Choosing Curriculum Step 4: Comparing Curriculum with Jessica’s Chart

Finally, Jessica’s Curriculum Evaluation Form has arrived. WARNING!  As I talk about the chart, know I am tainted by my educational philosophy formed from factual knowledge about HOW CHILDREN LEARN BEST. Looking at the chart, I believe the best learning takes place on the right hand side of the chart…period. So… if that is true, (and it definitely is) then do we disregard all the previous week’s assessments of kids and moms? May it never be! 

Let me give you several examples. This next week a woman is coming to cook for my husband and me to sell us some very expensive pots and pans. I already know the pots are the best, but there is a huge disparity between knowing they are the best and affording the best. Dissecting a cow’s eyeball is so much better than reading about the parts of an eye from a book AND the same about building an ear under the dining room table….BUT if you’re having out-of-town guests or throwing up with morning sickness, the best teaching my have to be sacrificed to keep the teacher from phoning to see if there are openings in the nearest private schools.

Some subjects, like history and science, should be taught on the right side of the chart the majority of the time, while other subjects like spelling, math, and phonics need to be taught on level and can tend more to the left side of the chart. But some kid’s learning style, for example, requires for them to even understand a math or a phonics concept, the math concept or phonics sound must be introduced initially on the right side of the chart. Further, let me share my experience with acclaimed Saxon Math. For my oldest, who was a math whiz and understood the concept before it was explained, Saxon offered great drill that sharpened his math skills. But for my other non-whiz math students, Saxon’s format was death. Each Saxon lesson introduced a new concept, had only five practice problems over the new concept before launching into 20 other practice problems that were reviewing all the other concepts previously covered. My non-whiz sons needed more practice on the new concept before mixing it in with all the previous concepts. That is how closely you need to examine each child and each curriculum. Your fallback teaching methods should always be hands-on and discovery, because ALL kids learn better and remember more using hands-on and discovery no matter what their learning style + hands-on and discovery physically grows bigger brains.

In literature, history, and science, a Biblical perspective definitely matters; whereas, in math and spelling, it makes no difference. I have used anthologies as well as whole books in teaching literature, but lean toward whole book literature if I have the time. I would never do well with a rigid curriculum that required me to punch a time clock. I want to take advantage of life happening around me and my kids.  I confess to being more organic.

I hear many parents complain about the time they must be involved in teaching their kids and that grieves my soul. What a privilege to have the opportunity to spend the time teaching your kids, getting to know them and developing lifetime relationships. If you settle for a computer to teach your child the entire day, the only relationship your child will have is with the keyboard. No one can teach like a parent who knows each child inside and out. In all this choosing of curriculum, remember you, the teacher, are the most important component in your homeschool, because teachers NOT  curriculum teach.