Friday, November 30, 2012

The Wonderful World of Curriculum!

The world of curriculum, for the new homeschooling parent, is a bit say the least…

It is kind of like trying to figure out which PARTICULAR ice cream flavour you prefer…and we all know how everyone likes their special brand of ice cream…

“You know me, just plain vanilla for our family.”

“I don’t even know how ANYone can use anything but chocolate.”

“A bit of butterscotch, choco-mint chip, and a side of whatever else is available...this is what works for our brood!”

When I first decided that I wanted to homeschool, there came the question….so which curriculum do we wanna use?

I went to the local Convention for Homeschoolers…I talked to vendors, experienced Moms, other teachers & educators...I ordered books on homeschooling....I visited our local library and re-searched some more...I read website reviews and blog articles…I still was not 100% convinced of what I wanted to use for our family; what was actually the RIGHT choice for us??

I found the more I shared my thoughts with other families, the more I started to doubt myself. I still did not have strong convictions on why we were choosing homeschooling, and that led to a non-committal attitude towards any ONE homeschool philosophy.

In case you are new like I was, you may not even realize that there ARE various homeschool philosophies...

Such as: Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, Accelerated Learning, Programs Similar to Regular School (not too popular), Montessori, Eclectic, and more!

As I learned the jargon, and learned which curriculum matched a particular philosophy, it helped me to understand more of what I was ‘wading around’ in.

Of course, I am oversimplifying things…but at the beginning of our journey it was all confusing to me!

So in the end I made my decision. I found it wasn’t popular with the majority of homeschoolers I met. But then again, the reasons why we choose to homeschool were often not the same....

For us the adventure began because....

We had moved too far away from our church’s Christian school…

We didn’t feel like the drive was worth it if I couldn’t work in the same area…

We did want to see if there would be ANY academic benefit to me helping our children individually…

And lastly, there always seemed to be a lack of time together when our kids went to the school. For that I blame myself & my husband, our busy lifestyles, and overburdened schedules.

So for now, we have decided to continue with the same curriculum the Christian school our children attended have used….Accelerated Christian Education.

A.C.E. curriculum comes in small booklets (called PACES), and consists of 12 paces for each subject per year. They are easy to read, easy to follow, yet challenging enough that it keeps the child stimulated as they build upon each unit.

It is not perfect by any stretch…but it allows me to:

-have more free time, as this system teaches children to be independent learners

-have a goal set for each day, easy to measure and promotes a hard-work ethic

-they have tests at the end of each unit: so it is easy for me to evaluate if they have mastered the material (I realize that is not the goal for each homeschooling parent, however I find it useful to see that our time is being well utilized)

I DO supplement the material with:

-story time with all the children (on topics that encourage character development)

-hikes, and other educational outings

-regular times at our local library

-social meetings with our local chapter of homeschoolers

-times on the internet (guided by Mom) to learn how to safely navigate the web to find information or educational games

-gym & physical activity (outdoors in nicer weather; indoors otherwise)

-music and dance opportunities through regular extracurricular activities

I believe this year my children have had a fairly well-rounded education. However, I already see the temptation to compare ourselves to others, and feel like we ‘somehow don’t measure up’.

I am learning, as I recommend to ALL new homeschoolers, to lighten up on yourself. Most of all…enjoy the journey! One day and one step at a time.

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