How do you know when enough is enough? Particularly with writing and history, how can you make sure you are not asking too much and frustrating yourself and your children? Sometimes it can be so hard to tell. It can be VERY difficult to make sure you aren't expecting too much! Here are some ideas to consider if you think you may be overworking your children.
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If you feel like you MUST supplement, then the simple solution is to remove something else from the curriculum that might take about the same amount of time. In other words, remove as much as you add.
Remember, in public high schools, no one completes ALL of the curriculum. In other words, if the book lists four hands-on projects, they may only do one - or none of them. Public school curriculum contains a lot of suggestions that may never be used by any teacher.
It is important not to double up on your curriculum. Are you? Doing too much is a major cause for homeschool burnout. Sure, we want to produce well-educated kids, but doing a double amount of a subject may not be the answer. Twice as much information can mean twice as much burnout with half as much education!
Here is a typical question I hear: "I ordered the grammar curriculum from Abeka during the homeschool conference this year before speaking with you. Should I eliminate that if we are using The Latin Road to English Grammar?" The clear answer is YES! Please, please, please eliminate Abeka grammar while you are using Latin Road! The Latin Road is a complete grammar program, and it has all the grammar that you need. It will supplement your reading and writing perfectly, serving two purposes at the same time, with both English and Foreign Language. One of the biggest problems I see from homeschoolers is doubling up on subjects like English. Using The Latin Road for English Grammar PLUS another grammar curriculum would be giving your kids two grammar programs. It may be "fun" for some kids, but for most children doing double duty can cause burnout and even rebellion.
If you aren't using a curriculum, but you are pulling together pieces yourself, then strive for only one hour or less for history each day and one hour or less of English each day (reading books may take longer, but the writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. - that stuff keep to just one hour or less).
If you do end up using two completely unique, completely credit-measured classes, then I would feel comfortable calling it two separate credits. For example, one year I did Sonlight Language Arts PLUS we did Learn to Write the Novel Way, so we did have two English credits that year. (We also nearly died trying, but that's another story.... and the primary reason I DO NOT recommend doubling up that way! We were doing too much!) Another year we did Power-Glide French AND Latin Road for foreign language. So I knew that was two credits. I wish I had The HomeScholar back then to give me some advice.
If you are not using two whole credit curricula, then I suggest you assume it's like a math textbook, and that it's just taking longer with more resources to teach your children. When I taught math, I used Saxon, but I added the DIVE CDs, some math games, and some of The Great Courses college lectures. All together it took perhaps 2-1/2 hours a day (lots of problems in those upper level Saxon books - plus my son took FOREVER on them). Still, it was just one credit. So if you are pulling together things from pieces, I would consider each subject to be its own single credit.
I say all of this because one of the most common issues I see with homeschoolers is that neither they, nor their students, are getting the rest and break they need from academics. Remember, as you think about the future, there are many good things you will need to say "no" to - and it's really hard to do that! It's like saying "no" to chocolate chip cookies when you are saying "no" to awesome curriculum or opportunities. But you literally can't do it all, and it could seem like you might die trying.
So instead, choose peace. That's what I (eventually) did in my homeschool, and I'm glad for it. Now that the kids are grown, I'm so thankful I made those hard decisions in high school to keep school to a reasonable number of hours, so they could have the free and unstructured time that they needed - and I needed, too.
You know what lasts? Relationships - not Latin or grammar or doubling up on something for their own good. Yes, homeschooling is challenging, but at the same time it shouldn't be "kill me now!" hard. You know what I mean? I guess it's just like the perfect curriculum for kids is challenging - not overwhelming - and the perfect sweet spot for homeschooling is challenging but not overwhelming for parents, too!
I was the kind of person who overloaded a child at homeschool. But my mistake was pointed out to me in time. There is no point in trying to include everything in the schedule if it can't be memorized. It's better to select the material more carefully and do everything gradually. But this was my first experience with homeschooling and I was full of enthusiasm and didn't notice that I was stressing my child out.
Thank you so much for sharing honestly about your experience. It can be hard to ease up when we're excited about the curriculum! Sounds like you did a wonderful job adjusting for what your child needed.
Jennifer, assistant to Lee