Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Be a Slave To Your Curriculum

The last two school years have taught me valuable lessons as a homeschooling parent. Last year, I learned the right pace to set for my daughter. I discovered how she learns best and became more comfortable and confident as her teacher. I also found a rhythm that worked best for us as a family.

This year, as my confidence increased, I felt better about branching off and exploring topics other than the ones in my curriculum.

But as the school year draws to a close, I see that I am still a slave to my curriculum. I have read before that a good teacher uses the curriculum as a tool to facilitate learning. But this is something with which I struggle. Looking back over this year, I can see how I have stressed about completing each lesson in our curriculum.

The great part about following a curriculum, is that if you have never before taught a child, it helps you to learn how to manage your time and schedule your classtime. I strongly encourage families to begin homeschooling with a good curriculum, such as Calvert's.

But the problem with a curriculum is that more than likely, your child is going to advance in different subjects at a different pace. For example, my daughter is an incredible reader. Her literacy skills are much further along than any other subject. So it is really hard to follow a curriculum, when one subject is too easy, another is difficult, and another is just right.

I really can't stand the fact that I have felt the obsessive need to complete each portion of the lessons. I guess out of fear that I might forget to teach her something that is essential. Something that every other kid her age has learned. And it aggravates me that I have made teaching so difficult for myself, as I make lists on what to cover in each classtime, flipping back and forth through pages, trying to keep track of where she is and what "tests" she should be completing. It has become a nightmare.

And to make matters more challenging, my son 'graduated' from preschool today and is now officially a homeschooler. I am already sweating just thinking about teaching two different kids, two different curricula.

The problem, I know, is that I am such a stickler for protocol. I want to follow the directions! Too indoctrinated by all my years of traditional schooling? Maybe.

So my vow for the coming year is to let go. While I have already received the a 2nd grade curriculum from a friend and have saved my Kindergarten one from last year, I'm seriously thinking about locking up the lesson manuals. And instead, I have decided to use what I had intended to use this year (before another friend offered me her 1st Grade curriculum for free!):

The Core Knowledge Series of books will be my guide for this next year. In it are all the basics that my children should know by the end of the year. I want to use this as my spine, while using separate programs/lessons for teaching each subject. I got each of my books for free through PaperbackSwap.com (I LOVE this site!!!) If you don't have an account there (or don't want to set one up), you can find them new and used in the Librería.

I'm working hard now to finish up the curriculum we have. So that I can begin organizing for next year, and so that we can start on more fun learning projects for the summer.

Moral of the story: Don't be a slave to your curriculum!

Con mucho cariño...

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