Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials ~ Curriculum

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5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials Day 4: Curriculum

If you're a homeschooler you need books, right? Choosing the perfect curriculum can be quite a daunting task. With so many choices these days, how can one possibly know which to choose? Well, today I am sharing a few things I have learned over the past decade about curriculum and how my views have changed somewhat over the course of our adventure.

For the first few years of homeschooling, curriculum choice weighed heavily upon my heart. I felt that one wrong choice could ruin my kids for life! Totally not true, huh? Fortunately, most of my fears about carrying the weight of my kids' education on my shoulders has subsided. I feel quite free now when it comes to choosing curriculum, but I still have a few basic curriculum essentials.
1. Curriculum by Subject: It has always been important to me to pick and choose curriculum based on each individual subject rather than to choose one major curriculum that covers all subjects, like a curriculum-in-a-box type of thing. Extra work? Maybe. But it helps me stay in budget and cater to the specific needs of my children.
Here's how I do it: During each summer, I make a list of subjects for each of my kids that they will need for the next school year. Mostly, the subjects stay the same like Math, English, History, Science, etc. I do make room for changes and extra curricular subjects, too, as this changes based on grade my child is in (and I use the word grade lightly here) and new interests and such.
2. Strong Curriculum Core: For our main subjects like Math, English, Science, History, and Spelling, I do like to have a backbone of quality products that I can continue to use with each of my children. Here's what's stood the test of time in our home for our core subjects:

Math - Math U See

History - Mystery of History

Science - Apologia

English - First Language Lessons (1st - 2nd grade)

Bob Jones (middle school)

Spelling - Wise Guide for Spelling/Spell to Write and Read
I've already written a post about this, so if you are interested click the link. :)
The above materials are just the basics. We have quite a hodge podge of other books and supplemental materials ~ I feel more homeschool posts coming on!
3. Curriculum Flexibility: While having a strong core is essential for me, flexibility is equally as important. With my personality type, I can tend to become a slave to whatever curriculum we are using meaning if we don't check off every single assignment and project, I feel like a big, fat failure. When I give in to that temptation, I know homeschooling has become all about me and meeting my presumed needs and wants instead of focusing on what's important. I am pretty much over all that after all these years, but I do keep my guard up to keep it from consuming me once again. :)

Being a part of the Schoolhouse Review has really helped me in the flexibility area. I have to constantly add to or readjust our current homeschool routine in order to incorporate new things. Challenging sometimes? Yes. But, my kids and I have had the opportunity to be exposed to SO MANY great books, programs, curriculum, and what not. It's also opened my eyes to lots of different learning styles. I started out gung ho on a Classical education. I am still very partial to it, but that style didn't leave a whole lot of room for flexibility and creativity. Interrupting our curriculum schedule to do a unit study or focusing on something that my child is really interested in at the moment gives us a break and breaks up the monotony a bit.
4. Use-What-You-Have-Curriculum: Totally essential in our homeschool. I've never had the liberty to buy whatever my homeschooling heart desires. We have to use what we have on hand, and I have to pass down previously used books to younger children. Usually, if my kids don't like a certain a certain subject's curriculum, well, it's just too bad. We muddle through until the next year. What I have learned to do is be flexible within the curriculum. For instance, if my child is struggling with writing a personal narrative for English, but he has an awesome idea for a fiction piece, I may let him change the assignment. The Internet and the library have really been a huge help for filling in gaps and for letting my children explore personal interests.
 What are your curriculum essentials?
5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew to read about more homeschool essentials! Continue reading by checking out some of the lovely blogs below . . .
Lisa @ A Rup Life
Jordyn @ Almost Supermom
Jenn @ Teaching Two Stinkers
Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy {Giveaways this week}
Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds Happiness
Jodi @ Insane in the Mombrain
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles


Kym said...

I do many of the same things as you do when choosing curriculum. Whenever possible, I like to choose non-consumable curriculum. Sometimes it's more expensive, but considering that I can use it over and over again and pass it along to another homeschool family when we're finished with it, it's actually more bang for my limited homeschool bucks!

Lynn said...

we love Apologia and Mystery of History too. Thanks for sharing your post. Very informative

zekesmom10 said...

I have a few core curriculum items we are sticking with for the time being too. I sort of wish we could afford an all-in-one, but picking and choosing what truly suits us probably works as well or better for us.

Joelle said...

Love the way you broke down how to handle curriculum. Very helpful.


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