Today I’d like to talk a little bit about homeschool curriculum. I remember back when we first started our homeschool journey and I can’t distinctly remember the overwhelming nervousness that I felt about picking the “right” curriculum. I read books, blogs, talked with other homeschool mom’s, and prayed about what should I choose. I began using different forms of curriculum as early as age 3 with Noah. Of course, it wasn’t structured and was mainly used to allow me to see what things he could be presented with. Over the last four years, it has very much been a process of learning how Noah learns, what works best for us as a family, and realizing that each homeschool experience will probably be different than other’s. The greatest thing to truly realize is there is freedom to teach your child in a way that they thrive and flourish in learning. You are not restricted to conform to a certain curriculum or teaching method. Homeschool does not have to look like public school, but the beauty is; if you want it to then it can. Those four years we have experimented with various curriculums, teaching methods, different scheduling models, and so many other odds and ends that come with the territory of homeschooling. Now he’s in 2nd grade and this is the first year I feel like we have an amazing match of curriculum versus his learning style. There are a ton of choices out there in the vast land of homeschooling curriculum. Honestly, I think I have a bit of a problem. I LOVE buying curriculum. I LOVE reading about what other people are using and hearing their feedback. Finally, after much buying and reading, I feel we have found the best curriculum for our homeschool. However, before I go straight into what we are using this year, I’d love to share with you a few three basic ideas of lessons I have learned along the way in terms of picking curriculum.
- Curriculum is not a one size fits all. Part of the beauty of being able to homeschool is that we don’t have to fit our child(ren) in the mold of how a system says they have to learn. I learned this very quickly. All I had ever known was the public school method. While I had researched and studied all things homeschooling, I missed an important part. That important part was to not to try and fit your child into a mold. Before this revelation, there was a lot of frustrating moments, a lot of tears, and a ton of emotions of feeling like a failure. I urge you to read about all the different curriculum out there. Read about their method of approach such as spiral versus mastering. I would also caution you from only picking a curriculum for the sole purpose that a friend uses it. It might work wonders for their family, but it might be too much, too easy, or not a good fit for your family and child.
- Know your child’s learning style. This will take some evaluation. Pay attention to when they seem bored out of their minds, not retaining information, when do they light up, show excitement, something seems to stick more than others. Observe if what you are doing is this a different method than normal and how are they responding to it. Experiment to see if different ways work better than others. Sometimes it not just the curriculum, it’s the method it’s being presented in. For example, I bought a health curriculum. Noah enjoyed it but was a little bored with it; therefore, he was not retaining it. Noah is a very visual person. Therefore, I added some puppets to brighten things up. It’s the little things. Now he begs for health class everyday and to be the first subject of the day. Another example would be that we originally were using a curriculum that used a mastering method of teaching. Meaning, they would present info, the child would do the work and then it was not presented again. This did not work for us. Noah thrives on a spiral approach. The core of our curriculum uses a spiral approach which present small amounts of new information and then in each lesson briefly allows review and reinforcement of older material. While some children may find this annoying and just wants to learn the information and move one, Noah is one that likes the review for subjects such as Math and Language Arts. Knowing your child’s learning style will tremendously help you to know what type of curriculum will work best for them as well as what method you need to present it.
- Have it your way. As I said previously, there’s a ridiculous amount of curriculum choices out there. You have online, DVDs, workbooks, unit studies, hands-on, co-ops, boxed curriculum, unschooling…seriously, the list goes on and on. The point though of this “have it your way” thought is just that. You can pick a whole boxed curriculum that covers all subjects and tells you what to do and when to do it. You can pick and choose subjects from different curriculum providers. You can do some distance learning and you teach the rest. Seriously, the options are endless. Do what fits your family and child’s needs.
“When the atmosphere encourages learning, the learning is inevitable.” Elizabeth Foss
After applying these three basic ideas to our own homeschool, I feel I have finally found a good mixture of curriculum that compliments and fits nicely with Noah’s style of learning. I will include a link beside each subject for our curriculum. This link will take you directly to that particular subject and grade level. On most of the sites, you will be able to check out some curriculum samples and see pricing.
Bible: Christian Light Education, Bible 2, www.clp.org
Language Arts: Christian Light Education, Language Arts 2 (includes phonics, grammar, creative writing, handwriting, and spelling), www.clp.org
Reading: Christian Light Education, Reading 2, www.clp.org
Math: Christian Light Education, Math 2, www.clp.org
Social Studies: Bob Jones Press, Heritage Studies 2 Distance Learning, www.bjupresshomeschool.com
Science: Bob Jones Press, Science 2 Distance Learning, www.bjupresshomeschool.com
Geography: Evan-Moor, Daily Geography Grade 2, www.christianbook.com
Typing: Keyboarding without Tears, www.hwtears.com
Of course, I am already considering what next year will look like for curriculum choices. As of now, I feel that we will continue with the same publishers that we are using this year. Noah has made amazing strides in all his subjects and I truly feel it’s because he has curriculum that helps him learn in a way that he can relate to. I’m interested in hearing what curriculum choices have you chosen this year and what struggles you have overcome with your homeschool journey. Until next time, from our world to your world, go tell the world!!