As I consider curriculum to use for the year ahead, I am reminded of things I’ve learned along the way. Here are six thoughts I would like to share that may help you decide on curriculum for your homeschool.
Choose books and curriculum based on your philosophy of education.
Before you choose what curriculum to use for your homeschool, determining your philosophy of education is a good place to start. How do you define your vision of education for your homeschool? Do you lean towards a classical education, a Charlotte Mason approach, textbooks and worksheets, unschooling, or a mix of some of this and some of that? Your philosophy of education will guide you as you make choices for your students.
Choose to support the learning style of your child by your choice of curriculum.
While choosing curriculum keep the learning styles of your family in mind. You have a teaching style and your child has a learning style, even if you have not yet discovered what those are. If you have more than one child, you may have several different learning styles at play. Know yourself, know your children, and realize that everyone may have some adjustments to make along the way. A good teacher, a good parent, will meet the child/student where they are, and guide them according to their strengths, sometimes in spite of the curriculum.
Choose to not compare.
Compare books, curriculum, and crafts with others, but not your children, your family, or your homeschool. Look for opportunities for growth and have faith that God will guide you as you seek Him. It really will be ok. By the time your children leave your homeschool to go out into the world they will be potty-trained, able to dress themselves, able to read and to do math. Teach them how to learn, how to find the answers and ask the right questions, and that their opportunity to learn and grow is not over just because they have graduated from high school. If they ever feel inadequate in any area, tell them to find a good book on that topic and learn.
Choose curriculum changes carefully.
Like a lot of us out there, my bookshelves can attest to the fact that I love books and curriculum. When my oldest were young I spent a lot of time sifting through a multitude of curriculum choices. After 15 years of homeschooling I have looked at, heard about, and used a wide variety of materials. Homeschooling allows us the ability to throw a book, curriculum, or method out the window if it is not working for us. That’s great, however, changing things too often can be cause for educational confusion. Rather than fixing a problem, changing a curriculum can throw a wrench into your school year that is hard to handle.
Especially with math. My personal opinion is that so many of us look so hard for the perfect math curriculum for our precious ones, that we either make math too hard, or we don’t make math hard enough: by that I mean that we don’t buckle down and do the work, who cares if the math book doesn’t have colored pictures for pity’s sake! Sometimes the discipline of education isn’t fun. That’s life. And it’s a good lesson to learn. Maybe tomorrow we can count cookies and eat them for math but today it’s this worksheet. Can you tell I switched math books once too often?
Choose with wisdom.
If I had made a different choice to begin with, we may not have been so mathematically frustrated. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better. Just because I can do math doesn’t mean I don’t want an answer book. My big math tip: choose a curriculum that has been around for years and has been used successfully by many people. This tip may not apply in all cases, but I think it is especially helpful for new homeschoolers, particularly if math is not your personal favorite. And remember those real life math moments: games, games, games, cooking, measuring, games, and did I mention games?
Choose to remember, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
If it worked for you with your older children it may still work with your youngest. I decided to try the newest and greatest language arts program with my youngest. Yeah, right. It was pretty awesome, but in the end I became frustrated with my learning curve as a teacher, especially when I already knew the other one so well! I switched back to what I knew and wasted a bunch of money. Now I need to sell it. Who knows when that will happen. (I do know myself. ) I can use the same curriculum with different, unique children by tweaking it a bit or approaching things a little differently.
I hope you found this helpful. If not, throw it out the window. In either case, choose to have a great year of learning!