Oh curriculum… This is one of those hot topics that is discussed constantly amongst homeschooling families and families considering homeschooling. When we meet someone that finds out that we are a homeschooling family, the first question is always, “What curriculum do you use?” My answer, my own. Shocker, right? Those that know me personally would maybe blame it on my alleged “stubborn” personality or my desire to do things my own way. Meh, that might be part of it.
If you are just beginning your homeschool journey or considering it and looking into curriculum options you probably have done your research and have learned all the different styles of education and all the different curriculums available that support certain styles. You may have also noticed how incredibly expensive many of these curriculums are. Being a family of 6 on one income, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a curriculum per school year didn’t seem like something I was interested in. Especially since so much of the curriculum is workbooks and a script for parents. (No thanks!)
So I got this wild idea… What if I DIDN’T spend a ton of money on a curriculum and just made my own? Gasp – is that even an option? Yup! Once I share that I make my own curriculum I’m often met with the typical, “Oh, I could never make my own curriculum!” Guess what? Yes, you can.
Most curriculums that I have seen are what I would consider a “one size fits all”. This means that, regardless of your students individual interests, abilities, or learning style, they will be taught the same things. In the same order. Now, do not get me wrong, there are interventions and add ons to many that allow for the parents to feel like they are giving their child an individualized education, however, I feel that this is a false confidence and false sense of accomplishment to give them. Now, before you think I am berating curriculums, hear me out. If your goal is to “do school at home” (have a traditional school experience at home) then yes, a curriculum is what you would want! Like at a school, all your kids will learn the same things, at the same age, in the same order. Some interventions and modifications will be made when needed, but essentially, you will be giving all of your kids the same educational experience.
In my home, we are not trying to mimic a traditional school experience for our kids. The reason we chose to homeschool was because we did not want a traditional school experience for our kids. Using a pre-made curriculum would bring about many of the same issues that we would face in a traditional school. In public school classrooms, the curriculum for the teachers is already made and set. In every classroom, in every school, in every district, and now in every state, it would not be abnormal to walk into a classroom and see that teacher teaching the students the exact same thing that the teacher next door is teaching. At the same time. In the same way. This is how pre-made homeschool curriculums are as well. Granted they have designated “styles” that parents can choose from like Waldorf, or Charlotte Mason, etc. But don’t think that by choosing one of these curriculums you are giving your child the education they deserve. But do not worry, there is a better way!
Some families, such as mine, have had this radical idea that we would not only teach our own children at home, but that we would CHOOSE what to teach them! I know, crazy, right? It isn’t as hard as you would think. It is actually quite simple. There are what are called developmentally appropriate skills that children should know and learn within certain age frames. What this means is that when kids are 6 they are typically reading and writing basic words because as they grow, this is a natural skill that is acquired. Do some kids read earlier? Yes! Do some kids read later? Yes! But there are skills that are deemed as developmentally appropriate because MOST kids are ready to learn and UNDERSTAND the content and skill at that particular age. I use these developmentally appropriate skills to guide my curriculum and what I should be teaching. Although the curriculum used in traditional schools is deemed to be developmentally appropriate does not mean it necessarily is, especially if a student is behind or ahead. Often times when I was teaching in the public school system I felt at though the content was not appropriate for the kids in my class.
Where do you find these? I’m so glad you asked! I use the book, Home Learning Year by Year. This book has become my homeschool bible as far curriculum goes. It is broken up by grade level from pre-k through 12th grade. Within each grade level it is broken into subjects and has the skills that are most common for children to learn at that grade! When I’m planning for a particular grade level, I take the time to type up the subjects and skills so that I have a simple pacing guide for all of the skills that I should have covered within the school year. I also take the skills and make them into kid-friendly sentences and make a goal sheet for the kids to keep track of what skills they have accomplished.
Once I know what skills I need to be teaching I simply decide what I want to teach for the upcoming week (keeping in mind that some skills must be learned before others i.e. you can’t start reading until you know the alphabet, etc.). I use my homeschool planner to plan our my week and use my creative side along with some pinterest, other blogs, and teacherspayteachers.com, and the library to help get ideas and materials! I LOVE to make my own stuff and this allows me to make the activities interesting to my kids based on their likes. When the week is done I evaluate if we accomplished our goals and decide on a plan for the next week. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s really that simple!
Having the freedom to choose what I teach and how I teach is extremely important to me and I believe beneficial to my children. Creating your own curriculum is going to be more “work” that using one that has already been made for you, yes, but the results and opportunities that it creates are insurmountable. I ask you to think back to why you chose to homeschool and what your goals are for your homeschool. Determine if a premed curriculum is helping you fulfill those goals and if your homeschool is what you envisioned. If you are having doubts, I urge you to try your hand at making your own! It is more work but it is worth it beyond words!
So curriculum… What do you REALLY need? Not a whole lot! A little confidence, research, and time will make a world of difference for you and your child(ren)!
To order the book, Home Learning Year by Year click the image below!
To order the homeschool planner that I use for planning out my homeschool and life, click the image below!
If you are wanting to discuss creating your own curriculum in more depth or have any questions, please reach out! I’d love to chat with you! Cheers!