Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creating Your Own Curriculum, Part 6-- Final Thoughts

(This is part of a series of posts on creating your own curriculum.  See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 for more information.)

Moving into a homeschooling routine is best done incrementally. I’ve added in focused instruction gradually over the last three years.  I started with “stealth lessons” that I had sitting at the ready for when we had some down time.  If those went well, they gradually became a regular part of our morning routine.  I still tend to introduce new curriculum this way—it’s like tasting the soup as you cook to make sure the balance of flavors is right, or in this case the balance of content and my child’s learning style.

As I mentioned before, it may be helpful to block out on a calendar how your week might flow based on your notes, goals, and new purchases.  At our house, we have three mornings a week that are good for focused instruction.  The other mornings are mostly taken up by other obligations (some of which help meet other goals), and although I might be able to sneak something in, I don’t count on it.  Art and science experiments in our house often happen in the afternoon.  Once the curriculum materials I plan to use are in hand, I also at least think through a rough idea of the pacing over weeks or months.

Like sewing, crafting, or cooking, the best thing about homeschooling is its flexibility. If it doesn’t fit, alter it!  Don’t have all the ingredients?  Improvise!  Hate the math curriculum?  Use something else!  It’s really ok if your family only got to chapter twelve on that great history book and then completely changed goals.  You were learning along the way.

Some Boxed Curriculums

I hear some of you saying, no, really, I want a boxed curriculum to get me started!  Sometimes, it’s easier to get going with a curriculum that someone else has designed.  Here are three boxed curriculums of various prices to get you started.

Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page currently offers curriculum for four to thirteen year olds with complete packages starting at $150.  Although I have never actually purchased this curriculum, I like it’s design, because it is based around large themes such as environment, patterns, and relationships, and it is literature based.  Many samples are available on the web site, so you can get a flavor or the materials before you buy.  Also, it can be purchased as nine week units, so you do not have to buy a whole year to get started. 

Oak Meadow

Oak Meadow produces Waldorf based curriculums for preschool through high school with complete packages starting at $190.  Their materials are often criticized because they don’t follow the Waldorf philosophy closely.  They emphasize a more gentle introduction to language arts/math and use fairy tales, nature study, and crafts as integral parts of the curriculum.  The format is weekly—a week’s worth of activities are presented and it’s up to the parent to decide what to do each day.

Learn At Home from American Education Publishing

Learn at Home is the least expensive option (from about $5 used to $20 new) for kindergarten through fourth grade.  For each of thirty-six weeks, a two page spread of daily activities for each subject area is provided plus additional learning activities and several worksheets for each week.  Reading assignment are suggested and the activities are often related to a theme.

I hope that this has been a useful series of posts.  Please leave your comments, I'd love to hear from you.

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