We received our huge box of books from Geography Matters company last week with the complete year of Paths of Exploration curriculum. It was like Christmas around here! Books were divided into stacks and each stack was wrapped with tissue paper. That made it even more fun to open!
The entire box contains Jake's curriculum for next year except for math and a few add-on subjects/activities I'll be including. If you are unfamiliar with Trail Guide to Learning Paths series, they are a complete curriculum package (minus Math) that centers around U.S. History. All topics learned tie into the overarching theme of Exploration. So, his science, art, nature study, English, and, yes, history, will focus on exploration as part of U.S. History.
We plan to start using this curriculum in the Fall, however, I wanted to get my hands on it so I can peruse and begin planning now. Much to my surprise, though, the curriculum is already well laid out and organized into daily chunks. They've even thought of a built-in "catch up day" each week! So, my planning time has already been cut down considerably! LOVE THAT!
I chose this curriculum for Jake because of his style of learning and for his unique needs that have presented themselves as hindrances in typical learning environments. This curriculum is VERY hands-on and compliments the "learn by doing" style that Jake really needs.
We've never used a "boxed" curriculum but I hesitate to call Paths of Exploration that because, in reading over the teacher's guide, it is extremely flexible, it seems, in letting me add or subtract in whatever way I deem fit. One of the first sentences in the teacher's guide stuck with me and seems to be the "motto" for this company's curriculum. The preface says, "...this curriculum is your servant not your master." Wow! Why hadn't I heard that before?? So, did the whole thing come in a box?? Well, yes. Did someone spend countless hours pulling together this curriculum to cohesively blend and flow? Yes and for the first time, the pressure for me to do that is off (well, I still have to do it for my other son going into 8th grade).
The curriculum is set in a Biblical worldview and instead of all core subjects being separate, categorized topics, they cohesively tie together. I'm nervous and excited about that! Nervous because for the past 4 years, I've taken a "school at home" approach to our home school but, honestly, that isn't totally working. I mean we took the boys out of the public school structure for a reason - it wasn't working. So, should I be totally surprised that the same format isn't quite cutting it for us at home?? Thus, a different approach to education; one that reminds me of my days in GATE and AP classes with more hands-on learning, creativity and challenging ways to approach a subject other than cracking open a textbook and reading or whipping out a workbook. Out of insecurity and fear, I copied what I knew best and was familiar with but that doesn't make it the best route. As we approach the end of our fourth year homeschooling, I am growing in this area and have more confidence to shed the textbooks and workbooks (not that they are bad things but they should dominate education) and try something new! So, I am committing to thinking outside of the box when it comes to education and I believe this curriculum is the first-step in that direction! I couldn't be more excited about that!
Time will tell on how well this curriculum works for our family, though, since we won't begin for several months. I'm hopefully optimistic that this will fit my child's learning style flawlessly and I am encouraged that the planning has been done for me in a thoughtful, tied-in kind of way! I love, love, love the large amounts of creative, hands-on activities built into the curriculum too!
Follow me as I travel this path in discovering a new way to home school with a new type of curriculum!