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A Better Way To Homeschool: Choosing Curriculum
After deciding to homeschool their children, many parents panic at the thought of choosing the “right” curriculum to use. This is understandable as parents take the responsibility of educating their children out of the hands of the public school system. How can parents be sure they are making the right decisions?
When I first started schooling my own children, I heard many mothers and educators assure me that it wasn’t the curriculum that would make or break my child’s education. The truth is, with the right attitude toward learning, a homeschooled child can excel far beyond the limitations of any “curriculum.” Attitude is everything. Character is paramount. If the child becomes a brilliant student who passes all the tests and standards set before him, but cannot communicate with compassion to the world around him. What good would that do?
I’d rather invest heavily in “how to learn” training with my own kids than “what to learn” any day. A child who learns to become an independent, self-motivated and compassionate learner would be my primary goal. So what about the resume?
The main goal you should set as a homeschooler is your standard of success. In my own family, we have 4 core goals that would define our mission as home educators. Keep in mind that these are different for every homeschooling family.
- Our faith is the most important thing we can pass on to our children. As Christian parents, we include the Lord in everything we do.
- Mathematical facts must be reflective. A child cannot expect to thrive mathematically if he does not have these basic facts memorized.
- Children need to devour books and great literature. This is key to becoming an excellent communicator; both on paper and in front of others. Nothing exposes children to vocabulary and culture like great novels.
- Children need lots and lots of practice to perfect the art of writing and communicating. There is no way around this one. To be a great writer, you have to write a lot.
Since these are my own children’s personal goals, I would expect you to agree with some and disagree with others.
Once these “success filters” are established we look at the different curricula and subjects we teach our children. We keep a few things in mind when planning our school year.
- The ages and levels of each of our children.
- Any subject can be combined and customized to teach a variety of ages simultaneously.
- California Department of Education standards (since that’s where we live).
- Enriching activities, field trips, practical experiences and people who will add depth to each child’s education.
Every family approaches curriculum differently. I personally use the state standards as a guideline and then locate books and resources that cover those standards. I’m totally unimpressed with busy work, so I tend to use actual books, novels, and textbooks, and then choose projects that culminate in a theme (like the Civil War). Then I choose attractive materials and supplies to facilitate “theme-based projects.”
Our school work takes the form of journals, notebooks, pocket notebooks, Powerpoints and presentations that each child will make. Note that what children learn is not as important as how they learn. In this technology-driven age, the “world is at your fingertips.”
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