|Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:16 pm Post subject: Getting Started with Choosing Curriculum
|After making the decision to homeschool, the next step is choosing subject courses or a curriculum. Below are some of the basics on choosing courses or a curriculum.
What curriculum do I choose?
A curriculum is simply a set of courses in various subjects. The basic or foundational subjects are math and the six areas of language arts: reading/phonics, handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and composition.
A complete curriculum or individual subject courses are available from a variety of publishers. There are three basic sources:
COMPLETE CURRICULUM: This is everything from one company. From textbooks to teaching plans, every subject is in a coordinated schooling plan. Abeka, Bob Jones, or Calvert are publishers who produce complete curricula.
INDIVIDUAL SUBJECT COURSES: Many companies are specialists. They focus on one subject only. For example, Saxon Publishers produces mainly math materials. Also, Beautiful Feet Publishers specializes in literature-based history.
CURRICULUM GUIDES: Some publishers produce a coordinated schooling or curriculum plan for all subjects but produce only some of their own course materials while using other outside publishers' individual courses to complete their package. Veritas Press, Sonlight, Christian Liberty Press are publishers who produce these kinds of guides or plans.
What homeschooling approach or philosophy do I use?
Approaches to homeschooling feature a teaching technique or plan of study. You are not required to use an approach and may not wish to do so. Here are brief introductions to four of the currently popular approaches:
Textbook Method: Most homeschool materials are designed with the textbook as their main teaching tool. Course materials are in chapters or sections and there are tests, quizzes, or some type of independent or practice work for each chapter or section.
The Classical Approach: This approach to education is based on the Trivium, with an emphasis on grammar, rhetoric, and debate. It includes the study of classical literature and Latin or Greek. There are a number of companies that publish classical curriculum guides, among them are Well-Trained Mind, Veritas Press, and Logos.
The Unit Study Approach: The Unit Study takes one topic or theme as a basis from which to teach a subject. For example, if a student is interested in computers, then math and language arts are taught based on how they are used in computers. There are few complete curricula for this approach; it is mainly available for some individual subjects.
The Living Books or Literature-Based Approach: This approach emphasizes the use of well written books, usually by authors who have been directly involved in the book?s subject material, so that a student gets a more concrete, less abstract education. Charlotte Mason, a British educator during the early 1900s, started the Living Books Approach. Similar to the Unit Study approach, there are not many complete curricula for this approach, but some good individual subject courses.
How do I evaluate a course or curriculum?
HSGP Four Point Checklist:
Can you understand the instructions?
The instructions show you how the course or curriculum is organized. Understanding the instructions will give you the best viewpoint to see if it is a good match or not a good match for you. These instructions are usually found in an introduction or in the teacher?s manuals. Most homeschool parents make their mistakes here, in our opinion. It is assumed that all educational books will be clearly written and well structured, but unfortunately that is not always the case.
Is there enough practice or independent work?
Having enough practice work ? whether it is math problems or reading assignments ? is a necessity. Most of us do not have the time to create practice work for a student in all subjects.
Are there answers to the independent work?
Answers, like practice work, take time to generate. It is not that you do not know how to do third grade math problems. It is whether you have enough time to solve the problems in addition to all the other necessary work. Some good courses may not offer all of the answers or solutions to their study work.
Does it fit your child?s learning style and skill levels?
Matching learning style to child is one of the more important issues when choosing a subject course or curriculum. For example, one child may learn math more easily with black and white workbooks while another works with more confidence with manipulatives (counting blocks or teaching music tapes) and fewer workbooks. In addition, if a student struggles with math or grammar, it may be best to start from a lower grade and build up to his or her grade level. This information is found in the instructions and in other introductory materials, sometimes in a special explanation called a ?scope and sequence.?