How to Pick the Perfect Curriculum
by Kyndra Steinmann
It’s February and all my homeschool groups are full of comments and posts about finding the perfect curriculum for next year! From veteran homeschoolers to moms who pulled their children out of school at Christmas, all are feeling the pinch of winter weather and finding that school is more of a slog than was envisioned.
I’ve been thinking about the perfect curriculum and what it entails. How can a mother find the curriculum that will fit with the flow of their household, teach the children what they want and need to know, and silence all the critics (including her own heart). That’s a tall order for a set of books and/or videos and a definition for the perfect curriculum is the first step:
The perfect curriculum is the one that helps you, help your child build up his weaknesses and maximize his strengths.
Isn’t that what we are truly after? Aren’t we trying to find a way to give our children knowledge and the tools to use that knowledge and even add to it?
The truth is that curriculum is just a handy way of saying “ a set of materials designed to increase someone’s ability to learn or teach”. In order to pick or assemble one I need to take an honest and compassionate look at my strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of my students.
An Honest Look:
- What do I like to teach? What do I dread teaching? Do I prefer to sit with each student individually or to group them where possible? Is there enough time in the day to sit with each one? Do I see myself as the teacher imparting knowledge to (hopefully) eager minds? Do I think of homeschooling as a journey that my child and I are partnering in?
- What does my child like to do in his spare time? What are his natural aptitudes? Are there things he will never do without being told? Can he work independently or does his level of maturity and ability mean that he needs my full attention during lessons? Where do I want his character to develop and how can academics help get him there?
- What weaknesses do I see? Are those weaknesses that will make adult life harder? Can they be overcome or do I need to teach coping mechanisms (for instance my slightly disgraphic child is taking typing)
A Compassionate Look:
- Where is my frustration level with my child’s weaknesses? Am I still grieving them? How does my attitude towards his struggles inform his soul?
- Is my child frustrated with a particular subject? Is there a way to move gently and slowly and build confidence? Will the book I am looking at overwhelm or build up?
- How can I build up my child while acknowledging the truth of his struggles? How can I encourage both of us to notice the growth no matter how incremental?
These are the things that I think about when I consider textbooks and lessons for the next year. I write down what I see and how I’d like to work with strengths and weaknesses. I’ve come to accept that sometimes the books I look at and know that I would enjoy, are not the right books for my children, and may never be. I take notes throughout the school year, jotting them down when I collect the completed assignment sheets each week, and use those notes to guide my choices the following year. Most of all I accept that where my curriculum comes from and what it looks like will vary from year to year and child to child praying each year that I will find the materials that will enable us to build and grow together.
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.