Gourmet, Home Made, or Junk Homeschool?

My friend Cori and I were exchanging emails about how to prepare a schedule, what to get next, and how to orchestrate a schedule, book selection, “curriculum” choices to certain extent, when she started to think and write using the food metaphor. I replied to her borrowing from that metaphor as well and that inspired me to this post.

How is your homeschooling, gourmet, home made, or junkie?

Gourmet homeschooling takes the pressure off of you (at least for a while). As when you are presented with a gourmet meal, it is appealing, done by experts, and it has colors and flavors difficult to replicate from scratch. This could be equated to buying a qualitative curriculum you get out of a box, with all those wonderful books that smell of new, and the already whipped together lessons that weave everything nicely into a theme, or linear progression. Unless you are like one of those Iron Chefs, you won’t be able to pull a curriculum like this in an hour, you have to pay the money for it, my friend. And it has no guarantees that it will be fit your family. Eventually you don’t even know what’s in it, how it is done, and the crave for a comfort meal can soon arise if that’s your only diet. We may dream something which will require no or little preparation on our end, but sooner or later we have to put some thought into the direction our ship is going to sail, (but that’s another metaphor…)

You can guess what I’m going to say about a homeschooling that is mainly like junk food. It’s mainly eaten in the car, you don’t prepare it either, here the nutritious value is not present, you haven’t cooked it, you don’t know what’s in it or it’s mainly bad for you. That’s to me what happens when you have your children doing so many activities, that they end up spending most of the day in the car, and though there are lovely audio books and things you can play in the car, learning like this is limited. There is another way of having a junk style homeschool at home. That’s when you are busy, non intentional, and do not spend any time with your children but let them open the refrigerator or pantry and feed themselves whatever they can get. Some of this won’t kill you, but if that’s your main way of nurturing your family there will be consequences to this style. It may seem cheap, but it’ll give you problems in the long run.

The last method is the one I’d like to say we ascribe too, but not entirely. Pure home-made would be something that you concoct from scratch, preferentially organic, where you know what you are adding to the pot and you think about it to be nutritious and healthy. The equivalent is when you take full charge of the curriculum, internet resources, and even if you buy things it’s when you tweak them to perfectly cater your children. I think we follow a semi home-made style if not a pure home made style, for cooking AND for homeschooling. We may start with something already planned or thought out by another, and we change, add, take away, until we get to our personal combination. This isn’t easy but it’s what works best.

In two weeks from now I’ll start deciding on our schedule and the things we’ll be doing next. I know being intentional is one of them, but I’ll get the books out of the shelves and in our box, and I’ll set up some open goals. I’ll also give more thought to our weekly schedules. I want to have a flexible schedule but something to commit to that facilitates consistency but leaves space for spontaneous learning.

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11 comments on “Gourmet, Home Made, or Junk Homeschool?

  1. The junk food looks so good, but after I partake, I don't feel so very well. The gourmet food is a wonderful concoction that someone finds supreme; it much time, cost and effort to contrive…but they never asked me what I really wanted. The homemade may not look as sweet, nor be as luxurious…but it's from my own sweat and tears. From my own prayers and night thoughts, from hours of brainstorming and research. It fits me. It fits my kids.
    I go for the wholesome, homegrown homemade too!

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  2. LOL, Pam, you always have thoughtful comments, I like how you describe homemade, yes, I'm glad there's homemakers out there, it's such an important and undervalued job. The gourmet chef gets the compliments, the junk food seller the 'fast smiles', but the home cook gets the tears and the HUGS.

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  3. This is really good Silvia. A much broader picture than I could paint. =) My feeling is much more about the actual cooking. I *know* how to cook, I'm a pretty good cook, and I can wing it without a recipe too. BUT, having a big fancy meal to prepare with many ingredients and a big guest list is making me feel overwhelmed… I will write more on it for my blog. That overwhelmed, imperfect cook that I am. =)

    Thanks again for the great email exchange. All our ideas has me feeling better able to focus and plan.

    Hugs,
    Cori

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  4. Ah yes, the junk food is tempting but not so good for you. But in moderation it fills a need 😉 I always have to keep the junk food out of my house because I am weak!

    The gourmet program looks so “grass is greener” but I know it's not really my cup tea so can walk away after “ooing and ahing” for awhile.

    I actually think of a rigorous classical ed as gourmet. But when you get this fancy meal on your plate it doesn't look all that great-presentation is good but it's hard to stomach LOL

    The homemade offering may not have a lot of fancy ingredients (music theory, latin, logic, etc) but I know it's a healthy and no one is allergic LOL
    Thanks for a great post.

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  5. Thank you so much for this post. As a first-time homeschooler, I try my best to do simple home-made, but keep thinking to myself “gourmet has got to be better! Why else would people spend so much on it??” I need to learn to trust my instincts a little better and know I am filling them up with the good stuff!

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  6. I agree for the most part. I just have one thing to add. The second junk food option is working quite well for us (the metaphor of the kids pulling whatever they want out of the refridgerator or pantry.) But the books available to the children in our home are wholesome. The toys, for the most part, encourage creativity and offer so many learning opportunities. An afternoon playing with legos can go from building a house or train to learning the concepts of multiplication. Markers and an endless amount of paper can inspire a young author, even if she can't yet spell correctly. We use no curriculum, and I do not force my children to do anything education. I make no lesson plans. But I am intentional with my children. We play outside. We read, read, read. We play. They are free to pull anything out of the fridge or pantry that sparks their interest. My oldest is almost five. Our methods may change as they grow older. They may not. But for now, our junk food (blueberries, peaches, pecans, walnuts, whole grain bread) is mighty satisfying.

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  7. I'm sorry to be so wordy, but this morning has been a beautiful example of why I like to keep things unstructured. We do have a natural rythme to our days. The kids are usually awake by 8. I make breakfast, with or without the kids help depending on their interest. The kids might play with legos or the dollhouse. Dorothy, our daughter, might work on a story. Music is usually on. Right now we are liking Franz von Suppe (as seen recently on a Bugs Bunny cartoon.) After breakfast, about 9ish, we usually head downstairs to get dressed, brush teeth and hair, make beds, etc. Today was totally different. After breakfast, D wanted to compose music. We use a site, where kids can drag and drop notes (whole, half, quarter, eighth, etc) into the measure. She worked on that for awhile until she got it the way she wanted it. We printed it, took it to the piano, and she learned how to play it. So in a span of 45 minutes, we worked on fractions, notation, composition, and note placement on the keyboard. We didn't get downstairs to “begin our day” until about 10:30. Would this have happened had I scheduled the morning, made a lesson plan, and stuck to it? I don't know. I like to think I would be flexible enough to postpone my plans, but knowing myself as I do, I don't believe I would have. I keep things unstructured so that I don't allow my plans to become more important than theirs.

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  8. Awesome post, Silvia. I love your analogy. It fits right in with my last post…”use the most direct method” and “seek quality over quanitity.” This year I think we are going to be “semi-homemade”…”mostly organic”, but anything we use that is not gourmet is supplemented with real books, to increase the nutritional value.
    Oh–I finally added you to my blogroll. I'm loving your posts!
    Blessings,
    Susan http://www.susanlemons.wordpress.com

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  9. Very interesting Silvia! I'm wondering if maybe our preschool group should have a get-together soon and discuss potential routines, schedules, etc. just to get ideas. We could do a playgroup, sort of, and focus specifically on this while the kids play. Let me know what you think!

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