A big chunk of my time was put towards planning my kids’ homeschool curriculum this SY 2016-2017. Even with all the homeschooling planners and organizers that are available, I found it rather overwhelming to even know how to start. I had been searching for a curriculum that best fits our lifestyle and beliefs.
When it comes to homeschooling, I am fairly new and inexperienced. I started in 2015 without any set curriculum for my then 4 year old. I bought a couple of workbooks to keep her engaged and interested in writing/coloring. I also used a lot of resources online but sitting down and doing school work was not our main activity. I was more focused on my child learning some basic personal and home skills: how to put away dishes, fold clothes, set the dinner table, bathe self, make the bed, character building, cook rice (we love rice), garden, etc. We also frequented our local library and parks. Books are an excellent source of information but learning does not only come from reading books. Learning also comes in many different forms: play, exploration, experimentation and experience. This year, we are simply adding more activities and preparing our kindergartner to focus more on the things she loves to do.
When I first sat down with my 4 year old to evaluate her learning capabilities, I noticed how interested she was with numbers and language but not with writing. So I let it wait. This year, although I have not completely erased writing off the curriculum, I set aside a few minutes of writing practice each week where she would learn how to write cursive. Why cursive? Read: Cursive Handwriting: How Important is it?
Children are capable of doing a lot of things on their own. It is amazing to me how they could come up with really cool ideas on their own, too. Our daily schedule is packed with things I hope they would be interested in. In my mind, I have the ideal schedule that would allow them to thrive. But would it work? This is when interest-led learning becomes the heart of our homeschooling. As a person who do not want to be sitting down doing something I am not interested in, I understand my children and I want to give them some freedom to choose what they want to learn without me having to force them into doing every little thing I want them to do. The world is vast, there is always something to learn and do and I wish they try many things.
The curriculum plan I came up with this year is just basically a guide for our day-to-day. There are 5 things I am incorporating into our learning this year:
- Charlotte Mason. Ever since I discovered the Charlotte Mason method, it’s hard not to follow along. It is something that I wish my children to thrive in. I believe in the Charlotte Mason philosophy that “the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind.” In her own words, she defined education as “an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”
- Interest-led Learning. This method stems from the daily interaction I have with my children. As a parent, I see what my children’s interests and potentials are and I work towards guiding them and helping them achieve certain goals. This year, we’ve added swimming, piano, and gymnastics to my daughter’s schedule as she has shown interest in them. As my children get older, I wish for them to follow along the path of their own choice, trusting that it is God’s will for them, so they would be effective, happy, responsible people.
- SS Quarterly Lesson. With the Bible as a guide, we use the SS lesson quarterly for daily Bible study and memorization. Honestly, this would have been enough for me since I always believe that “formal education” doesn’t have to be done before the child is ready. But since I could not have my children play outside all day long (I would let them if I could), it helps to try some other things.
- Online Resources. The internet is filled with free printables and homeschool resources which is a good thing but because it’s so saturated I have to spend a lot of time trying to comb through the good ones that go with my teaching style and my children’s learning styles.
- A Beka. A Beka is highly recommended by homeschooling friends. In June, we attended our first homeschool convention. My favorite part about the whole thing was getting into the exhibit hall. There were hundreds of vendors and many curriculum models to choose from. We picked A Beka just to try it for ourselves. It requires 2 hours of “sit down” work for kindergarten which may or may not work for us.
Looking back in my childhood, I learned so many things under the tutelage of my parents. I learned how to sing, how to do dramas/plays, how to grow plants, how to raise chickens, how to paint, and many other how-tos. While at school, I learned to read, study, play, fight and make up with friends, ride a bike, do different arts and crafts, etc. I spent a total of 14 years in school as a student, and I have seen and experienced the positives and negatives of it.
In homeschooling my children, I want to put everything together and create balance. I want the regularity and consistency that comes with formal schooling. In my personal experience, a regular schedule kept me motivated and helped me achieve certain goals. I definitely would want to make it a big part of our homeschool life. That’s how positive habits and skills are formed as well. I also want to guide my children in not just one direction (intellect) but in several directions where they can explore various subject areas integrated with faith and learning. Homeschooling presents an opportunity to give ample attention to each child and cater to their specific needs while at the same time giving them more time each day to do the things they love to do. As parents-teachers it also gives us the right to take charge of our children’s needs, evaluate each child accordingly and provide the necessary means for them to grow, learn and thrive under our care.
Our children are only 2 and 5 year olds and we are often asked if we send our children to school or if they can read or count. And because it seemed to be the norm nowadays, we understand. As a former school kid, I love school and appreciate the years I spent in school. Someday, my children will have the same opportunity. But at this very young age, however, our children will benefit greatly from family time and in a nurturing environment. We find it a great privilege to be able to care for them, watch them grow and teach them all the good stuff there is to life. Every family is different but like every family, our purpose it to do what we think is best for our children.
What do you think about homeschooling? Have you done any homeschooling? If so, do you have any recommendations?