Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Curriculum Choices

We began home educating at a time when curriculum choices were very limited, both by availability and cost.  It's amazing how much curriculum is now available to home educating families.  There are dozens of ways to teach every subject to every age level.  And of course that is both good and challenging.

There is a natural desire on the part of every parent to want what is best for their child.  However that can lead us into over-analyzing every choice and continuing to look and look for the perfect curriculum.  I heard a home school speaker long ago say that we shouldn't do that, instead we should look for one that works and stick with it.  (I think I'm quoting Mary Pride here, from her appearance at a conference about 12 years ago, but I'm not certain.)  We have definitely found that to be true.

There are many benefits to choosing one curriculum, working through it carefully and using the same program year after year.  It simplifies planning since the major choices are already made once and for all.  It eliminates gaps since curriculum is designed to cover major skills and themes over a longer term.  The approach and expectations become familiar to you and your children and you do not have to continually work out what to do next.

Having said all of that, we have never used one type of curriculum or one publisher for every subject.  I know families who do, who purchase all of A Beka at grade level for each child and work through it beginning to end, and that works very well for them.  Kudos to you if that is your method and it's working.  This is a very individual journey, and we all pick our own way to get to our own goals.

In our home, we have always used a variety of curriculum types and methods.  I like to have a structured program for math, one that I can be sure works incrementally and builds the essential skills.  We have mostly used a good books centered curriculum for language arts and history.  We have created topical studies for science in early grades and moved into a more structured program in high school years.  Language study has been very hit and miss.  We've used the same Bible curriculum since 1989, replacing it with Bible quizzing in the junior high and high school years.

The most important thing is to pick a curriculum that works for you and your family.  I plan to post about the books we are suing this year over the rest of this week, but I encourage you to create your own plan.  Our favorite supper might not please your family at all, so why would our favorite book necessarily satisfy your needs?

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