This past year I was blessed to be a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Review Crew. That was a fun adventure! I’m excited to join the Crew for a second year because there are lots of fun products on the schedule which starts in January!
I’ve learned several things through my experience with the Crew:
I’m more flexible than I thought I was
Each time I get a new package in the mail, it’s excitement at our house. Who doesn’t love receiving packages? Free curicula? Sign me up! However, you actually do have to use that stuff. I have to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming and throw some new things in the mix. This requires some planning ahead, reading the instructions, trying it out, and revamping when necessary. And for someone who is as unflexible as I am, this can be a really hard thing. But I did it! I tried lots of new things, adding several new things into our schedule throughout the year (often putting our regular programs on hold for several weeks or more). And guess what? We all survived the spur of the moment changes and sometimes even enjoyed the change in our regular routine. I can be flexible. Good thing I only write in my planner with a pencil!
Variety can be a good thing
Trying out new products is exciting. While I do choose a main program for each subject, it’s nice to have a supplement here and there to break things up and change the pace of our daily schedule. The Crew products were often that much needed break from our main programs. These products were often great supplements for using alongside what we already love. I like supplementing! I learned that I don’t like to stick to only one program day in and day out. I like having several products for each subject-one main program and a few others on the side. Sometimes we might need a day off from our main program and that’s when the supplements come in handy. And for some subjects, I schedule one program for two days a week and the other program for the rest of the week. We like variety at our house!
It’s okay to change curricula
Sometimes I found programs that I really really enjoyed. And I let myself use those as my main program. At times, my Crew products would outshine our current ones and become our spine program with our old programs for backup. And that’s ok. I can change things and work to find what fits. Sometimes it can take years to find exactly what fits for your family and at other times, your needs change so you need to be able to adapt. I can try new things and I might even love them!
I know my kids best
I love using all the new programs! But sometimes there is a program that I really don’t like, or that my kids really don’t like, or that is just too confusing, too complicated, too difficult, too easy, or too frustrating. What do you do when you don’t like something? The requirement is to use the program for at least 6 weeks, and then what? Give up? Put it away? Yes, I had to do just that. I learned to give myself permission to stop. When something isn’t working, it’s time to find something new that is or go back to what was working. I know my kids best. I know best what programs are working and which ones are not. And when I decide that a curricula doesn’t fit our family, I can put it away and move on. Trying all the wonderful curricula options was a fun endeavor, but no matter if I’m the only Crew member who doesn’t enjoy the product, I have the confidence to say, “I know my kids; I know what works, and this isn’t it.” And when I know what doesn’t work, it’s much easier to shop for things that do.
The Crew is fun, yet challenging. But as my first year comes to a close, I have the confidence to make changes and I’m more confident in choosing curricula that works for our family. I’ve learned a lot about different curricula but I’ve learned more about myself – my teaching style, my planning style, and what type of curricula prep I enjoy. I’ve learned just as much about my children – their learning styles, what they enjoy, what subjects are their favorites, and what holds their attention.