It is curriculum choosing time!!! Augh!! Homeschool curriculum book fairs with all the competing curricula hawking their wares can be very overwhelming to homeschoolers. Most think it is overwhelming because of the many choices to select from, so they begin to ask around what others think they should use. I believe that is a recipe for disaster. I have always contended that book fairs are ONLY overwhelming because moms have not first established their educational philosophy… second, they have not evaluated how their students learn best… third, they have not considered their own limitations and demands in their life as the teacher… BEFORE fourth, beginning to evaluate curricula and see how it meshes with their philosophy, their child’s learning style and their individual needs as a teacher.
In the month of June, this blog will address all four of those issues in four separate posts culminating with a grid/chart of how to evaluate/choose curriculum that is RIGHT for your child and for your family. Stay tuned.
First, let’s define what we are choosing….curriculum which is “a course of study.” Further the course of study is broken into 2 parts….Content-what is taught and Methods-how it is taught. Content should cover the topic well and be taught from a Biblical worldview where it is applicable. Methods used to impart information are extremely important as they determine if the information lodges and stays in the child’s brain. However, all curriculum does not have to be shrink-wrapped and bought at the book fair to qualify as “a course of study.”
Years ago, when we bought land and built our home in Anna, TX, we hired sub-contractors, but our four boys helped where they could. Our curriculum was reading and revising house plans, painting and scraping, sheet rocking, hammering and nailing, learning to use power tools, measuring, digging and planting, learning to drive a truck, some understanding of plumbing and electrical, etc. All the “school curriculum” I required was math and reading library books, which the only question I asked about the book was “did you return it to the library?” I was quite sure I had damaged my sons at the end of the year, so I had them tested to see how far behind they were. Each one had progressed 1 to 3 years in each subject though we had not even done each subject!! I had unwittingly used my kids as guinea pigs to prove my philosophy of education…hands-on and discovery learning … the METHODS I preached…. had grown my sons’ brains! Amazing. It worked!
(See Blog: KONOS-ing builds Bigger Brains)
How does one establish an education philosophy? I established mine by research and from practical experience from when I taught in the projects of public school. First, my research. These are my two favorite reads that developed my educational philosophy which is esssentially the 5 D’s of KONOS….Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think…and What We Can Do About It by Jane Healy. Ph.D. which does not even mention homeschool but is totally applicable to teaching in every place for every age. My favorite quote from Jane Healy is, “Conversation builds executive brains”; hence, the rational for Dialogue in the 5 D’s of KONOS… AND Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child by Jeffery Freed, M.A.T. and Laurie Parsons. This book helps left brained parents understand the struggles of their right brained, totally creative kids. This opened my eyes to the realization that we do not all learn the same way and gave me my appreciation for my incredibly creative son, Rhett, who at 19 years of age, in college lamented, “I can paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but I have lost my 8th cell phone.”
These two books plus my teaching experience in the projects where the school would not give the students books to take home, because they routinely lost them caused me to resort to hands-on and discovery learning. No books coupled with extremely low reading levels in high school forced me to DO experiments daily to teach physical science. We even DRAMATIZED molecules Brownian motion as students took on the roles of molecules bumping into each other.
Like Christianity has to be personally owned by the believer, so too an educational philosophy has to be personally developed by each mom based on what she has read about how best to teach…. NOT on what takes the least amount of time and minimal involvement. Develop your own educational philosophy, BEFORE you begin to choose curriculum.