had a guide in front of me, I would probably still want to tweak it.


I can see how going back and re-evaluating my goals will probably help because if my goal is to have them nail in some "pegs" then memorizing some facts will be important, whereas a general survey will involve different activities and getting a deeper grasp on certain things would involve entirely other things..and so on.


So, I guess I know what I'll be doing over our upcoming spring break..again. :001_rolleyes:

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We got very little done when I tried to do the planning and pulling ideas together myself. I've slowing gone to more curriculum which has worked very well for us. However, I HATE all-in-one curriculla that tell me what to do one what day for each subject.


I keep it simple for LA and math. I use a spine for history and science. Then I add library books to the history and science. From there, I can add in creative stuff (projects, experiments, crafts, notebooking, lapbooks, etc.) when I feel like we have the time, energy, money for supplies, interest, etc. If we get behind, I can easily stick to the spine and drop everything else on less interesting chapters to catch up. The other thing I do when we get behind, usually in science and history, is start our day with those subjects to be sure we get them done.

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You know, this makes me wonder if there is a minimal body of knowledge students are expected to have in history and science by the time they reach high school or beyond. It's easier for me to know what they need in math, language arts and handwriting. But for things where there are unlimited amounts of knowledge it's harder to come up with a goal. I know my education in both of those subjects (history and sci) were pathetic and yet I managed a Master's Degree, so it's hard to formulate just what to do with my own children beyond simply enjoying learning.


But then I don't want them to arrive at the later grades and be behind their peers from my relaxed approach.


I think *this* may be the key to why I have trouble setting goals for these subjects....ARE there goals?? :001_huh:

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It is difficult to come up with a list of goals for history and science, but you have to look at all of the approaches that are available and then decide what fits. In order to know what fits I think you have to look at your general goals for homeschooling and your beliefs about what your approach to instruction should be and then match up your curriculum (or design your own).


For example if in the lower grades you are aiming to give the big picture of history, you wouldn't want to get bogged down in forcing lots of memorization of dates.


For us, creativity rates high in our goals. We do some memorization, but nowhere near as much as a program like Classical Conversations. It doesn't fit with many of our goals. There are a lot of great things about Classical Conversations, but we have limited time and want to spend time on the approaches that most reflect our beliefs and goals for education and family relationships. (I'm not picking on CC--it just came to mind. It works very well for some)


I think it really helps to remind yourself what your ultimate aims were when you started homeschooling, see if they've changed, or if you've gotten off track. It's easy to get lost in all the choices that are out there now.



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Shannon, interesting that you mention CC. I was just looking at their site and was invited by a friend to attend one of their meetings to check it out. I'm curious to know how that didn't gel with your ideals of education...also would be curious to know what those values and goals are. I'm thinking that if we share some of the same views then I can save myself some time and not go to the meeting. ;)

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We were a Konos family for 3 years... lots of planning and lots of fun. The boys liked it and Mom liked it because the boys liked it. Then the stress of planning everything and the inability to not DO everything became too overwhelming. I had to sit myself down and with hubby's help give myself permission to not be supermom and superteacher and supernurse (I work part-time as well). It's OK to choose a curriculum that I, as the teacher, enjoy teaching... the kids will catch the attitude.


We then moved to Sonlight for a needed break in planning. well, that was too much of a change and lasted about 2months.


Now we are doing Winter Promise, and since it's only been 3 months, I am no expert. So far, it has a good mix. The scheduled is planned and activities are included. The activities are not as extensive as Konos, but the kids are happy.


As they say, "If Mamma's happy, everyone's happy" (something like that, anyway...) :001_smile:

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but, I don't have time (we are on our way out) to answer in depth. Also, I need to sit down and look at what my goals are more extensively.


Our main problem with CC was the extensive memorization, especially in the younger years. I don't want my 6 year old daughter spending all that time on memorizing when she could be riding my neighbors pony, reading aloud with me, cooking with me, painting with her father (who is a part time artist), training the dogs, etc. Some of the memorization was completely inappropriate and misguided in my opinion. Advanced math concepts should not be memorized by children who haven't even approached the stage of abstract thinking. To me, this seemed against the ideas in TWTM. We aren't against all memorization, but the question is just how much should a young child be required to memorize? I have read The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill. His early focus on academics lead to a break down (I'm not equating CC with breakdowns-- it's just a thought I have had about memorization and academic pressure in general).


