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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Curriculum Nomads

Nomads are:
  1. Desert wanderers
  2. Those who follow their food supply
  3. Desperate

I giggled as I filled in the answer.

This month in our morning prayer groups we're praying for the Fulbe nomadic peoples. One of the themes that keeps surfacing is the cost of a nomadic lifestyle. Nomads miss out on certain stabilities and benefits of a consistent home. In fact, one of the main prayer points a few days ago was for God to send missionaries willing to live a nomadic lifestyle as they join the Fulbe.

Homeschool culture appears to be shifting toward a nomadic lifestyle. Families, looking for greener grass elsewhere, abandon their current curriculum. Some never return to the lush richness of something they loved. They wander instead.

How much, I wonder, do we lose when we leave the wonderful thing we have?

Just to be painfully clear: If your current program isn't working, find one that does. Yes, even Sonlight may not be the best choice for your family. And I'm absolutely in favor of you switching from something you don't love to Sonlight <smile>. There is nothing wrong with finding the program that is right for your family. But as more and more curriculum options are born, I'm noticing curriculum nomads head out into the desert in a desperate search for the perfect program.

Have you switched homeschool programs? How has the change been? If you've switched away from Sonlight, did you/do you love your new curriculum?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Karen Joy said...

Luke, apart from my oldest son's K year, we have schooled with Sonlight for our entire homeschool experience of nine years. The more I am comfortable with homeschooling, the more free I feel to switch stuff up to make it more suited to our needs: we do a different Bible-reading schedule, do a different English program, etc. But, the core of our program has always been Sonlight.

One of the reasons that I do NOT go to homeschool conventions is that I know my own tendency to think that the grass is greener elsewhere. Perhaps it is... But, I think not. SL is a great fit for us, and has worked well.

I used to have a love/hate relationship with curriculum choices, stressing out whether or not my choices were right. And, while I think that we parents can make detrimental decisions, the great thing about homeschooling is that we also have the opportunity to correct/change when the need arises.

American culture, because we're so consumer-oriented, is very nomadic. Churches experience the same thing. And, just when you get to know your neighbor, they move. Even families no longer feel the pull to be located in the same area. And stuff like "the family farm" are practically non-existent. We're nomads in almost every sense of the word. I think the root is in basic malcontentment, but I guess that's another topic altogether.

Yara said...

I've switched up our homeschool curriculum. More than once. I've always switched from public charters... used one thinking it would be easier while I was pregnant & had a newborn; that was the worst mistake I ever made. I dropped them after a semester.
I went to another charter & it was good, until they kept changing our education specialist. The third change was the last straw, and rather than subject my kids (at this point both older girls were in school) to another new person, I decided to go it alone.
Next year we officially begin Sonlight & I am beyond excited.
(for now we are finishing up the textbooks we already had; they are all used with Sonlight anyway; but I wish I'd had a Core this year to follow)
I'm hoping we can just stay with Sonlight through graduation with all 3 kids, now.
I guess I'll be around the next 16 years or so!

Cheri said...

This is only our 2nd year homeschooling. I pulled my daughter out at the end of 3rd grade and my son out at the end of pre-k. I spent about 2 years researching it before this and was excited to plan my own curriculum. I remember ordering a Sonlight catalog and took one look at the cost and thought that I could do it much cheaper. Fast forward to this time last year. I was so burned out and stressed over the constant planning and worrying if I was doing enough. Well, the 2010 Sonlight catalog came in the mail and I really looked it over this time. My husband and I both felt like this was for us. The funny thing is the cost wasn't that bad when I thought about how much of my time was being sucked up in the planning. Well, we are thrilled with Sonlight!! I am not burned out and we're always excited about what we're doing next. Sure, I've tweaked it to fit our family but that's what I love about Sonlight- you encourage that.
One other thing, after reading your post last night I went over to the post that your mom did about how she chooses books for Sonlight. It just cements the fact that this is honestly the highest quality curriculum for us! Just the books alone have enriched us so much. Thanks!!

Heather the Mama Duk said...

We switched away from Sonlight because it just wasn't working for us. I tried piecing my own thing together, but that just gets overwhelming after a while for me. Now we are using Calvert School and it's absolutely fabulous! The switch from reading books and talking about it orally to very academic has been painful, but it has been totally worth it. Both of my former Sonlight kids are absolutely thriving as Calvert kids and learning so much. It's been fabulous so far for my third as well (fourth won't start Calvert until the fall).

Ironically, we started with Calvert. The cost is high and, thankfully, the cost is not an issue now, but it was then. In a way I wish we hadn't becoming curriculum nomads (we did our own thing for a year and then we did Sonlight for three before going back to Calvert). But I am also glad we did. While the adjustment back to a very academic program has not been easy, we know without a doubt what does and doesn't work for these kids of mine.

Luke Holzmann said...

"American culture, because we're so consumer-oriented, is very nomadic." Yeah. It certainly looks that way to me too, Karen.

Yara, may Sonlight be a great fit for you and your family... for many years to come <smile>.

Thank you, Cheri! It is always so encouraging to hear these kinds of things <smile>.

Heather, thanks for sharing your story. I know your kids have been thriving with Calvert and that is great to hear! May you be able to stick with them and gain the benefits of "settling down" into a program.

...granted, if something changed in the years to come and Sonlight was a perfect fit for your family then, I wouldn't mind you using Sonlight again <smile>.


mary grace said...

You inspired a blog post. :-)

Luke Holzmann said...



Charlotte in MN said...

I must not be much of a nomad. We hit on Sonlight my oldest daughter's Kindergarten year (she is now 15). That glorious year gave us the drive we would need to persevere through the tough road in teaching my dyslexic daughter to read. Sonlight allowed her to learn a lot without needing to be able to read it herself. It wasn't a perfect fit for my younger daughter, but because of Sonlight her vocabulary is much larger than it ever would have been any other way. Believe me, there isn't a curriculum designed that would be a perfect fit for that child. I have switched math programs because of tears and struggles, but that has never been an issue with Sonlight. As I watch my 15yo writing a book, I realize that her love of reading and learning has come from all those hours that I read the Sonlight curriculum to her. Even more than my kids, SL has been the right fit for me. I have loved what I have learned.

Luke Holzmann said...

Thanks for sharing, Charlotte!



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Luke Holzmann
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