homeschool planning / self-directed learning / what is an education

5 suggestions about buying new curriculum

“…education doesn’t need to be reformed–it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” Sir Ken Robinson, “The Element”

If that be so, then the hunt for the perfect curriculum will not be required. And in my humble experience, it will be as elusive as the Rosetta Stone. Wait, I saw the Rosetta Stone in a London museum. No, it’ll be as elusive as the Stonehenge. No, that’s in the British countryside. Okay, it’ll be as elusive as my attempt to write this simile.

1. Much curriculum exists. Perfect curriculum does not. One can learn snippets of information from textbooks and Wikipedia. Details about history is found in biographies and memoirs. Behaviour patterns about the natural world are learned through experimentation and observation. Skills are learned by practice in apprenticeship positions. Creativity is enabled by solitude, mixed with play. But a perfect curriculum, you’re not going to find it.

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2. Choose curriculum for a specific child. You’re choosing to educate a child, not an anonymous roomful of children. Keep the child in mind. And you’re right–halfway through the study season, your child might get bored with their original choice. And so might you. You also may have learned that you bought a whole bunch of stuff that you like, not your child. This is not all bad. They might enjoy it, because they enjoy sharing in your enthusiasm. But your starting point should be your child.

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3. Watch them learn. Pay attention to how they approach their learning. Does your child prefer reading on her own? Reading with you? Completing workbook pages? Working together with you or at co-ops? Are games compelling? You might discover that self-directed learning was a parental dream, not your child’s reality; one that they’re not ready for yet. Yup, we learn many things about our children and how they learn. Just as you learned there is no textbook to parenting, there’s no textbook to home educating. Okay, actually, there might be. But they weren’t written for your child.

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4. What are his interests? You don’t have to choose interests entirely within their realm. You can incorporate yours too. Perhaps he’s really interested in dinosaurs. Could you add dinosaurs, subtract dinosaurs, read about dinosaurs? Do you like to draw? Draw dinosaurs. Paper mache? Mwahaha, good luck cleaning that up. Do you like to bake? Shape salty pretzels into dinosaur shapes. Unit studies of nearly every topic is easy to find. Incorporate their interests, and you’ll keep their attention longer.

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5. Spend a lot of money, waste a lot of money. Because I get no governmental dollars for my children’s academic education, I spend less. I know there’s a library around the corner, there are a roomful of boxes with curriculum I’ve purchased years before, and there are more on-line resources than I’ll ever need. Maybe the kids are tired of reading the Apologia Aquatic book, and they want to pursue a little anatomy. Do that. But later on, go back to it.


I love sifting through books and curriculum, games and tables of homeschool offerings. For the few years our kids are with us, we’ll personalize an education, help them build achievement and build on their individual talents. And we’ll try, just try, to choose the best curriculum for them.

5 thoughts on “5 suggestions about buying new curriculum

  1. When we started homeschooling last year, I spent ages searching for the best curriculum. It was an excruciating process, and although I liked parts of many of them, there was no complete curriculum which was a good fit for us. Eventually I just made my own out of bits and pieces.

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