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Category Archives: Homeschool – Choosing A Curriculum Series
The big subjects are all out of the way. If you have missed any, feel free to click on the links below and review my previous entries: Kindergarten – Language Arts Kindergarten – Mathematics Kindergarten – History & Geography Kindergarten … Continue reading
We are moving right along and I’m getting more and more jazzed by the minute about our homeschooling plans for the year. For some of this science, I would like to get the husband involved. So I’ve got in a … Continue reading
I took a day off in curriculum planning. Hey seriously though, it’s important to keep it all relevant, right? Larry the 8-Eyed Alien had to have his day in the sun. So here I am at the Social Studies portion … Continue reading
Note: I am writing this on Sunday, and Emily is typing away on an electric typewriter. I’ve been reading How Children Learn by John Holt. In it, he talks about exposing young children (15 months and up) to an electric … Continue reading
Now if you are new to curriculum planning as I am, then this is still rather…intimidating. I mean, sure, I’ve homeschooled before, but Dee was fourteen when we started homeschooling. It was very much based on her input and her … Continue reading
A few days ago I realized, with a bit of a start, that Emily will be turning five soon. Less than three months from now, my baby will be five and my mental wail was almost audible. I can’t believe … Continue reading
I have recently been attending some meetings discussing the Waldorf model of education and considering participating/helping start a local Waldorf co-op. Now, what I don’t know about Waldorf, or its founder, Rudolf Steiner, could fill a book. Literally, I’ve been … Continue reading
Last week in “The Choices, The Choices! Which Curriculum Do I Choose?” we talked about choosing between secular or faith-based curriculum. Naturally, that decision really falls into what is important for your family.
Today I want to focus on a question I hear quite often, “Am I covering all of the major subjects? How do I make sure I’m teaching “Johnny” something from each area (math, language arts, science, history, art, etc) each day?
One of the major holdovers from a public or private school education, which 99.99% of us have had, is the obsession we have with making sure our children have ‘all of the basics’.
As one homeschooling family said to me recently, “When we first started, it was like having school at home. One half hour for each subject and then we would move on.”
The beauty of homeschool is this: THERE ARE NO RULES. Now I can hear the yelling starting now,
“Not in my state.”
“Well, maybe not in YOUR house, Christine, but in our house, our kids need an EDUCATION.”
“Are you insane?”
So let me clarify it better…
Although state requirements may vary in levels of intrusiveness, homeschooling is about making a difference in your children’s lives. It is about figuring out how to help children LEARN.
Sure, you can teach Latin and the classics. You can purchase a curriculum from Calvert. You can let them run about barefoot and stare at the grass all day.
All of these paths lead towards the same goal – helping our children learn. Once they are on that path, nothing will stand in their way. So I encourage you to think a little less about curriculum, and a little more about the end result.
The schools talk endlessly about “giving your child a foundation on which to succeed” – ah, the great and good “Foundation” of which without, nothing else is possible. “They must know how to read and write to this level (a level that changes and has degraded horrifically in the past 100 years) and be able to do do math to this level (again, degraded horrifically over the past century). They should know this, this and this about history and be able to sew a straight line, hammer a nail, et cetera.”
But the schools have lost their way. They have lost sight of a very basic premise – give a man a fish, and he will have enough to eat for one meal. Teach him to fish, and he will feed himself (and his family) indefinitely. The same goes for education – give them the tools to LEARN and the rest will follow.
That said, I’ll now endorse a rather unique concept that you can start doing today – Unit Studies. Instead of wondering how to teach all of the basics to your child, consider focusing on an interest, and then adapting the activities and learning around it.
I’ll give you an example…firefighters.
My daughter Emily is obsessed with firefighters. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Emily will answer, “I want to be a fighter fighter, a doctor, and a mom.”
Go Emily, go!
In any case, we recently started to study them in earnest. Well, as earnestly as you study with a four-year-old, that is.
