Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Choose Curriculum

Cover Photo
photo courtesy of SD TeenPact
It's that time of year when this year's material is getting close to finished or totally boring, curriculum catalogs are arriving and convention season has arrived. Long gone are the days of 1-2 textbooks suppliers and a smattering of home-grown homeschool mom and pop shops. Homeschooling is a multi-billion dollar a year biz and savvy curriculum sellers have sleek catalogs, slick marketing and great ideas. Everything looks new and shiny and promises to please.

What's a person to do?

I've written about pedagogy and curriculum planning here and here, but I've also heard back from folks that get stressed out just trying to understand the word. So, regardless of pedagogy, how does one pick curriculum? First, a definition:

Curriculum -a specially constructed information system whose purpose is to influence, teach, train or cultivate the mind and character of youth.

With that in mind:

1) Get clear on who you are. For instance, are you a conservative Christian? A committed pagan? A Mormon? A Jew? Do you believe in yec, oec, intelligent design or evolution? Do you believe that Civil War was the War Between the States or the Northern Oppression? Your belief system determines and guides your curriculum choices; simply because most parents want to share their belief system with their child. If you're not sure of your belief system, pm me and let's talk ; )

2) Get clear on who your kids are. I have auditory learners, kinesthetic and visual. I have some get er' done types and other project loving kids. Be aware of how your kid learns best and what they love with the view to shore up your kids weaknesses, as well as utilize their strengths.

3) Get clear on what you want to have accomplished at the end of the day/ year/ decade/ childhood. I want my kids to know a whole lot (going on the theory that all learning really is remembering) and I want them to be able to synthesize, and communicate intelligently about what it is they know. I also believe in allowing my kids to experience as much as possible while still building solid skill sets and developing a Biblically based Christian belief system.

4) Gather resources that make sense given who you are , who your kid is, what you want your kid to know at the end of the day. If you're not sure which resources to gather or where to find some, get on a fast moving homeschool board, visit some conventions, start googling and find some homeschool moms to talk with.

5) Compare resources. I compare cost, but also organization, ease of use, presentation, etc.

6) Make a decision. Prepare to stick with your decision. Leave room and money in your budget for surprises, changes  and inspiration along the way.

7) Have fun and feel the excitement. If I'm excited about the cirruculum, it makes a difference in my kid's attitudes about the curriculum. If it's not something I can get behind, I'll have a hard time teaching or promoting it to them.  

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