Memorization does not equal education. I feel my efforts are better spent teaching how to think logically and evaluate ideas. Our family also has a problem with some of the things being memorized. While I am teaching some mythology, I am not having them memorize list of Gods. I would prefer to spend our time memorizing scripture.


I am also concerned that many of the memorization type programs out there are giving a false standard in education. No one can remember everything they learn. The brain just doesn't function that way. When I was shopping for pianos I knew everything there was to know - - which pianos were manufactured in the US which ones used to be quality but aren't anymore because they were bought by Japanese companies who are just using the former name of the US company, etc. Now I couldn't begin to tell you all the information I knew then. But, I could find it for you, and I have an idea of what is available.


I don't want to pressure my kids into memorizing a ten minute timeline (I think that's one of their goals?). And just because someone can recite that timeline, doesn't mean they can think logically and apply that knowledge. A child who can recite the alphabet song knows his or her ABCs, but that doesn't mean he or she can read, write, or spell.


As an artistic family we also had problems with some of the artwork being taught..we have ideas about what should be taught when based on our knowledge of art history. I won't get into it here, but basically it involves honoring God in artwork and teaching children to evluate art without just accepting someone else's idea of what art is.


All that being said...I still think you could do CC and adapt it to your own views and family lifestyle. It really comes down to how you use it. For us, it just would have amounted to too much adapting to justify the costs. The co-op activities looked good, but we are burned out on co-ops, and the ones we have participated in have not met with our standards for education, or behavior.


A co-op is only as good as the instructors and the people attending it. We had serious issues with bullying that were not taken seriously, I got tired of constantly being the one raising concerns and tired of subjecting my kids to mediocre lessons and bad behavior and examples. There were a few good experiences, but not enough to justify the time and effort we invested - - not to mention the emotional roller coaster of not knowing when my son would be targeted physically again and how I would handle it.


So, I would seriously investigate before joining. Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream and many homeschool events (at least in my area) are starting to show some of the same problems found in public schools.


This got really long and rambling - sorry. Hope this helps someone.



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Wow, that's ME!! I finally determined that I just needed to give up some of that creative power, and let go. I opted to go with BJU for Math/LA, just so I could be reigned in:) What I like about this option is that the TM still has some creative ideas, most of which we skip, but we can kind of add in as I feel the need for more creativity. For example, when the 6yo's reading assignment included making gingerbread cookies, I skipped that because - yuck - gingerbread cookies taste horrible! OTOH, when the 6yo had a poetry writing assignment, and the 8yo got excited and wanted to write a poem, I let her ditch English for the day, and write a poem instead. Great creative moment, and yet still reigned in by the confines of a program, kwim? Now, I'm starting to rethink this move to ALL BJU, LOL, but I will definitely keep Math, English, & Spelling. However, I can see some creative possibilities opening up if we choose our own reading books and handwriting/copywork...this could be a total disaster for me, but maybe it would be freeing and exciting, don't know. I do pick my own history & science. I loved Sonlight, but it was too overwhelming for me. I switched to SOTW and add in just a few SL titles - this works fantastic for me! Dh picked our science subject: chemistry, but then I picked the books we'd use. So far, so good! Beware the boredom that sets in around 12 weeks, though - even a great program seems boring and humdrum after you settle into going through the motions with it. I just have to look at how much my kids are learning and stop myself from getting sidetracked with my own boredom and discontent. This winter has been long and hard, and filled with this type of angst for me. But if I were to ignore all that, the schoolbooks we've been using are just FINE, and the kids are learning, so I just have to take a chillpill...LOL. Good luck finding your balance!!

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I remember reading some time ago that creative people will ALWAYS have more creative ideas than they will EVER be able to execute. Just accepting that as a simple fact was liberating to me.


Like one of the early posters on this thread, I do the core subjects (reading, writing, and math for us right now) on a do-the-next-thing basis so I can keep trudging along regardless of whether I'm in a creative/energetic mode or an overwhelmed/tired mode. As I have time and energy, I toss in the "extras." At this stage, with a toddler and a preschooler as well as a first-grader, I need some no-plan, no-fail stuff to ensure my first-grader is getting the basics.

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