When first venturing into the whole homeschool world, the huge choice of curriculum can be completely overwhelming. I think there must be hundreds of curriculums and nearly as many opinions about what will work the best for educating children.
I was really glad that I had gotten to try a few different curriculums at several schools while teaching, so I had an idea for what might be good choices for us when we started homeschooling. In first grade we wanted colorful, interesting books; phonetically based reading programs; and math with enough review to make concepts stick.
A good jump into our first year after I’d given us time to adjust, I felt like things were not working as smoothly as they should. Zachary was learning, but he didn’t enjoy school very much and neither did I. Some of the materials that worked well in a classroom did not work so well for us now. Some of my ideals, though good, were impossible to reach with our circumstances.
Researching and listening to veteran homeschool moms brought up more questions than answers for awhile. I heard things like, “You can skip a few lessons when he knows the material,” and, “What subjects interest him? Have you thought of trying unit studies?” and, “Spend time reading good books/spend time in nature,” and “Just do what works for you; that’s the beauty of homeschooling.”
The problem was I didn’t know what worked for us. Also, I didn’t know how we could spend hours reading because that would take time from our lessons and it would simply make our school day longer.
Then I learned something super helpful: There are several different methods of homeschooling. What I was doing–daily lessons in workbooks, reading from textbooks, and regular testing is called school at home. It works great for classrooms. It works at home, too, but for some people (us) it can be tedious.
Since then I’ve explored the methods–school at home, classical education, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Cyber school, Montessori, Waldorf, and there are more, to find what method of schooling will work well for our family. (Here is a brief overview of some of the most common methods of schooling.)
A curriculum may be designed for a particular method of schooling or may be compatible with more than one method. Discovering my home school philosophy helped me better understand what to look for in educational resources.
I wanted to share a little of what I’ve learned with anyone who might be interested in looking at homeschooling a little less traditionally school-like. I am still so new to this, but I’ll just pretend we were sitting here in my living room talking. In an article I would respect ;) there would be references to sources, but this is just a chat. Okay?
Unfortunately because I can’t see you yawning or growing a little bored, I also might get a little long winded. To keep this long, long, long chat from making you drink too much coffee, I’ve broken it up into several posts.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss three factors to consider when choosing a method. I’ll chat a little more about a few of the strengths in my favorite methods later. Then if I manage to finish the series before getting distracted by school and the rest of life, I’ll tell you about some of the curriculum we’ve tried, what we’re using now, and which methods are working for us.
I’d also love to hear what questions you might have about homeschool methods and curriculum.