Sunday, August 14, 2011

Advice for Homeschoolers

Yes, I have the audacity to think I know something worth sharing.  But starting on my tenth year, I do think I have learned some things along the way.  This is one that I wish I had known and figured out a long time ago.

Curriculum doesn't teach your child, you do.

Go ahead and listen to those who have used Saxon Math or Singapore Math or Math-U-See, or another Math program.  Pick one you think will work for your teaching style.  Because YOU must do the teaching.  None of the above will be the perfect math curriculum for all of your children.  YOU will have to adapt it and TEACH it to the way they understand.

Go ahead and listen to those who have used The Writing Road to Reading, or Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Phonics Pathways, or Explore the Code, or another reading/phonics program.  Pick one you think will work for your teaching style.  Because YOU must do the teaching.  None of these are the perfect program for all of your children.  YOU have to learn and adapt it and TEACH it to your son and daughter, to the fast learner, and to the slow learner.

Go ahead and listen to those who have used Story of the World, or Veritas Press History Cards, or Tapestry of Grace, or Sonlight, or any other History program.  Pick one you think will work best for you because YOU must do the teaching.  None of the above will be the perfect history curriculum for all of your children.  YOU will have to adapt it and TEACH it to the way they understand.

I know that if you're just starting out on this journey, you're thinking what I thought, "I don't have any idea what my style is."  So just pick the best thing you can at this moment and TEACH it to your child.  All of the programs that are sold in the myriad of homeschool catalogs have the same goal, to give information in an orderly fashion in order to pass a body of knowledge on to another.  There are differences in the philosophy and the order of teaching, and you will need to take that into consideration.  But try really hard to not be wowed or wooed into thinking that if I would have just bought that program over this one, everything would be much better.  It won't.  Trust me.  I know.

I was easily wooed and wowed and fell for the marketing of the other program with its glossy pages and shiny pictures and happy children who knew all their facts and understood everything with the first page.  But it didn't work that way for me, and I'm sure it won't for you either.  That program has its own not-so-great aspects. Because curriculum doesn't teach your child, you do.

Take comfort in this my homeschool friend.  You teach your child.  The curriculum you choose helps you do this.  Allow this knowledge to help you, not hold you hostage to the fear of "what if."  Pick your curriculum to the best of your ability and teach it to your child.  You'll learn, the child will learn, and you'll look back over this journey and see that this is true;

Curriculum doesn't teach your child, you do.


Karen said...

Amen. We ended up trying Saxon twice, because everyone in our homeschool group told me that the program I was using just wasn't any good. My children and I hated Saxon. It doesn't fit my teaching style or their learning style. Wouldn't it be interesting to learn how much money the average homeschool family wastes trying the "must use" programs that aren't a good fit?

Great post!

Anonymous said...

This is most certainly true! :)

Melrose said...

love this. We too used Saxon last year, and while I love it, it's not going to work for us this year so we're taking a year off and using something more child-led so that my other soon to be 3 children 3 and under don't drive me insane while I"m reading a script to my 5 yr old that I could have taught in 5 min if I had just done it myself :p. Thanks for the reminder that no matter what we use my child will not fall horribly behind because the one I chose wasn't prestigious enough.

Susan said...

I'm going to add something to what you said. Yes, the point of the curriculum is to pass along a certain pile o' information to the kid in an orderly fashion. But also... there are other lessons when you are teaching your children. And this is part of the "Curriculum doesn't teach your child -- you do!"

What is important enough to cancel lessons? What's not?

How do we read the instructions? Or do we skip it?

Do we "test" by discussion over supper, or by writing an essay, or by taking the test at the end of the chapter? And what does this testing method mean? And why?

Do we proceed through the curriculum in an orderly fashion, dividing up lessons evenly through a nine-month school year? Or do we race through it like crazy sometimes, setting it aside at other times?

ALL these things teach. Some teachers teach orderly methodicalness, while other teachers teach striking while the iron's hot. These things are not part of the curriculum as such. But they will come through as you mentor your child, whether you like what you're teaching or disapprove.

Glenda said...

You're right Susan. And I meant to add those things. The way I use Saxon math, isn't the way many who tell me they hate Saxon tell me they used the program (Note Melrose - I don't read the script, except to myself to get the gist of the lesson). And I've used it differently with each child because of the way he or she learns. Same thing goes with other subjects.

And it varies by year, by season, and by day. As homeschoolers we have the advantage of being methodical, or strking while the iron's hot, or even remedial when we spot a hole in a child's understanding.

Thanks for pointing this out Susan. This will help all realize more that the curriculum chosen helps them to teach their child.

Karen - I know I've wasted my good share of money buying various curriculum!

Anonymous said...

When I see "Advice For Homeschoolers" I'm there fast.


Jane Seyboldt

The Hen (Charity) said...

Thank you, I have been toying with switching to a different math program but I may not. Math-U-See fits me and I can understand it and teach it. I was just having these same thoughts the other day. Why should the curriculum match the child when it is the mother that does the teaching.