I borrowed some books and a DVD from the library that talked about firefighters and what they do. (Social Studies and Reading) I looked up the history of firefighters and learned that there had been firefighting brigades founded in Roman times and even in ancient Egypt. We talked about this, and spoke to our local fire department and got a tour of the firehouse. (History) We learned how many firefighters must be on shift at any one time and how many go out on a call. (Math)
Emily saw their kitchen and learned that firefighters stay in the firehouse for long shifts and prepare their own food there. (Home Economics) Later we sent a Thank You card to the firefighters for giving us a tour. Emily dictated the thank you card and carefully printed her name and then decorated the card. (Language Arts, Creative Arts)
As you can see, a little from each subject was covered. And these kind of opportunities are everywhere. We could incorporate science as well – learn about the different types of fires that firefighters might put out and what chemicals they must use in the process.
Unit studies are everywhere – from baking to nature walks.
So does it REALLY have to be something from each area each day? No, it doesn’t. Life isn’t like that, so why should our studies be that way? Life has days when it is nothing but science (be it nature, health issues, or astronomy) and days when it is as wildly varied and incorporates all of the major subjects.
Believe in yourself…and your child. Give them the tools to adequately pursue their interests, and the knowledge will occur, naturally and easily.
Of the many choices and questions that confront homeschooling parents, whether they have been homeschooling for a while or are just getting started is that of curriculum.
When I began homeschooling my teenage daughter I felt that I was very lucky. She already knew how to read, do basic math, et cetera – for us it was simply a matter of building on those skills already learned. For parents of younger children, however, the choices and decisions may seem overwhelming.
- Should I choose a secular or faith-based curriculum?
- How do I make sure I’m teaching “Johnny” something from each area (math, language arts, science, history, art, etc) each day?
- Should I pick an all-inclusive curriculum, or piecemeal from different sources?
- Should I unschool?
- Do I need to have my children tested to make sure they are on track?
- What are the laws regarding homeschooling in my state?
We will be taking these questions in order over the next few weeks.
So, today, let’s take the first question – secular or faith-based?
A great amount of the homeschool curriculum out on the market today is faith-based. This is to be expected when you consider that faith was one of the main motivators for parents who chose to homeschool early in the homeschooling movement. Nowadays, there are many families choosing to homeschool for many reasons that have nothing to do with faith.
If incorporating faith in your child’s daily education is important to you, then consider doing an internet search under a parameter that suits your needs, for example, ‘catholic homeschool curriculum’ or ‘christian homeschool curriculum’. I also used ‘jewish’ and ‘baptist’ and ‘lutheran’ in the search engine and found sites that supported all of them, although in some cases (Lutheran) there was not a specific curriculum for Lutherans listed. There are even results for ‘pagan homeschool curriculum’.
Take some time to visit these sites and talk about it with your spouse/partner and your children.
If you would prefer religion to remain separate from your homeschooling experience, then simply type in ‘secular homeschool curriculum’ and see what comes up.
In all of these cases, ask the curriculum provider for a brochure or a list of included books in a particular grade curriculum. You don’t have to buy something sight unseen.
Homeschool conferences are a great way to see the massive variety of choices available to you. I will be adding an Homeschool Conference page soon to this website to aid you in finding a homeschool conference near you.
In my browsing I noticed that there is a Midwest Homeschool Convention being held at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio from March 31 – April 2nd. This appears to be a strictly faith-based conference and you can find more information by visiting them here. This same affiliated group is also holding a conference in Memphis, Tennessee, March 3rd – 5th. Information on that conference can be found here.
Another conference in Spokane Valley, Washington is being held on 3/25 – 3/26, more info is here.
That is just a sampling. There are many more happening around the country.
Another great way to help make the choice between faith-based and secular curriculum is to join a local homeschool group. Again, the faith-based are more numerous, but secular, unschool, and pagan homeschoolers are popping up all over the place. Also, some homeschool groups are deciding to be secular even with faith-based members – the combinations are endless!
By joining a local homeschool group, however, you can often ask for guidance in curriculum choice. Other members will share with you what they used and what worked for them and why. In many cases a homeschool group also has an active online forum that allows members to stay in touch with each other and discuss pertinent information, challenges, and achievements.
Stay tuned next Thursday when I address the following question…”How do I make sure I’m teaching “Johnny” something from each area (math, language arts, science, history, art, etc) each day?”