Choosing Homeschool Curriculum: Introduction
© Beverley Paine 2011
Finding the 'right' curriculum can be daunting, more so because we have a plethora of choices. Time isn't always on our side either: within days or weeks of making the decision to home educate, we feel compelled to choose a curriculum to satisfy the regulatory authority, or perhaps to reassure our spouses and extended family.
No matter what the circumstances, the key to confidently choosing a homeschool curriculum is to be informed and open to a little bit of experimenting. It will take time to find the 'right' curriculum or resources for your family. In the meantime you need to be observant, reflective, flexible and adaptive, and prepared to take notes as you collect your thoughts together. It is easy to panic during this stage and feel like you are not at all qualified to teach your children, but be reassured: as time passes you'll discover effective teaching tools that work well with each of your children and you will become more experienced and confident as a home educator.
The information in this booklet has been prepared as a general guide, a starting place to launch your exploration of some of the many choices available to you. It includes:
Some questions to consider:
What type of home educator are you?
You will also need to do some personal reflection. What type of home educator are you? A teacher, mentor, co-learner, or facilitator who helps the child find their own resources? Most of us tend to be a little bit of everything and a lot depends on the nature and learning styles of the children. Life is a wonderful educator and the world is full of amazing resources and there is plenty of help available from other homeschooling families to get you started.
Would you be more comfortable designing and using a flexible curriculum of your own, working with the children in a hands-on way? Most parents new to homeschooling don't realise they are able to create their own learning programs, expecting that they will need to purchase a curriculum for their child to use. Others prefer to set and teach step-by-step lessons and find it reassuring to follow a scope and sequence already worked out for them. Both approaches are okay - whatever works for you and your family.
As you read through the most popular homeschooling methods described later in this series of articles, questions will help guide you to discovering what type of curriculum approach suits you best. See also my article on What it Means for the Parent, part 1 and part 2.
Popular homeschooling methods:
The curriculum you ultimately choose will depend on your values and lifestyle choices, how involved you want to be in the day-to-day teaching of the children, your personal understanding of education and its role in your lives, and what and how you want your children to learn.
Click here for a quick summary of the popular homeschooling methods or continue to read this series of articles on Choosing Curriculum for a more in-depth discussion.
See also Homeschooling Approaches and Methods
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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