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A Better Way to Homeschool: Choosing the 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 responsibility for educating their children outside of the reach of the public school system. How can parents be sure they are making the right decisions?

When I started educating my own children, I listened to many mothers 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 homeschooler 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 that are presented to him, but cannot communicate compassionately with the world around him. What good would that do?

I’d rather invest a lot in “how to learn” training with my own children than in “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 curriculum?

The primary goal you must set as a homeschooler is your standard 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Mathematical facts must become reflective. A child cannot expect to succeed mathematically if he has not memorized these basic facts.
  3. Children need to devour books and good literature. This is the key to becoming an excellent communicator; both on paper and in front of others. Nothing exposes children to vocabulary and culture like great novels.
  4. Children need a lot, a lot of practice to perfect the art of writing and communicating. There is no way around this one. To become a great writer, you have to write a lot.

Since these are my own children’s personal goals, I hope you agree with some and disagree with others.

Once we set up these “success filters,” we looked at the various curricula 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 children.
  • Can subjects be combined and customized to teach different ages simultaneously?
  • California Department of Education standards (since that’s where we live).
  • Enriching activities, field trips, hands-on experiences, and people who will contribute to the depth of each child’s education.

Each family approaches the curriculum differently. Personally, I use the state standards as a guide and then locate books and resources that cover those standards. I’m not completely impressed with hectic work, so I tend to use actual books, novels, and textbooks and then choose projects that culminate in a theme (like Civil War). Then I choose attractive materials and supplies to facilitate “theme-based projects.”

Our school work takes the form of journals, lapbooks, portfolios, PowerPoint, and presentations that each child will complete. Keep that in mind what children learn it is not as important as how do they learn. In this technology-driven age, “the world is at your fingertips.”

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