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Five Questions Every Homeschooling Mom Should Ask Before Choosing Curriculum

We are almost to the end of our homeschool year, and this is NOT the time that I want to be thinking about next years curriculum, but alas, the MassHope Convention is in town and instead of checking out and heading to the beach, I guess responsible mother’s everywhere are talking standardized testing and choosing curriculum. {ahem}

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SOO, in order to not be a total derelict mother, I humbly offer you some things to consider when choosing curriculum each year for your kids.

As far as curriculum is involved, I do believe that you can learn no matter what you are using if you want to. There is no magic curriculum. We have used nearly everything under the sun in the past 14 years of homeschooling. My oldest daughter just finished her first year at Bob Jones University and has done extremely well. In fact, she made the Dean’s list. :)

These questions are more “self awareness” questions than curriculum questions, but I think they’ll help you determine what you are looking for.

1. Figure out your personality and find a curriculum that works with it.*

Most likely, you are NOT a teacher by trade, but have found yourself teaching for whatever reason.

Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. This is half your battle.

Are you extremely structured, or do you follow a loose schedule?

Are you high strung or laid back?

Will you use real life as a teacher or books only?

Will you be home all day, or do you envision yourself visiting local resources and using hands on learning?

2. Think about your life stage and plan accordingly.

Are you in a time of transition (new baby, illness) or are things status quo?

Do you work from home and have a flexible schedule, or are you working around someone else’s time schedule?

Will sticking to a rigid lesson plan stress you out or give you a sense of security?

Does flexibility motivate you or hinder your performance?

3. Think about your family interests. Your time will be heavily weighted toward these interests and it will affect your school year. 

Expect that you’ll invest more time than other families in these areas and be okay with that.

Then, when you hear that one family grinds their own wheat and makes all their own bread from wheat they grew in their back yard and milled with a mortar and pestle, you will understand that their interests are heavily weighted toward those things and there is no need for guilt or comparison on your part.

Do you all love history or politics? Do you value art and music?

Know your interests and realize that they may change over time as your kids grow and express new interests.

4. Decide what you want from education. Begin with the end in mind.

Do you envision your kids as Harvard Grads?

Are you looking to develop the child as a whole: mind, body, spirit?

For us, we wanted to be sure that our kids did not reflect our current culture. We were appalled by the norms of young society/pop culture and realized that you can’t send them into that for 8 hours a day and have it not effect them.

We wanted our kids to love to read and be life long learners, so our choices reflected our long term goals.

5. Decide what is reasonable.

You cannot do everything, so decide what you can teach well and plan to get help with the rest. Kahn Academy, the internet, DVD’s, tutors, co-ops and other helps are readily available for home schoolers. Don’t feel bad about using them!

This generation has seen a shift in education since the rise of the internet. Today’s education is more about self education than ever before and part of teaching kids to be successful in the modern world is teaching them to know how to use the internet as a resource.

In our day, when you needed to research a topic, you trudged to the library unless you were lucky enough to own an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica. It is different today. They don’t look to teachers as sources of knowledge like they did in our day. Good teachers teach them where to look. :)

 

I know that this list is incomplete!  :)

Your turn! Please share any other self-awareness questions that you have found helpful when determining what curriculum to choose for your family? Feel free to share in the comments or to link to an article that you have written on the subject.

*Note: Just for clarity and communication between “adjoining nations”:  Hmschlers tend to use the word “curriculum” to mean the actual tool you’ll use to teach a subject that needs to be covered. So when I say I will use what works for us, I mean that I will choose a publisher who teaches the topic in a way that works for us as a family; I do not mean that we will pick and choose what we need to learn w/o regard for state law.  State and local laws DO set the norms for what is to be covered as a whole, which is what public school systems understand the word “curriculum” to mean. Mkay? 😉