Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Creating Your Curriculum

For me, one of the most exciting things about homeschooling is that my husband and I get to choose what we teach our children!  We also get to watch their wonder as they discover and we get to learn right along with them.  It’s a blessing and a privilege--and a lot of work too, of course.  But anything worth anything takes work.
    If designing your own curriculum sounds neither exciting nor important, there are plenty of great curriculums already packaged up.  But if you’re like me and want to do it your own way--the best way you can find for your family‘s unique needs, talents and interests--but feel a little overwhelmed, read on and I’ll share my ideas and discoveries with you. 
    First of all, I have to say that it took years to accumulate all these ideas and resources, and it took years to implement them.  As you begin your homeschool, don’t try to do everything at once!  My husband builds houses, and having helped him remodel, design, and build several houses, it’s a familiar process.  Maybe that’s why designing a curriculum reminds me of the house building process. So humor me and bear with a little metaphor: When you look at another family’s finished “structure“, you see the beauty, symmetry, order that they’ve been working on for years. If you try to create all you see and admire in another family’s homeschool at once, you may feel despair when it just doesn’t happen!  But remember--no one begins building a new house by putting in the furnishings. Though paint and trim and decorations are all important in a beautiful home, we don’t begin there.  First comes a plan, then a good foundation.  Next comes the structure--walls, roof, floors, etc.  Finally we lay carpet, paint, and add the light fixtures.  Then, usually even after we’ve moved in and begun using the home, we hang curtains and pictures and flower swags.  No one would ever think of hanging curtains before painting, let alone before pouring the concrete. 
    At first as we began homeschooling I wanted to implement every good thing I saw or heard about in our home school, but it caused frustration!!  Finally I realized that I had to start at the beginning--with planning, preparing, scheduling, and a lot of studying.  Once I had invested some time, I had something to work with--material to build our “house” with.  I’ve learned to take it one step at a time, and always continue to beautify, make additions, decorate, and remodel--but not until the basic structure is there first!
    As in building a home, first we have to figure out what exactly it is we want and need.  Each family needs to
    *recognize what their purpose is in homeschooling
    *define priorities in order to accomplish the purpose
    *soak up many ideas on methods and decide which works best for their     life and learning styles. 
    *Then design your curriculum.  Once you know what you’re looking for     the task is much simpler.