Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Choose Curriculum!

Curriculum??? AHHH???
     "So and so" has this and "so and so" has that and "so and so" is teaching Latin and "so and so" ect.  Want the low down on curric?  Here is is..... There is a crap ton and its all good, depending on who you are and who your kids are!!!  So, how do you sort through all of it and make a decision?   I have two suggestions for you:

  1. START SLOW.  Don't spend a lot of money, be very very simplistic.  Get into a good rhythm.  If you are starting with your oldest being kindy, even just a Costco work book is fine while you get into the swing of things.  Read a lot, play a lot and don't do more than 40 minutes of school everyday.  INFACT, 3 days a week is even better for "sit down stuff".  If not, you will burn out and feel like a failure.  If you are starting with older kids and multiple grades, combine as much as you can (read my post on block schedules and on 4 day school weeks.)  Keep it pretty simple, your kids need to defrag from public school and all of you need to learn how to be homeschoolers.
  2. Figure out who you are.  Everyones main decision making falls into 1 of 4 categories (you actually are a primary and have a secondary and we will focus this into curriculum choices only).  This means when you are face with a decision, lets say "homeschooling you think either: 1 is fun!  Homeschooling sounds fun and bright and like sunny days and field trips, 2 I need a clue. I can not move in that direction unless I can research it to death, with lots of lists and make sure I have everything I need to even consider it.  In fact this might sound so overwhelming that I don't do it at all and sit around instead.  3 let's get it done.  You make a decision and you move on it, go go go anything can be accomplished and you can drive it through, including homeschooling. 4 is right or wrong.  Is homeschooling right, is it wrong?  You go through every aspect weighing out each thing and if its right you do it.
     What does personality actually have to do with any of this.  I will tell you.  

1 is fun: You will think it is very, very fun to look at and shop for curric.  You will think its fun to get all the crafts and sparkly things and games.  You will think every field study and field trip and tid bit is fun!  Sounds great huh?!  Sounds fun?!
     You will not think it's very fun when all of that takes up so much time that you can not accomplish much.  You will not think it is fun when you have to write your own lesson plans.  You will not think it is fun when no one is learning and the babies are crying and you feel like you are failing.  If your secondary is a 2 you might even get so stuck in researching (slowly) that you can't even use 
     1 is fun Mom, you need to pick easy curric.  Stuff that thinks for you.  Little to no lesson planning.  You need things you can combine grade levels on, working kids in groups and, well, like a party.  You need flexibility to throw caution to the wind and march to your own beat but also on the days when you are not so inspired, that you know what to fall back on.  
     DO NOT pick curriculum that is too "involved", requires a lot of prep work, or has too many elements.  You might be able to "grow into" that spot (especially if you are a secondary 3 or 4) but not starting off.  Don't get fancy and add too much to your plate.  Your kids know you are "One Fun Mom" and if you try to teach differently then who you are... they will not like you as their teacher.

2 gets a clue: Heres the deal 2's.  You take your time, you research, you have lists and notes and paper (I hate paper).  You love google.  You like to beat a dead horse, you just can't stop making sure you have all the info.  Sometimes you may even get paralyzed in it all.  2's move slowly for the most part.  Once you have the info though your secondary number will kick in:  1 Now lets have fun, 3 let's get it done or 4 this is right/wrong!  You really need to utilize your secondary thought to move forward.
     If you are a secondary 1 then please for the love of everyone, pick things the 1 picks.  You need too or you will never enjoy what you are doing.  You can however pick things that have a little more "check off the list" then the 1 does.  You like lists and you like to be able to check things off.
     If your secondary is a 3 then you will probably be fine.  Your 3 will "get it done".  Just don't pick things that need additional research.  Do your research first, pick the curric and have it not require you to continue looking for things like... like books.  You need a built in list so you don't get caught up in more googling.
     If your secondary is a 4 then you need to remember to be flexible.

3's Get it done!: The great thing with you is that you get things done.  The problem will be that you might not think outside the box or to stop a while and smell the homeschool roses.  When picking curric, you will really rely on your secondary to help you choose and then you will drive it through.       Your kids might think your choices are not that great or that they are bland (unless your secondary is a 1), this is because you are very practical.  Be sensitive to them and pick curric with your secondary number in mind in order to not get stuck in only serving what seems practical!  BE CAREFUL IF you are a secondary 4 who thinks homeschool should look like public school you may just "get it done" all the way to the homeschool graveyard.  Be very careful you don't push whats not working.

Right/Wrong 4:  Oh 4's.  You really could go one way or the other.  It depends on what your 4 thinks is right or wrong.  If your 4 says that a loose, unschooling approach is best you will stand in that corner for life, unless your paradigm shifts and you think that a strict classical approach is the way to breed a child genius, then to that side you will run and stand firm!  See the problem 4's?
     When picking curriculum you base everything out of "right and wrong", "black and white", "good and bad".  Most homeschool 4's tend to be more on the scholastic side and often a little too "public schooly at home" (Although all personalities usually hit this at some point in their journey).
     You do very well with complicated curriculum with lots of checks and balances.  You like having curriculum that includes many subjects and goes by the grade.  You like doing things "by the book".
By nature, you will most likely want to stay away from things that are too whimsical, open ended and... imaginative.  You won't think you are actually getting enough done if you do (unless your secondary is a 1, then have at it!).  Your biggest issue will really be overload.  Overloading your life with this very strict school while trying to keep your house clean and organic, homecooked meals on the table 3x a day!  You need to keep in mind for yourself and your children that your children are children and not college students.  Don't overwhelm them with too much AND..... don't think you are a failure either.  Re look at what you picked, make changes, pare down and tell yourself it's RIGHT to be more relaxed and not do "as much" school work!

     It is okay to mix and match between sources.  Just try and still pick things according to your curric personality.  Google reviews on things and try and get a good feel for what you are going to buy.  Homeschool conferences/fairs/and friends are a good source to see lots of curric and get to know it.  Cathy Duffys  homeschool reviews are a good place to start to get a feel for things.
     I wish I had something more concrete to give you but the truth is still the same: There is a crap ton and its all good, depending on who you are and who your kids are.

My favorite all-around great curriculum:


Mystery Of History

                      KHAN (free online math)

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