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 on the responsibility of educating their children outside of the public school system. How can parents be sure they are making the right decisions?
When I started educating my own children, I heard many mothers and educators reassure me that it was not the curriculum that would make or break my children’s education. The truth is, with the right attitude toward learning, a homeschooled child 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 thrown at him, but cannot compassionately communicate with the world around him. How good would that be?
I’d rather invest a lot in training “how to learn” with my own children than “what to learn” any day. A child learning to become an independent, self-motivated and compassionate learner would be my main goal. So what about the curriculum?
The main goal that you, as a homeschooler, need to set is your standard for success. In my own family, we have 4 basic goals that would define our mission statement as homeschoolers. Please note 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.
- Mathematical operations must become reflexive. A child cannot expect to thrive mathematically if he does not have those basic facts memorized.
- 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.
- Children need lots and lots of practice to perfect the art of writing and communication. There is no way around this. To become a great writer, one must write a lot.
Since these are personal goals for my own children, I hope you agree with some and disagree with others.
Once we have established these “success filters” we look at the various curricula and subjects 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 some 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 who will contribute to the depth of each child’s education.
Each family approaches the curriculum differently. I personally use the state standards as a guide and then locate books and resources that cover those standards (Civil War). I then choose attractive materials and supplies to facilitate “theme-based projects.”
Our schoolwork takes the form of journals, lapbooks, notebooks, Powerpoints, and presentations that each child will complete. keep that in mind what children learn not as important as how do they learn. In this technology-driven age, “the world is at your fingertips.”