When my daughter was in fall of the third grade, I knew we were going to homeschool in 4th grade. I was joyous that whole year I would get relief from the things that were hard for me about school – the rushed mornings, eating breakfast in the car, all the emails and activity at the school. On that last day attending school, I drove straight to an excellent local homeschool resource store, Excellence in Education, to get on with that future that awaited us.
In the first year of homeschooling, I felt a sense of accomplishment to get through each day. The kids seemed to be learning; they were getting all of their work done. Towards the end of that first year, I realized that there are subjects that we could cover that they would never get in a traditional school setting – we could just do it. We didn’t have to follow anyones curriculum map! If I thought the lesson was important, why would we not move forward? We tackled the Linean System of Classification of Living Things, nutrition, manners, and other eclectic subjects.
Year 2, since I now had more confidence, I planned the year before school began. I even coordinated with our homeschool day program to reinforce what they were learning in school. We covered such topics as earth science, astronomy, California history, and the Middle Ages. With California history, I discovered I had a definite passion for this period. We used a multipronged approach – a textbook, the Beautiful Feet History of California reading list, and various other resources. I realized how connected California’s history was to the history of Native Americans, US history, and technological improvements such as the transcontinental railroad, the telegraph, and the phone.
Year 3 was even more elaborate-the Renaissance, botany, ornithology, architecture, and US History. I would take year long curricula and condense them into 18-20 weeks. We were hitting the highlights, and moving fast.
Somewhere in there, I thought I would enjoy writing California history curriculum for homeschool families. I had navigated these waters in putting curriculum together for our family. Why not share the information with others? But — the planning, grading, and teaching that I did for our family was consuming my time, as it should. I came to realize in Year 3, that I was not going to be able to write as long as I was soley responsible for my own children’s education. My creativity would only flow one way – if I was teaching, I could not step back and write also.
It was in Year 3 I made the choice to put the kids back in school: I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I handle it? Why couldn’t I do it all? Other female (and male) writers homeschooled their kids and and got their work done; I had to accept that though I would like to be the hero and do it all, I was different. For me to do the job of curriculum writing, I needed to step back and spend some time alone to research, develop my writing, and to strengthen my writer’s voice.