So we have changed, or maybe change is too radical a word. What we are doing would probably be better described as "tweaking". I noticed at the end of last year/beginning of this school year that we were getting a little too wrapped up in worksheets, curriculum, activities, field trips and outside classes. This just wasn't working for any of us. Maybe we are just a family of wanna be hermits.
I think the only way to evaluate a curriculum or routine is based on how it fits in to my reasons for homeschooling. I also expect that as our circumstances change from year to year, what fits best into our lives will likewise change. Obviously, what we were doing was a square peg in a round hole.
I don't want to be rushed running from class or activity to activity and neither do the kids. We need the slower pace of life. Natural learning is the type that engages my children the best. Especially because both of my girls are "think outside the box" girls. Natural learning is what happens when I set up a learning center and they are able to use their natural curiosity to explore in depth, probe an idea and to ask questions. This requires more time from me as the teacher than cracking open a book and we need long periods of time without a bunch of activities breathing down our neck to allow the kids to relax and explore.
Another huge plus to homeschooling is the opportunity for a "whole" education. One that involves life skills and critical thinking. I didn't want anyone taking my children and "standardizing" them. Maintaining the closeness of our family, respecting the unique individual each child is, and deepening our family bond is probably my most important goal. None of the jives with a "go-go" lifestyle. It just isn't us.
I realized that I was potentially squandering an opportunity. During these elementary years I have the opportunity to do more child-led learning. We aren't in the high stakes game of high school. We don't have children with jobs, and college prep classes, volunteer work, etc. those things that come with young adulthood. All of that will come in time, I probably can't fight it off even if I wanted to (and I don't). So there is no sense in squandering this opportunity I have now. For now, I can watch the wonder, have the family meals every night, jump on every opportunity to chatter aimlessly with my babies while they are still all mine. Because soon enough they will be young adults with their own lives.
So we have embraced KONOS curriculum again. It has a unit study approach and we move through it at our own pace. If the kids want to linger on a topic, we linger. If they want to move on, we move through it. What I once found overwhelming, is a blessing now. Maybe it is because our house is stocked with more craft goods than an entire preschool could burn through in a year. Or it might be the dynamic of having three children to homeschool instead of just one. Either way, it seems to be the perfect fit for us right now. The kids are having a BALL.