I am the kind of person who goes to a craft fair and comes home empty handed because if I see something I like, I invariably think, “Oh, but I could make that!” I have the same attitude about expensive clothes, expensive food, and expensive curriculum. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their prepackaged beauty, their mirage of perfection… it’s just that I know if I buy one of these items, I’ll wish there was a different style of lace, a different pattern of cloth, or a different main text for the history section.
So it was natural for me as I began my homeschooling journey three years ago to develop my own curriculum. As a former teacher who was allergic to the textbooks assigned to her grade level and a former curriculum consultant who encouraged other teachers in other schools to develop the same allergy, I was lucky to have a rich background in selecting alternative materials. I’m also fortunate to live in an area with state parks, museums, and enrichment classes for kids. But with so much to pick from and so few hours in the day, how to decide which things met our needs?
What is a Curriculum Anyway?
The term “curriculum” has several common uses in the homeschooling community. It can mean a list of goals and a timeline for completing them. It can also mean the materials you use to teach those goals. Often it means a package that incorporates both these things: materials to teach particular goals based on a timeline. Being a do-it-yourself type and honestly believing I know my children better than authors I’ve never met, I tend to feel the “goals” part of the curriculum is my job. However, I can often cannibalize a packaged curriculum for materials to meet the goals I’ve determined and discard the rest.
In this series of blog posts, I’ll describe the process I’ve used for setting what I call yearly goals. I’ll show you how I used these individualized goals to select curriculum materials and list a healthy number of resources to get you started. I’ll also discuss how to pace your learning. The best thing about this process is that it can work for almost any style of homeschooler. For those who favor a more structured approach, it can clarify your goals and help you weed out activities that aren’t working for your family. Children can be involved in each step of the process if you favor a more child led approach. Even if your style tends towards unschooling, creating goals can help you to be better at “strewing” those tantalizing resources around. Although I assume you will use this process for one year periods, it is easily adaptable to shorter time frames of weeks or months.
In my next post, I'll write about gathering information to write goals.