As the mid year break approaches, one of the things that I do is re-evaluate how my goals for the year are going and if our direction is headed to where I want to end. For me, this goal and vision is one of the hardest parts of my job as a teacher. I'm not one to just pick a set of textbooks and follow that for 12 years. Learning is so much more than that! However, because that's my view and choice, I've made things harder for myself. Of course I have...I excel at choosing the hardest option!
Up until now, we've followed a fairly loosey-goosey science plan. It mostly involves lots of reading, lots of exposure, and learning to enjoy asking "why" and finding out the answer. A year and a half ago, I added in mandatory Apologia Elementary readings for the oldest two in addition to the topic that we were focusing on. I figured we were on the Apologia track, and that's where we would be headed. This year, I made a huge plan for studying physics- complete with a custom schedule of living books, spines, biographies, and a huge number of experiments. After all, this is middle school, so I wanted to ramp up quite a bit. While this went very well, and #1 and #2 were enjoying themselves and learning quite a bit, I started to question if I was on the right path. To further push me, the oldest daughter (who is very easy going, and tolerates pretty much anything) tells me that she just can't stand Apologia's "chattiness" in their texts. This is a complaint that others have made, but I honestly didn't think that it would be an issue for us.
This, of course, led to a few weeks of research figuring out my options on where I wanted to end up, and what the best way to get there is. This led to a mid-year change (something that I normally would not do at all to BJU Life Science.
We chose BJU because BJU is known for it's rigorous high school science curriculum. While we may not have future scientists, we do want to give our children every opportunity, and not give them a disadvantage by using a lighter curriculum. We chose to start now instead of waiting until high school because of the value of learning the skills needed now instead of when their workload is so much higher.
The first week was a big learning curve for all of us. The children are having to learn how to read a textbook and be able to pick out important information, how to study, how to outline, how to read a test carefully and answer the questions. I'm having to ramp up my lecturing in a subject that I haven't had to in the past, which also leads to restructuring our day. My goal is that they learn these skills needed for the rest of their science careers, not necessarily that they ace Life Science in 7th grade. They both badly failed the first test, which I thought was really good for all of us. It gave them a good wake up call that this really was going to be as tough as I said it would be.
Like many other choices that we have made in the past, I feel that choosing the harder road now will pay off in the future.