Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Curriculum Choices

This fall we will start our 16th year of homeschooling.  I have generally considered myself an eclectic relaxed homeschooler, leaning toward Charlotte Mason and Classical ideas and at times incorporating Unit Studies into our school plans.

In those early years, I used Miquon Math , Greenleaf Press, LLATL, BJU Press, the library, and Ruth Beechick methods.

Over the years, as my children and I changed and grew and as new children were added to the family, many, many other homeschool materials found a home on my bookshelves...

Saxon math, Easy Grammar, Considering God's Creation,  

 Apologia science, KONOS, Prairie Primer, Beautiful Feet history guides, Progeny Press literature guides, Writing Strands, Wordsmith, Explode the Code, Five in a Row.

Editor in Chief, Journey Through Grammar Land, Jacobs Algebra, Chalkdust, Video Text, Diana Waring history, Heart of Wisdom, Simply Grammar, PowerGlide, Rosetta Stone, Spelling Power, Teaching Textbooks, AO Lifepacs,

Latina Christiana, Write Shop, Horizons Math, Winston Grammar, Artistic Pursuits, and now Tapestry of Grace

Why so many? My husband asks that question too. 
  • First of all, there isn't a perfect curriculum out there and  if you just find it, you have won!  Each child has different needs, different strengths and weaknesses, and one of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to individualize.  So evaluating what is working in your school and what is not is a yearly ( and sometimes more frequent ) job.  What worked well for one child might not work for the next. And what worked in elementary years might be the wrong choice for upper grades.
  • The big picture is to provide a rich educational environment for our children, not just a stack of books. Teaching to our child's strengths and building up their areas of weakness requires a variety of approaches, materials, and experiences!  
  • Children might not be working "on grade level" across the board.  
  • Curriculum is a great tool, and sometimes more than one tool is needed for a job. You as a teacher control the curriculum, and not the other way around. So sometimes I use a bit of this, and supplement it with some of that.
  •  I also have to admit to being a bit of a  "curriculum junkie", and I love the variety of approaches and materials available to us as homeschoolers.  I hate choosing one thing off a restaurant menu, and love a good salad bar! 
So there you go.   It is overwhelming at first, but after a while choosing curriculum becomes a great adventure!  My trusted guides in the early years were Mary Pride and Cathy Duffy, who wrote curriculum review guides that I read from cover to cover.  Today the internet abounds with homeschool curriculum reviews, some of which I've linked to in this post. Just remember that because our families are unique, what works for one family might not work for you. There are also lots and lots of used curriculum message boards and local used book fairs and used book stores where you can sell what you no longer need... so be fearless!  If you make a mistake, someone else will be happy to take it off your hands as they fill their curriculum toolbox.


Renee said...

Thanks for the article Beth. I am going to check out Journey Through Grammar Land for Mikayla (6th grade).

Renee said...

One more comment. I know I have asked you this before. I am going to order Artistic Pursuits for my girls (ages 11 & 14) one entering middle school and one high school. Could I start my high schooler in the jr. high level doing both books (one 9th grade, next level 10th grade) then move to High school books. Or should I just start in High School? She draws on her own all the time.

NCLighthousekeeper said...

YES! I jump back and forth between books all the time. Your girls can definitely work out of the same book, and I'd start with the Jr. High book. Book 1 is b/w drawing lessons, and book 2 is color - you don't have to do book 1 before book 2.