Because my focus is not so much to do school but to disciple my children I want to choose resources that enable me to do so. Though I buy curriculum I tend to use the word resources as this helps me look broader than a set curriculum that gives lesson plans and covers all.
Books are my first and foremost resource – I look for books to teach my children everything (though at times we need to learn to get our head out of books and enjoy the real world around us!!). The library is a wonderful ally. When I see an academic need in my children I check out the books on my own bookshelf first, and then the library and then the homeschool suppliers or internet. I also keep an eye out at the Christian Bookshop too. I have found many books – both picture books and chapter books, along with music to support many of the themes/topics we have studied.
Life itself is a wonderful resource that will educate your children. As you spend time with your children and especially as you talk and talk and talk with your children you will impart to them a deep education that is based on values and life skills.
As your children get older they may attend seminars and workshops, along with any adult who wants to improve their understanding on a particular topic. The community is full of learning opportunities and people who are happy to impart their knowledge to your children. We need to tap into these resources.
There is also a place for Curriculum. I use several, have tried or used many others. Before I look at curriculum I ask myself
These questions are valid for the veteran homeschooler as well as those just starting out. We must recognize that our children grow and that family dynamics change. A curriculum choice we make today may not be the best in a years time and yet we need to keep a balance between being flexible and going with change and being good stewards. Investigating thoroughly will help you keep that balance.
It is important that the resources that we choose are based on Biblical foundations and principles but they do not have to be Christian in content, nor published by Christians (though mostly will be). We need to look for resources that support the essence of what we want our children to grasp in their education. To our family this has been
I find curriculum written by homeschool families to be far easier to integrate into my family life than those written by professionals. It is worth considering when you are making a curriculum choice. Who wrote it?
These expectations of the author have a direct implication on the ease to use even if you do use it as a “classroom” resource with you upfront teaching. There are underlying expectations when you read a curriculum and these will either work for us or against us.
For example: I love the idea of learning centers. Corners set up in the classroom that involve a lot of role play and interaction with real life situations, such as banking, or cooking, or posting a letter. Early in my homeschool journey I was so excited about this learning tool that I set out and planned 3 different learning centers that I could create. The plan was I would make one center during each of the school holidays and the kids would play at banking or shopping for a term. I caught myself at the bank one day explaining to my children what the tellers were doing. It dawned on me that I didn’t need to create a bank environment in my home, so the children could learn about banking – they were here with me! But that is exactly (though fairly overtly) what many school resources will do to us. They will plant an expectation for us to create and teach our children beyond what is necessary (or viable) in family life.
Before you purchase anything you must know the situation you want to use it for. Which child are you considering this curriculum for? Or maybe you want it for the whole family?
When you know the focus for each of your children, when you know where they are at developmentally, you can ensure that what you buy suits their needs as an individual. The Discipleship Scope and Sequence helps you keep the balance between life/discipleship and academics. The Development of an Independent Learner guides you in the skills that you should be focusing on with each of your children. These guides aren’t necessarily guiding you in content but rather in skills and focus. This helps us keep academic content in its right place in our family life.
Though I struggle with boxing my children I have found it helpful to understand temperaments, learning styles, and to acknowledge any learning difficulties. Whenever I consider these things it is always with the understanding that the Holy Spirit is there to help us learn and grow, with the ultimate goal to become more and more like Jesus.
With the explosion of online support for the homeschool mum, it is important that when we talk to other mums that we don’t fall into the trap of “because it worked for you it will work for me”. So I ask these questions:
When I ask these questions I can start to consider the real things that affect the success of a curriculum or resource in our home.
For help sorting through homeschool curriculum and resources, visit Homeschool-Curriculum.org.
I recommend these following resources to you as you discover your own philosophy of education, and how that is going to look in terms of curriculum and resource choices. I encourage you to fill your days with Relationship Based Activities until you have a clear understanding of how you want to go forward.
For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School (Child-Life Book) (Child-Life Book) – this was the first homeschool book I read. The gentle, relational approach struck a chord in my heart.
The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach: Bible Based Homeschooling – This book is a wonderful resource one I recommend you read even if you don’t intend to use any HOW units. This is a stand alone book that will prepare you as a homeschool mum – not only for curriculum choices but more importantly your philosophy of education. (Don’t be scared by that word “philosophy” it just means “What you believe”!) Read Heart of Wisdom’s own Review and link to e-book.
Educating the Wholehearted Child Revised & Expanded – this is a very practical book that has been like a handbook to me. It lays out many homeschool choices and helps you through the maze, though the authors take a discipleship approach themselves. Visit Sally Clarkson’s Website
Every Child Can Succeed - this book has helped me identify both my learning styles and my children’s. I particularly appreciate Cynthia’s approach to making excuses (or rather not making excuses) and motivating our children. She simply comes from the perspective of understanding our children and using that information to help them succeed.
Live life with your kids!
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