“…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 experience, finding that perfect curriculum will be as elusive as the Rosetta Stone. Wait, I saw the Rosetta Stone in a London museum. Okay, it’ll be as elusive as my attempt to write this simile.
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.
Choose curriculum for a specific child.
You’re choosing to educate a child, not an anonymous roomful of children. Keep the child in mind. (Halfway through the study season, your child might get bored with the curriculum. That’s okay. And so might you. That’s okay too. You also may have learned that you bought a whole bunch of stuff that you like, but your child does not. Lesson learned: you’ll continue to learn about how she learns. Your starting point should be your child.
Observe their learning tendencies.
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 with others at co-op? Does she prefer games?
You might discover that your child does not prefer to be self-directed. Or you find she never wants direction at all.
We learn many things about our children and how they learn too. Just as we learned there is no textbook to parenting, there’s no textbook to home educating. (Okay, actually, there are, but they weren’t written for your child.)
What are your child’s interests?
Perhaps he’s really interested in dinosaurs. Could you add dinosaurs, subtract dinosaurs, read about dinosaurs? Does he like to draw? Draw dinosaurs. Paper mache? (Ha, good luck cleaning that up.) Do you like to bake? Shape salty pretzels into dinosaur shapes. Unit studies of nearly every topic are easy to find. Incorporate their interests, and they’ll engage more closely.
Spend a lot of money, waste a lot of money.
I know there’s a library around the corner, there are a roomful of boxes with curriculum I’ve purchased in my early years homeschooling, and there are more online resources than I’ll ever need. Maybe the kids are tired of reading our Apologia Aquatic book, and they want to pursue a little anatomy. We can do that, and later on, we can 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.