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First Steps to Planning Your Curriculum

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By Beverly S. Krueger

I’ve spent time over the last few weeks talking with a potential homeschool mom and a seasoned homeschool mom about possible curriculum choices for their homeschooling. The discussions have been very similar and have centered on diversity. Homeschoolers are a diversified bunch. We’re not that easy to put into pigeonholes despite our penchant for labeling ourselves as unschoolers or unit studiers. Perhaps that’s why many gravitate to the eclectic appellation. The word “eclectic” over the years has never failed to bring to my mind Tom Hanks as Forest Grump talking about how his momma always told him life was like a box of chocolates.

My homeschooling style is like a Whitman’s Sampler, some creams, some nuts, a few chews, and the requisite caramels. My family is like that, too. We’re organized and disorganized, visual and hands-on, fiction and non-fiction readers, early to rise—well, no, none of us is early to rise by choice. But you get my drift. We’re all different, including mom and dad.

As our children get older, they begin to sound off more on what they like and don’t like about our homeschooling, and a wise homeschool parent pays attention. Sure, you ignore some things, because even if you sympathize, your kids still have eventually to learn their math facts. I know that even unschoolers stress about this, because it was a running joke amongst the older homeschoolers at an unschool convention I attended, how all their parents had bought them learning wrap-ups to help them learn their math facts. Ignoring all the input from your kids on what they like and don’t like about their homeschool resources is a mistake. You may never find a math text that makes your child laugh with delight when you say it’s time to do math, but you might eliminate a text that causes more problems than it should.

The key to choosing the right curriculum for your home and your child is to do some mental homework. If you don’t understand what’s meant by learning styles, do some reading. Spend time thinking about how your child tackles their daily work. Where do they excel? Where do they falter? Why do they falter? Are you expecting your child to use resources that appeal to your preferred way to learn or to teach? If you took yourself out of the equation, what would work best for your child? Is it possible for you to go outside your comfort zone to make learning easier for your child? Spend time thinking about each of your children and about how you like to homeschool. Labeling a child as naughty because he resists doing things your way ignores the fact that there is something significantly distressing to your child to make him prefer to disobey and be punished than to comply. If this is routine, you need to figure out why. How you homeschool and the curriculum you use may be a part of the why.

So many times, we look at curriculum first rather than thinking about what our children need to learn next and how they need to learn it. By spending time in prayerful thought, you can gain insights that will help you determine what you should use in your homeschooling. Knowing better what your child needs can help you eliminate a wide swath of resources that you won’t have to spend time researching and examining.

Copyright ©  2009 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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