I’ve always been resistant to answering the question, how do I choose the best curriculum for my homeschool? because though I do use curriculum, I don’t think there is one right book or one right way to tackle any subject.
I don’t think in grades or meeting regional learning outcomes, so I don’t assume there is one right curriculum to choose.
So what do you ask yourself to choose the best curriculum for your homeschool?
Why does anyone want to choose the best curriculum for your homeschool anyway?
Likely most people would answer: so I can satisfy my region’s learning outcomes (those written expectations that schools have for children to move from grade to grade).
If I moved to a different province or state, there would be different expectations, different learning outcomes, and different ideas about what knowledge is necessary for a great education.
Different regions choose different knowledge tidbits as important for a great education.
It makes sense to me that students in Ghana would learn about their pre-colonial history, their colonial history, and their post-colonial history. Seems appropriate that they recognize their present freedoms and wonder how they might ensure continued freedoms in the future.
And it makes sense to me, as a Canadian, that we consider the oppressive effects residential schools had on indigenous people.
But as you can imagine, I’d be awfully surprised that a child in Ghana would be intimately familiar with a discussion on residential schools in Canada. Though it would be awfully surprising that a child in Canada would be intimately familiar with a discussion on colonial history in Ghana.
A regional difference.
So we choose different books, curricula, resources, documentaries, and courses to dig deep into things that have value and meaning for our part of the world.
Just as we choose curricula for different regions, we also choose different curricula for different children.
I’ve come to understand that it is my choice (& my husband’s) that most impacts how we approach an education.
Whatever way seems most right, based on my past experience of an education, my husband’s past experience of an education, and what makes sense to us right now, becomes our educational focus.
Naturally, this can change. And always does. (My philosophical approach has shifted so many times. And it’s why I don’t think it is necessary to settle on one right homeschool philosophy).
What has most influenced my choice of curriculum is the child in front of me.
Each of my children is like a Christmas gift under the tree. They’re beautiful packages I get to open on Christmas morning. I don’t know what’s in them, but I anticipate the excitement about unwrapping them and discovering what I’ve been given.
Except that they’re Christmas gifts given without instructions.
I don’t get an instruction manual and I don’t even entirely know what their purpose is. That is a life work in progress.
I begin the work of unraveling that over the course of two decades and somewhere in the second decade, that child begins to take ownership of unraveling that purpose themselves too.
So my choice in curriculum ultimately lies in observing what my specific child might need to learn right now, and how they might like to learn right now.
Most importantly, the children’s interests lead to my choice of curricula.
If my child shows an innate interest in the British monarchy, logic games, or zoology, I wander into those sections of the library, curriculum fair, local bookstore, or Amazon.
I listen to the questions they ask all day long. The questions don’t stop when they’re three, though there aren’t nearly as many whys as there were when they were three.
- Mom, do these bugs grow in the dirt?
- How does the baby grow in the mommy’s tummy, if the tummy digests food?
- How did they know that the earth revolved around the sun, and not the sun around the moon?
Some answers I know, some answers Galileo determined, and I can always Google to find out.
Some of their questions are passing thoughts and some of their questions point to a present interest that they might like to dig deep into.
Listening intently to the questions helps me determine how I approach curriculum purchasing.
The beauty of focussing curriculum purchases on a specific child is these:
- Because their full attention is present.
- No need to attempt to entice them to pay attention.
- It doesn’t take much effort to include other topics in the initial topic either. If she’s interested in baseball, I can have a discussion on statistics (RBIs….), discussion on physics (how fast is that ball going or what propels it from one angle to the next), the history of baseball, and any relevant events during that period (what was happening to baseball during WWII). It’s possible to approach pretty much any topic in this manner.
Will this mean I don’t cover regional learning outcomes?
I’ll likely hit some and I likely won’t hit others.
This approach will cover a whole bunch of things that the school curriculum hasn’t valued. This approach will mean that my child won’t hit learning outcomes necessarily at the same time as his/her student counterparts.
And my child might hit them earlier too. Like world economics, like international diplomacy, like earthquakes in Bangladesh…sounds like a high school level social studies course.
In our house, it’s dinner time.
Naturally, what I choose to buy or borrow is influenced heavily by my children’s interests.
With four children, that’s a lot of interests.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”Albert Einstein
Reimagine your Homeschool Workbook
Introducing the Reimagine Your Homeschool Workbook! Reflect on the past year, assess what worked and what didn’t, and build the homeschool you truly want. Evaluate curriculum, routine, philosophy, and plan for the future. Get renewed inspiration and fresh ideas.
People also ask:
- Do you do one-on-one homeschooling coaching?
- 5 suggestions about buying a new curriculum
- when you buy new homeschool curriculum: 5 clever suggestions
- Curriculum Compass: Expert Guidelines for Choosing the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum
- imagination is more important than knowledge
- homeschooling in British Columbia: how to do it & What are the options
- How to Deal with Unrealistic Expectations as Homeschool Mamas