Six Ways to Plan a Simple, Excellent, Affordable Curriculum: Pulling it All Together

6(2)Putting your own simple, excellent, affordable curriculum together is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

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1. Focus on Your Core

If all you have the energy and time to plan for is teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, then you have nothing to worry about!

It’s all about tools, not “trivia.”

What’s the difference? Schools spend very little time on equipping children to learn and explore for themselves, and loads of time trying to cram trivial information (and indoctrination) into their minds.

Faith with Long's Language

Think of it this way. If you took a child and kept him from eating good things like whole apples, oranges, grains, and meat and instead filled him up with loads of vitamins every day, he would become quite ill. Our bodies need to be able to chew and digest real, whole foods; our entire digestive system is geared to process foods which have not been refined down to chemical compounds before they are ingested.

It is the same with the mind and the soul. Children need unprocessed information so that they can learn to organize and utilize it on their own. If we give them skills like reading and writing, they can then take the information they receive and turn it into useful, innovative thoughts and actions.

Also, it’s not necessarily about taking huge swaths of time and expecting instant results. It’s more like how children grow; it is a gradual, steady process.

So, you take 15-30 minutes a day in concentrated learning at first, even if you don’t see how so little can be of much value, and you continue in consistent steadfastness, your child will learn and grow and before you know it he/she will be reading simple stories and writing whole sentences, then it will be whole novels and essays.

As your children grow and develop in the basic areas, you can begin to expand the time spent on your core, even adding in some of the other content areas that you feel they are capable of covering on their own, with little to no help from you.

I was just talking to my oldest daughter, who is homeschooling four extremely active children, and she is so excited about the progress her youngsters are making since she has given up trying to cover every subject every day. She simply concentrates on the three main skills her children will need in order to be able to enjoy all other subjects and only for 15-30 minute sessions (her children are very young).

Since she is not trying to wear herself out trying to put in every subject, she is able to be more consistent, and it is paying off! Her “pupils” are making steady, solid progress in the areas that matter most. She had tried numerous methods and curricula before, but they all left her feeling stressed and her little ones were not making progress the way she had hoped. Now she almost feels guilty because the rest of their learning time can be used to…

2. Have Fun!

Once you have gotten the basics down every day, you can use the balance of your time exploring in almost any other area you wish! For my daughter and her children, this meant that one day they were interested in robots, so they pulled out their reference books and got on the World Wide Web and enjoyed to their hearts’ content, finishing up with some copywork and drawings on the subject.

In our home we have shelf after shelf of reference books, novels, and other interesting tomes, not to mention how-to books and supplies for crafting and creating. Every day we try and learn about something new. This week we have read about early pioneers, United States geography, the true story of El Cid, even the habits of European robins (as opposed to their American cousins). A few are enjoying learning new techniques to finish some embroidery projects, while there is also creating with Sculpey and some watercoloring going on.

Meanwhile, guitar and recorder, along with some piano and voice, are all wafting through the house. Stars are the subject of one study, while another is learning everything about plants. Then there are the historical novels and encyclopedia articles that are being discussed during dinner.

Of course, all of this learning must be “captured” so that thinking can have its full effect. This is done when we…

3. Record

This is done in many different ways, the main one being when I jot down notes about what we have been doing in my nifty planner.

Sometimes I simply scribble a few abbreviations, but I also take time to form short narrations on what the children are interested in and their progress.

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I also require that the children participate via notebooking. This means that sometimes we are using pre-printed sheets with spaces provided for drawings, graphics, and the writing of their own thoughts. This also means that sometimes we use composition books that can be written in, drawn in, or have things either printed or copied from other sources added. We actually have huge three-ring binders filled with work the children have done in this way, and it is one of their favorite things to leaf through these binders and enjoy the work done there, almost the equivalent of an encyclopedia which they have created themselves!

And there you have it, a simple, straight-forward way to organize a solid, marvelously fun homeschool education so that it makes sense.