Tuesday, September 10, 2013

No Do-Overs

If I had it all to do over again, I would do most all things differently. However, how would I know that if, I had not had the opportunity to do them the first time.
 ~Janice Markowitz

Googling for information about a certain homeschool product, I came across this intriguing blog post entitled "If I Were Starting Homeschooling Over From Scratch." As I scanned through it, I began thinking about how much the homeschool market has changed since I began and how much my daughter and I have changed as well. So many materials were not available at the time when we started that I might have liked to use or at least had considered before making a final choice. I am sure that there are some newer products that I might have preferred over what I decided on at the time, but the ones I picked were tried and true, still available today and I rarely ever find myself thinking "I wish this was available years ago."

I have this philosophy to purposely not look back at my life with regret, which is not to say that I do not have regrets or I never wished I had done some things differently or not at all, but I have always been one to believe that in the same circumstances with the same information and same emotions in play I had at the time, I would have done exactly what I did. It is very rare that I say or even think if I had it to do over again...

I simply do not believe in do-overs. They are the illusions for when we cannot face up to the worst we have done, but they are not reality. I don't believe in examining my past and thinking about how things would have turned out if I had done this or that differently. Those are empty wishes on which I simply do not spend time and effort. It is better to spend that time and effort in making good decisions right here and now. I believe in going on from where I am. I believe in the possibly of tomorrows. I even believe that all my history—the good, the bad, and the ugly—made me into the person I am today and what I do today will make me into the person I will be tomorrow. 

Some would argue with me that when we accepted Jesus, we became new persons in Christ. Yes, but this did not erase my history, it became part of it. Jesus did not give me a new past, but a new future. I do not believe in do-overs, just in new days, each being a beginning of the rest of my life as the cliché goes. This very moment is the first of the rest of my life, even though there have been 50-some years of moments before this one.

Homeschooling has tested these philosophical convictions of mine. There have been more than a few things I have questioned. There have been more than a few things I planned to do that we have not done, at least not the way I planned. I have, am, and will be holding myself responsible for the failures within my daughter's education. What I do, actually all that I have ever done because it makes me who I am today, has a direct influence on who she has been, is, and will be. All of it is her education.

There have been times I simply had to surrender and rely on God's guidance, even unschooling because of circumstances and being unable to control the Princess' education—as if such a thing can be controlled! (I think "control" is another illusion with which we delude ourselves.) There have been times I was more organize and strict with her lessons as reminded myself that there are no do-overs. Still, I learned this most wondrous secret: either way she learned. Yet, most of the time, I fluctuate between the two extremes at points in our lives and even differing between subjects, but it has had little bearing on how fast she learned whatever she learned with a few exceptions like Greek and Latin.

I was thinking about all these things this week after I reviewed the Elementary Greek curriculum that arrived a few days ago. It is very different from Greek 'n' Stuff - Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! which is for what I hoped, but it is not quite what I was expecting either. It is good, probably just what we need at this point, but does not have as much practice as I would like to see. The lessons are short, but meant to be done daily. Hey, Andrew! lessons could be done daily, but they were very uneven in their time demands, and since it was the same with the Greek 'n' Stuff Latin, I chose to do two pages of Greek on one day alternating with two pages of Latin on the next day, which even out the time somewhat better. Some lessons were taking about an hour, but the organization of these programs was adding to our difficulty of really learning the material. From what I am seeing with the Elementary Greek, there is the possibility that I may need to supplement its lessons with some exercises from Hey, Andrew!

Elementary Greek was available when I was choosing our Greek curriculum, but I was right in my assessment at that time. Had we started with Elementary Greek when she was younger, it would move too fast for us to really process and grasp the information well. I think it would have been a hard cold start even for her at this age considering she is learning other languages also. My plan to "train her brain" to accept the concepts of other languages very early, while she was still learning our own language, did fulfill its purpose and she is rather good with this. I do not know why I feel this is so important at this time, nor even why it was to me then, although I had my reasoning, but I believe my plan must be working within God's plan.

With Elementary Greek, much of the first year will be review and because it lacks some of the things we have covered with Hey, Andrew!, I am assuming that those things will be covered in Year 2 or even 3. The benefit of Elementary Greek not aligning with Hey, Andrew!, is that we will have enough review to cover our weak areas and ease us into the new routine. In addition, there are some vocabulary words that will be new to us and some concepts also so it will not be boring. I also was a bit astonished to find that from Hey, Andrew! we learned a few wrong pronunciations in simple things like the alphabet letter names. Omicron is not /OM-i-cron/ but /om-EE-cron/ and pi is not /PIE/ but /PEE/How well would that have gone over in my geometry class, I wonder?

Do I regret using Hey, Andrew! for all these years? Not at all. I used to think we could have moved along faster as we took more than a year for each level, which is why we are only in Level 4, but in reality what it was was as good as it could be with the lesson loads the Princess has had and our crazy schedules. I initially had hoped to switch to Elementary Greek after Level 3 or 4 of Hey, Andrew!, but as we used it, I changed my mind concerned about how the two would not align. Now, here I am implementing the original plan and seeing the change as beneficial. Actually, I am quite pleased with my choice: The timing is good as to her age and quickness to understanding. Hey, Andrew! did well for introducing us both to Greek, so that we could do well with the faster start pace of Elementary Greek and I will be keeping Hey, Andrew! on hand as it still may be a good supplement. 

This change in our Greek curriculum works so well it is almost as if it was planned for this particular time, and I do not mean by me. I have always asked my Lord to be the one in control of my daughter's education and that I would be guided by Him. If it is His plan then it cannot be wrong.

So, if I had it to do over again...I would do it exactly as I have. If I were starting homeschooling now, I probably would have used the same plan, at least for Greek, as I did because there are no other overly impressive Greek curricula for young children that I have seen so far.

Today we will work with what we have and move on with our sights set on the future. Whatever the Princess lacks in her education at this point, God will provide along the way. I have seen that happen many times, so I have faith that He will continue within or despite my plans and failures.

~ My Lord, keep us looking forward, learning from mistakes but not wishing we had done things differently, and making better choices today for our tomorrow. May all our chosen paths be the ones You have chosen for us. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.