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[Book Excerpt] Homeschool Curriculum That's Effective and Fun!

~ A word from our founder, The HomeScholar Emeritus, Lee Binz ~

This is a chapter from my book, Homeschool Curriculum That's Effective and Fun: Avoid the Crummy Curriculum Hall of Shame! You can get your own copy in print or Kindle version here.

Stick with What Works 

The most important general strategy for choosing curriculum is to stick with the curriculum that works. When you identify something that works (whether it's baking brownies at the end of a hard workday or sipping a latte to get started in the morning), it's what you need to do to survive. A curriculum is like that too; use what works.

If your homeschool curriculum has been working all along, keep using it. Stick with it and don't make a change. No matter how beautiful the green grass looks on the other side of the fence, you have no guarantee that shiny new curriculum is going to work. All you know for sure is that your curriculum is working for your child. Even though another curriculum seems to work great for your best friend's kids, that doesn't mean it will work for you.

A second important strategy is to use the method that works. If your learning style or homeschooling style works, keep using it. If you're doing great with delight directed learning, stick with it. If you use the school-at-home approach and your kid thrives on textbooks and workbooks, then keep at it. The flip side of this is also true. If the approach you are taking is not working, then stop using it and either go back to what you used before or make a change. Look for a curriculum provider that has worked for you in the past.

I personally used Sonlight curriculum. When they recommended a resource, I knew there was a high likelihood it would work for us, because everything else they recommended was successful. If you find something that works, keep using it—whether it's a curriculum, a style, or a provider, keep using it. (If all else fails, grab some chocolate, because chocolate solves all of life's problems.)

Use a Homeschool Curriculum 

One of the most important guidelines for choosing a curriculum is to choose a homeschool curriculum whenever possible. A homeschool curriculum is different from a public school curriculum. It assumes the teacher knows nothing about the subject. If you choose a public school curriculum, it will assume you have a degree in the subject to teach it. Homeschool parents don't typically know all their subjects thoroughly in advance, and a homeschool curriculum makes allowances for this. A homeschool curriculum is also intended to work well at home rather than in a group setting with group questions and group activities.

When my sons were in high school, I was nervous about teaching them Latin; I knew nothing about Latin. I had one Latin book I borrowed from a friend, downloaded a sample from another Latin curriculum, and compared the two of them. I was a bit shocked when I looked at my friend's book; after looking at the first page, I didn't have a clue what it was talking about! If I'd used that book, I wouldn't have known how to instruct my children. It was intended for a public school setting and assumed I knew Latin.

In contrast, the first chapter of the homeschool Latin program said, "Copy this information into your own notebook so you will learn what Latin is." So, that's what we did. This book gave specific directions about what to do each day, and I can say with confidence that my sons learned Latin. Make sure you use a homeschool curriculum and not a curriculum intended for a public school.

As homeschoolers, we try to save money, and sometimes we're so desperate that we'll grab a used textbook from a public school. Sometimes this won't help in the long run. It may not even save you money if the book gets so frustrating that your child ends up hating the subject. Think carefully when you choose.

As a homeschool teacher, you don't need to have a degree to teach a subject. One of the goals for homeschooling is to teach your child how to learn. When you use a homeschool curriculum, make sure it's one that promotes self-teaching, not so you teach yourself, so your child teaches themselves. Children need to learn how to learn; it's one of the most important skills you will teach your child, both for college and for life.

Adults need to teach themselves all the time. I had to teach myself how to use the computer (but my husband helped!). I taught myself how to use QuickBooks. Self-teaching is what adults do in day-to-day life. Children will grow up and become adults, and they need to teach themselves. When you use a self-teaching curriculum, you're training your child to become a better adult—it's an important skill for adulthood.

In the younger years, parents are teachers. We taught our children how to write in cursive, multiply, and understand historical events. When children become teenagers, they start self-teaching more and more. That's when the parent's role changes from teacher to project manager—the overseer, the person who simply makes sure it's done and done correctly but doesn't do the work themselves.

This is one of the reasons why you don't have to learn Latin or physics to teach the subject. You only need to be the project manager for your child learning Latin or physics.

Public schools don't usually have the benefit of using a homeschool curriculum. If you feel inadequate, simply remember that some public school teachers don't even have a degree. All teachers struggle with the same challenges. Sometimes even gifted teachers with a degree have difficulty teaching when forced to use a rotten curriculum. As a homeschool parent, you get to choose a curriculum you feel comfortable using, regardless of whether you have a degree in the subject. You can also use a curriculum that is appropriate for your children and make as many modifications as needed as time goes on. What freedom!

Homeschool Curriculum That's Effective and Fun is one of my Coffee Break Books. What are Coffee Break Books? These are books designed for YOU—a busy homeschool parent feeling frustrated by something, and needing information NOW—all put together in an easy-to-read, short, simple format. Coffee Break Books are perfect for overwhelmed, sleep-deprived moms with a baby on their hip. Simple, large font makes them easy to read even when distracted or pulled in a million directions. They are designed to help parents tackle just ONE issue of homeschooling during just ONE coffee break! Each book combines a practical and friendly approach with detailed, easy-to-digest information. Never overwhelming, always accessible and manageable, each book in the series will give you the tools you need to tackle the tasks of homeschooling high school, one warm sip at a time.

Learn more about fun and effective homeschool curriculum in my video review below!

This is a chapter from my book, Homeschool Curriculum That's Effective and Fun: Avoid the Crummy Curriculum Hall of Shame! You can get your own copy in print or Kindle version here.

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Thursday, 20 June 2024

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