It can be easy to allow yourself to become a slave to your homeschool curriculum or to waste time and money trying to find the perfect curriculum. The truth is, though, there isn’t that one piece of perfect curriculum that’s going to meet all the needs of every homeschooling family. There is very little on our school shelf that we use exactly as it is presented.
Rather than seeking the illusive perfect curriculum, it’s usually much simpler to find the best – not perfect – fit and and make it work for you. So, how do you go about making curriculum work for you?
1. Throw out what doesn’t work. I really love the way the History Odyssey books are laid out, but some of the research and writing projects are really complex for my dyslexic daughter. Then there is the fact that we’re using Institute for Excellence in Writing and having two writing assignments from two different sources would probably be enough to send her completely over the edge.
So, while we use History Odyssey, I rarely have Brianna do the writing assignments, but she does nearly all of the map work, outlines, reading, and other assignments directly related to the study of history, making the most out of the curriculum without allowing it to become a source of drudgery.
2. Use it as a spine or guide. Maybe you need some direction in a certain subject, knowing what to cover and in what general order, but you don’t like the details of a certain curriculum’s lesson plans. If the information is solid, you can still use the curriculum as your guide, while teaching the information in the way that best suits your family.
Let’s say that you’re teaching math to your Kindergartener and you’d rather not use a workbook approach. You could still follow the order of ideas presented in the workbook of a solid math program, but teach the concepts in more low-key, hands-on ways, such as counting beans together or sorting buttons.
3. Don’t do all of the problems. You’re the teaching parent. You get to decide what constitutes an assignment. Nothing says that your child has to do every single problem or fill in every single blank on a page. Remember high school math? You may have been assigned all the odd problems or all the even, but I rarely remember having to actually do every single problem…thank goodness!
Though we’re currently using Teaching Textbooks, we used and loved Horizons math for many years. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that there were frequently a lot of problems on a page. Unless it was a new concept, my kids knew they only had to do half the problems. If it was clear from those problems that they understood the concept, they were done. If they were struggling, we’d use the other half of the problems as extra practice that I would usually do with them.
4. Modify it to meet your child’s learning needs. Do you like everything about a certain curriculum except that it has so much written work that it overwhelms your child? Do the work orally or together on the white board. Not enough reading for your voracious reader? Supplement with books related to the topic. Got a kid that wants to know all the how’s and why’s? Add in some research projects.
Often a curriculum choice will meet your basic needs, so it may only take a few simple tweaks to make it the perfect fit for your family. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make the curriculum your own.
5. Make it more hands-on. You know I’m a big fan of hands-on projects. I know that not everyone is, but if you are, it’s easy to make most homeschool curriculum more hands-on. You can add in a baking project (always fun because you don’t have to find a place to store your completed project) or a craft, put on a puppet show or assemble a presentation for Dad.
You can even write the answers to math fact on a separate sheet of paper, cut the sheets with the answers and the problems into squares and let your child match them up. You can also turn just about anything into a bingo or board game.
What are some of the modifications your family has made to make your homeschool curriculum work for you?
photo credit horiavarlan on flickr