Looking for a way to break free from curriculum in the “box,” but just aren’t quite sure how to go about it? Here are some ways to take some inexpensive, open-ended, multi-level resources and turn them into a first-rate program for any sized family!
When it comes to homeschooling, I believe we should aim for three main things:
Learning should be about equipping children so that they can take off on their own learning adventures. This means that our focus should be on the basics; when we take detours and begin to supplant sound learning with fuzzy peripherals, the results are dismal, as the failures of the education system over the last 80 or so years have proved. This is why, instead of trying to teach our children everything about everything (which is an impossibility), we should endeavor to give them the tools they will need to find out and be able to teach themselves, which means that we concentrate on reading, comprehension, writing, and basic math skills while laying a foundation of inquiry and discovery in all other content areas and leaving them with examples of how to make the best of every learning experience.
Our children are precious to us, and we are charged by God to care for them in the best way possible, therefore, we want to make sure that their education is above-par (in real terms, not according to current mis-education dogma).
Just like just about everyone out there, cost is a big factor in determining what we will be using for learning, especially if we are to continue to have things like food, clothing, and shelter!
With these principles in mind, I believe a good education should be made up of the following elements:
Now, we can look at the above list with the typical view, which means each item must be treated separately, and this is what most of us are used to, but this is not the best way to educate children. The best, the most practical, the most common-sense approach is to realize that in real life there is very little separation between these subjects, and to try and keep ourselves from corralling our curriculum into neat categories that never touch each other!
For instance, while we may concentrate a few minutes a day in the area of language, we can’t help but realize that reading about history, geography, or science also requires a child to practice language skills.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all of these areas require textbooks; most of the subjects listed above can be approached via the “living books” idea of Charlotte Mason in which the information is presented in interesting, enjoyable ways, where children find the information interesting enough that there is no need for chapter questions, quizzes, tests and the like.
Actually, many times books may not be necessary at all!
Many of these ideas we will be discussing have been labeled and placed into certain “methods” categories, but as homeschooling parents in charge of our own children, we don’t have to be limited and pigeon-holed in our thinking. We have the freedom to pick and choose anything and everything that we appreciate and then take these ideas and turn them into our own philosophies and methods that work best for our own children.
It may be a marvelous thing to note that a well-built curriculum will enable children to take on the lion’s share of their own instruction, which means less stress and the ability to enjoy one’s home life much, much more!
Even though it seems like an impossible dream, it really, really is possible to have your homeschool cake and eat a generous piece of it, too!
I know this seems very “theoretical” at this point, and I really hate it when someone espouses a philosophy but doesn’t give me a clue what it looks like when put into practice, so I hope you will stay with me as I continue to write more posts on this subject in which I plan on giving some insight into the ways I have found to pull these ideas from the abstract into the concrete. This is the progression of ideas I plan on presenting in this series:
- Language Arts
- World Studies
- Practical Skills
- Bible/Character/Pulling it all Together
Stay tuned…more to come!