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 to educate their kids out of the hands of the public school system. How can the parents be sure that they are making the correct decisions?
When I first began schooling my own kids I heard many moms and educators assure me that it was not the curriculum that would make or break my child’s education. The truth is, with the right attitude toward learning, a homeschool child can excel far beyond the constraints of any “curriculum”. Attitude is everything. Character is paramount. If the child becomes a brilliant student who aces every test and standard set before them, yet cannot communicate compassionately with the world around them. What good would that be?
I would rather invest heavily in the training of “how to learn” with my own kids than “what to learn” any day. A Child that learns to become an independent, self-motivated, compassionate learner would be my primary goal. So what about curriculum?
The primary goal you as a homeschooler need to set is your standard’s for success. In my own family, we have 4 basic goals that would define our mission statement as homeschoolers. Keep in mind that these are different for each 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.
- Math facts need to become reflexive. A child cannot hope to thrive mathematically if they do not have those 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 perfecting the art of writing and communicating. There is no way around this one. To become a great writer, one must write a lot.
Since these are the personal goals for my own children, I would expect you to agree with some and disagree with others.
Once we established these “filters of success” we look at the various curriculums and subjects that we teach our children. We take a few things into consideration when planning our school year.
- The ages and grade levels of each of our kids.
- Can any subjects be combined and customized to teach a variety of ages simultaneously.
- The standards of the Department of Education for California (since that is where we live).
- Enriching activities, field trips, hands-on experiences, and people who will add to the depth of education of each child.
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 am completely unimpressed with busy work, so I tend to use actual books, novels and texstbooks and then choose projects that culmiate a topic (like the Civil War). I then choose engaging materials and supplies to facilitate “topic driven projects”.
Our school work takes the form of journals, lapbooks, pocketbooks, Powerpoints, and presentations that each child will complete. Keep in mind that what the kids learn is not as important as how they learn. In this technology driven age the “world is at your fingertips”.