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A Better Way To Homeschool: Choosing Curriculum
After deciding to homeschool their children, many parents panic about choosing the “right” program to use. This is understandable because parents take responsibility for 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 started schooling my own children, I heard many mothers and educators reassure me that this was not the program that would make or break my child’s education. The truth is that with the right attitude toward learning, a homeschooled child can excel far beyond the constraints 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 compassionately with the world around him. What would that be for?
I would rather invest heavily in “how to learn” training with my own children than “what to learn” anytime. A child learning to be an independent, motivated and compassionate learner would be my main goal. So what about the curriculum?
The main goal you need to set as a homeschooler is your level of achievement. 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 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.
- Math facts must become reflexive. A child cannot hope to flourish mathematically if he has not memorized these basic facts.
- Children need to devour books and great literature. This is the key to becoming an excellent communicator; both on paper and in front of others. Nothing exposes kids to vocabulary and culture like great novels.
- Children need lots of practice to perfect the art of writing and communication. There is no way around this one. To become a great writer, you have to write a lot.
Since these are the personal goals of my own children, I would expect you to agree with some and disagree with others.
Once we have established these “success filters”, we look at the different programs and subjects that we teach our children. We take a few things into consideration when planning our school year.
- The age and school level of each of our children.
- Can all subjects 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, hands-on experiences and people that will add to the depth of each child’s education.
Each family approaches the curriculum differently. Personally, I use the state standards as a guideline, then look for books and resources that cover those standards. I’m totally unimpressed with heavy work, so I tend to use real books, novels, and textbooks, then choose projects that culminate a subject (like the Civil War). I then choose engaging materials and supplies to facilitate “theme projects”.
Our schoolwork takes the form of journals, lapbooks, paperbacks, Powerpoints and presentations that each child will complete. Keep in mind 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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