Curriculum: Choice, choices, and more choices

by Trillia Newbell

woman on booksJumping into the homeschooling world can be like stepping on quick sand. If you don’t know what you are interested in you might sink. As I began to think about what to teach my son I soon became overwhelmed. There are so many options available. Don’t get me wrong, having many options is wonderful.  It’s somewhat comforting knowing that if we don’t like one curriculum we have the option to change. But, for this once anti-homeschooling, now homeschooling mom it was very scary at first.  To lessen the potential pain of searching for curriculum I approached it by thinking of 1) what others have done 2) what I hope to accomplish for the year.

Been there, done that

One of my first orders of business was to find out what others were doing.  I thought it would be  good for me to gain perspective and insight from those who’ve been there and done that. There is one thing that is for sure, there are a wide variety of practices out there! Some moms combine several curriculums, others just go to the library and pick out books, while others purchase curriculum packages and stick with the premade plan. Then there are coops. Coops are held outside of the home and are cooperative learning opportunities for homeschooling kids through classes on a variety of subjects.  The coops that I learned about held classes a few days a week and the kids would homeschool on the other days.

You can probably see how this could become overwhelming to someone pretty quickly. Thankfully I had a few conversations that helped me process it all. One friend showed me how she schedules her day with six homeschoolers.  She also shared how she gathers curriculum. She uses a variety of tools and resources and puts together her own curriculum. She was a teacher so this seemed to come rather naturally, though she also is relying on the grace of God. Another lady spoke to me about her curriculum that is a full curriculum. The curriculum comes in a box with all you need and you simply follow it.

Thankfully I have a community of homeschooling moms to pull from. My city also has a very active homeschooling group. I don’t take it for granted that I am surrounded by moms who are willing to support, encourage and teach me. But you may not have a similar community. One resource (of hundreds) that I thought was relevant to today’s homeschooling momma was Hip Homeschooling Moms. I mostly want to draw your attention to their blogroll which lists moms based on their homeschooling style.

Choosing for us

After researching what was out there, it was time to decide which option(s) best matched the needs of my family. I’m a working mom. Though I spend the majority of my time working from home, I still needed a curriculum that would be simple to follow with minimal preparation needed for each day.  I do not like shopping. I don’t even enjoy shopping for a dress shirt so the idea of going to a curriculum fair and trying to sort through all of the options and put something together was miserable to me.  My son has been a part of a preschool for the past three years. He really enjoys the classroom setting and I’ve enjoyed watching him learn how to relate to his peers. My husband wanted to make sure that whatever we chose would be strong academically.

After weighing all of the options and thinking through our family needs. We decided to combine two programs: Classical Conversations and Calvert School.

My son will start Kindergarten in the Foundations program in Classical Conversations. He will go once a week. I will be with him in the class as that is a requirement of the program. We wanted to do this because we wanted him to be a part of a classroom environment but not necessarily several days per week. Also, each week the kids do presentations and memory work. I was most interested in the presentation portion as I believe it will help him grow in communication. The other four days will be spent doing Calvert’s curriculum though one activity will be the memory work for Classical.

Calvert suited my family because it has a history of being strong academically, it’s easy to use says those I spoke with using it, and it’s a full curriculum meaning I don’t have to purchase anything but this curriculum.

Though these combined methods may not work long term, after much research I believe it will work for this first year. But what do I know? This is just our first year. We may get half-way through and realize that something else would be better. The good news is, if it doesn’t work for us we have choices, many choices.

Now let the fun begin!  Planning is ahead of us including reading a few books which I’ll share soon and getting our basement ready for learning.

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