One of the strengths of Trail Guide to Learning is the fact that it is so well laid-out and organized—everything is basically done for you! That includes the check-off charts and material lists for each week. With that being said, no curriculum will be a perfect fit and we should never be slaves to a curriculum. The first time I went through the Trail Guide series, one of the authors regularly reminded me that the program was meant to serve only as a guide and that I, as teacher, was the master. She encouraged me to tweak lessons or make adaptions to make it work for us. That was challenging for me as a “recovering” perfectionist. I wanted to do it exactly as it was laid out! But there were some things that were not working as well as I would have liked. So what is a mom to do?
Different Seasons Call for Different Schedules
If you’re in a season of life such as having a new baby, dealing with an ailing parent, or any plethora of challenging life situations, you may need to adapt the curriculum. Consider that you can take as long as you need to complete each lesson. You could finish Exploration in a year as it is written, but you could also take each unit and stretch it over a longer time period.
Use your judgement, flexibility and a little creativity to make the curriculum work best for you and your family!
That choice allows your children the free time to explore the curriculum and enrich their experience. For example, if they are enjoying the animals they’re learning about in science, let them find books from the library, information on the internet, or educational movies to learn more. Not to mention, have you taken a good look at the enrichment sections lately? They are chock-full of great ways to deepen your lessons. It may be best to allow your children some freedom to explore with the enrichment portion as a launching point.
Making Trail Guide More Independent
Trail Guide to Learning is designed to be very interactive with the parent, but it can be easily adapted if you need your children to work more independently. This can be important for a working parent, someone battling sickness, or a parent with multiple children. My older children used to work on certain sections independently while I was busy teaching their siblings. Then, when we came together to read, I would check their independent work. This can be done easily with copywork, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. In Exploration, I highly recommend students work independently during the drawing and writing assignments from the North American Wildlife Guide or during the state pages in Settlement. This is something that took time to get used to as we progressed through the curriculum. My kids learned how to use the simple, well laid-out guide, and the provided checklist to complete certain sections on their own. I loved that it fostered their independent learning skills and I was freed up to do other necessary tasks!
Suggestions for Rearranging Your Day
While using Trail Guide with my older two children, getting a day’s work done in one sitting was impossible as my two younger ones needed my time, too. We had to work around naptimes, preschool activities, and some out of the house activities. So naturally splitting up the assignments into two parts was a good fit for us. I usually managed to do a Bible reading, copywork/dictation, and readers/read-alouds in the early part of the day. While my younger children were taking naps during the second part of the day, we would typically do a science experiment/lesson, history lesson, or art project. I was careful to only keep it to an hour so, leaving a little time for myself (this is critical in mom life).
Another idea might include doing science with dad in the evening or a Saturday morning (or another subject depending on the dad and his interests). This is a great way to involve dads in the homeschooling process!
We usually read two lessons in our readers and read-alouds on days when I knew we would have less time the next day for school. On a day when time is cut short because your youngers need extra attention or everybody just needs a break, take the lessons and do them on the fifth day (which was created to be not only a review day, but also an opportunity to catch up).
Remember you are the teacher. Use your judgement, flexibility and a little creativity to make the curriculum work best for you and your family!