36: Curriculum and Serious Mindedness

[In response to Premeditated Parenting 33: Our Objectives as they Relate to Homeschool]
Great thoughts, thanks a TON for taking time to put them down "on paper". I think praying through your convictions, and either asking God to make them mine or give me some of my own directly, will be extremely beneficial.

A follow-up question I have relates to curriculum. There is such a variety out there, and it can be so confusing to try and weed through what may be the best, do you have any recommendations so we can avoid any pitfalls y'all have fallen into?

We decided early on to pick a curriculum and go with it. One of our goals was to just keep it as simple as possible by going with one curriculum. We didn’t want to spend a bunch of time at the curriculum fairs or spend too much energy always reevaluating exactly which curriculum was the absolutely positively very best for each child. Most are well thought through and should provide a good and balanced education for most children.

Your faithfulness as a teacher will certainly impact your children more than which curriculum you use. That in mind, here are a few suggestions related to faithfulness in homeschooling.
1) When home schooling in Colorado, you commit to homeschooling for four hours a day, for 172 days. We suggest you keep your word in this.
2) We do not allow any fudge time in our four hours. In other words, we don’t count washing dishes, and mowing as “life experience time”, and we don’t count a trip to the museum or the zoo as a science fieldtrip. Usually before third grade our kids finish their school work in a couple of hours. We try to fill up the rest of their time by reading to them, educational computer time, or educational or spiritual videos.
3) From Kindergarten on, we have our kids work all the way through their books. Just because the time is up doesn’t mean the job is done. Finishing their books also gives the kids a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
4) We usually have the kids go back and correct questions they missed so that they can learn from their mistakes. This takes much more management because it can involve correcting the same paper two or three times, but we feel it is worth the effort.
5) If a child tries hard and performs poorly on a test, we are okay with that. Usually the case is that a child performs poorly because he or she did not study. In that case, he or she restudies, and retakes the test.

As with any type of school (home, public or private), we want our kids to learn the material, and we also want them to learn to work hard, be diligent, and be self-controlled. If you take a serious-minded approach to school you can achieve the goals you want with almost any curriculum. We feel that most parents do not take education and the training tool that it provides seriously enough. This is a grave error.

Anyway, back to your question. We simply asked around a little to get a feel for what was commonly used by people that we respected. You may want to do the same.

We ended up choosing A Beka. Sonlight is another popular choice, as are Bob Jones and Alpha Omega Publications. The virtual academies are also becoming more popular since they are online, cheaper (or free), and provide teacher support. Saxon math also seems to be a common substitution that people use instead of the standard math provided with the curriculum. I’m sure there are many more good choices, but that should give you a start.

United in Him,

Steve <><

P.S. – Kath’s quick comment: Just tell them to not have some “castle in the sky” idea of homeschooling. Yes, the benefits can far outweigh the costs, but if done correctly and thoroughly, it sure comes at some cost too. It is not for the weak-hearted! It takes tough discipline and character on the part of the child, and even more so on the part of the mommy!!

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