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My Quest for the Perfect Cirriculum

All-in-one Curriculum Workbooks

All-in-One Curriculum Workbooks: This book works very well with my son. It is concise.  It is not overly repetitious and has very little coloring (which he does not like),

 

When I first set out to homeschool, I thought choosing curriculum would be simple. First, you figure out the subject you want to teach.  Then you find some textbooks.  Then you purchase the textbooks… done!.  After all, I was the product of a public school education.  All we had were textbooks.  In elementary school, we received workbooks and maybe a few textbooks in the later grades.  In middle and high school we received a textbook for almost every class (art, music, and PE were the exceptions). Every year on the first day of school, my teacher’s would dole out these archaic and out-of-date (and often out of print) books.  Then upon my return home, my mother would create these magnificent brown paper bag textbook covers (thus preserving the book for future students).   The publishers of these books were almost always the same McGraw-Hill, Pretence Hall or Houghton Mifflin.

To my amazement, my homeschooling curriculum options were not limited to three publishers but hundreds.  Very quickly, I became inundated with resources and materials. It was overwhelming.  There were secular homeschooling materials, religious materials, materials that were workbook based and other programs that centered upon hands-on learning and manipulatives. You could learn science from reading a book or from doing a different experiment every day of the year!  I remember thinking that it was all too much for me and that I needed help from an expert.  With this in mind, I signed up for my first homeschooling conference.

I attended, hoping to have my question answered: What curriculum was the best?  I wanted a curriculum that would be easy to teach and easy for students to follow.  I wanted books and programs that were all inclusive; I didn’t want my daughter to miss out on anything.  I wanted to know the best reading, writing, grammar, spelling, science, math, and foreign language programs.  I figured that if anyone could help me in this endeavor, it would be veteran, homeschooling moms.

Although the conference was a success, I did not get a simple answer to my question. I remember listening to these experienced homeschooling mother’s talk about their curriculum experience: how they had used one language arts program one year and then switched to another for a year or two and then to another program after that.  They curriculum hopped more than a child does who’s suffering from a severe Halloween sugar rush.  When asked if they could name their favorite science program, they rattled off five.  For reading programs, they rattled off fifteen. Mathematics programs were by far the worse, no two parents ever named the same math program; everyone used something different.

I remember thinking that all of these resources must have been absolutely terrible.  If they were so great, why were parents constantly switching publishers, textbooks, and learning programs? Thankfully this is not the case, as I soon discovered at the used curriculum fair.  Feeling hopeless I wondered into the fair.  Used and new educational materials covered table after table, in the church’s small social hall.  The books, textbooks, workbooks, CD’s, DVD’s and other learning programs looked nothing like the material I had seen online or at my local bookstore.  This curriculum was fun, engaging and highly educational.  I soon realized that my quest to find the perfect curriculum was unnecessary.  All of these resources were more than adequate and by far exceeded all of the textbooks I had used in school.  One of the most valuable skills a librarian can have is the ability to evaluate books expeditiously and accurately and here at the fair, I quickly put this skill to good use.  From what I summarized, most if not all of these books, workbooks, textbooks and learning programs were well written, balanced, useful, age-appropriate and overall great educational resources.  With a lighter heart and spirit, I meandered around the room, browsed curriculum and in the end, purchased what I thought would work best in educating my daughter.

Abeka Arthimetic Grade 2

Abeka Arthimetic Grade 2 Student Book: Abeka is highly repetitious, which works very well with my daughter’s learning style. My daughter and I both like how social studies and geography are incorporated into the different lessons.

I bought a little of everything that day (workbooks, all-in-one curriculum books, textbooks, DVD’s etc) and years later not much has changed (I’m always on the look-out for great teaching resources).  We have a tendency to keep and stick with the books and programs that work best for my children and replace the ones that do not.  For while there is no perfect curriculum, there are some products and publishers that are better than others.

I have come to accept the fact that there is no “perfect” curriculum.  Now, what I strive for is finding the best resources that will help my child learn and grow.  I think of my child first and the curriculum second.   I look to see how my child learns best and I work from there.  If my child learns through repetition, I look for resources that are highly repetitive.  If my child is a good listener, I buy the audiobook version of a book as well as the print version.

It is up to me, as a good teacher, to use what works best, but also to let go of the things that do not.  If we purchase a product that is not working for us, we switch to something else. From year to year, our curriculum changes, the publishers change and sometimes even our approach changes (sometimes we lean more towards Charlotte Mason and sometimes we lean more towards classical).  I have become what I had feared; a homeschooler that “curriculum” hops. But I now know that this is nothing to be fearful of, for I believe these qualities, an open mind, an adventurous spirit and the desire to never settle, make the best homeschoolers and the best teachers.

Magic School Bus Phonics Set

The Magic School Bus Phonics Reading Program: My daughter loves the Magic School Bus, so when I found these at the thrift store, I knew I had to buy them. This set has been a great supplement to our regular phonics program (mainly because she reads them every chance she gets).

 

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