Panic sets in. You’ve decided to homeschool and pull your kid out of public or private school tomorrow. Where do you find curriculum and how do you ever choose the best one? Should you use the public school textbooks? I’m here to tell you why your homeschool curriculum doesn’t matter.
Has another homeschool year has passed, and your still searching for the right curriculum? Or have you decided to throw it all in the garbage and change everything up yet again? Are you thinking that the kids aren’t learning enough, doing enough, being enough?
I was perusing some facebook posts this past week and see the endless questions about choosing curriculum. It’s a valid question for new homeschoolers. It’s the first thing parents go to when they are contemplating homeschool. But it’s the last thing you should worry about.
“New homeschoolers are used to someone else choosing a curriculum for their child. They may have never even explored school textbooks other than their own children’s books during homework time, or may have never given curriculum a second thought. There were no decisions to be made about what a kid learns in public school. It was decided for families, someone else’s job. Now faced with the enormous task of choosing the very thing that seems most important to their child’s education; parents are easily lost and overwhelmed.” Out of the Box Learning~Empowering YOU On Your Homeschool Journey
As parents we are used to public schools spending five digit numbers per student so curriculum must beTHE most important thing in a child’s education. RIGHT? The best curriculum brings the best results? If they pass the test, learning must have occured, right? Except it has been proven time and time again, that short term learning and memorization doesn’t result in long term success. As if the only time learning can occur is in a classroom or through the pages of a textbook, chapter by chapter in sequential order.
“In general, we can’t even decide on a clear definition of what curriculum is. For our family, it’s all the things that engage our kids to be their best selves. Theater, public speaking, textbooks, skateboarding, life skills like cooking, computer skills, volunteerism, social activism, self worth. Curriculum is nothing more then embracing opportunity.”
~ Out of the Box Learning
Marketers love to tell us that the bells and whistles in their product will help your child succeed, and that their college education is dependent on them learning a certain subject or using a certain textbook/program/curriculum. “College and career ready” is a popular term used to persuade parents that all the training a child needs to be prepared for life happens in grades K-12 and a “rigorous” curriculm will help make that happen.
What helps a child become ready for college is love of learning, perseverance, willingness to question and look for alternate answers, and finding out how their life fits into the bigger picture of existence for all.
The truth is that the only thing that matters is your commitment to your kids and whether it engages them. Learning happens when kids are engaged.
“For most, this seems counter to what was learned in public school — that the curriculum is the central necessity to learning.”
~Out of the Box Learning
Why Your Homeschool Curriculum Doesn’t Matter
Whatever curriculum or method you choose to homeschool, whether it be free, cheap, or expensive doesn’t matter. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars of textbooks that have been great, and others that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. I’ve seen free curriculum that’s been both incredible and terrible, and some that walk the line in the middle of the road. If you are unschooling and not using any textbooks and it’s working for your family —great! You’ve found a fabulous “curriculum”.
A Google Search for curriculum reveals 4.5 million choices for both religious and nonreligious curriculum. So why has this one thing, become so important in the world of homeschooling, as if your child’s entire educational outcome was dependent on making this one choice?
“Textbooks and teacher’s manuals help the parents more than they help the children, because they help us with knowing what comes next. Textbooks are important to homeschooling parents because they help us relearn and revisit what may have been forgotten, and help us to push away those cobwebs of long forgotten material.”
~Out of the Box Learning
If You Choose Wrong, Make Another Choice
The fear of choosing the wrong curriculum only enforces what could possibly go wrong. The might ifs, the maybe’s, the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s. And if your child doesn’t learn or succeed then it’s a direct reflection on how smart YOU as a parent are, right? Questions from non-homeschoolers about curriculum might reveal that you are doing it wrong, or yield the common criticisms that we’ve all heard before.
Why Curriculum Choices Should Be Last
In my coaching, curriculum recommendations come dead last. Why?
- I need to get to know your child.
- How does he/she learn?
- More importantly, how does he/she not learn?
- How much time to do you have to be engaged with your children?
- What’s your budget? Are you interested in exploring a particular method of homeschooling?
- What is your experience with lesson planning?
- What’s the parent’s philosophy on what learning looks like?
- What homeschooling goals do you have?
- What about family goals?
Homeschooling support pages are filled with questions like, “What’s a good curriculum for a second grader?” And then there are answers like, “We use Life of Fred or Saxon or we unschool. All valid paths, but are they a match for your child and family? Suggestions for curriculum are great. They help a parent who may not be familiar with a particular program, the chance to explore and see if it’s a match. But only if the above questions have been answered first.
Curriculum Shouldn’t Ever Make Us Doubt Our Own Capabilities.
It shouldn’t make us feel less than, or imply that our children, or homeschool experience will not be successful.
Choices should allow parents and children to walk away with more confidence, trust and courage to homeschool. When your family bonds are enhanced, when trust is built and when kids are engaged, then you have choosing a great curriculum mastered!