Friday, May 30, 2014

Making Curriculum Work For You

For the past four years we've been using 1 of 2 out of the box style curriculums. It was a tough choice for us when we first left behind the curriculum we'd been using. It's easy to feel that way when you are comfortable for something, & it takes courage to step away from what's not working, even if it's familiar, & move forward with something that is unfamiliar but better suited for your needs. 

The curriculums we chose fit those exact needs, & while we may borrow from here or there to fully round out our studies we're not left lacking regardless of what we choose to do. I get that boxed curriculum isn't for everyone & that's okay, because we all need to pick what works best for our families, but I gotta say one thing that really drives me batty is when people say they could never use a curriculum because a small portion here or there doesn't work for them.

Many boxed curriculums were created out of need. As in, a parent created these curriculums to use with their own families & over time their friends found out & wanted in on it. Those same friends had friends who also wanted in on it & assured the original family/author that people would pay for it. And people do. Sure, not all aspects may appeal & please, but that's the beauty of homeschooling, you can make the curriculum work for you instead of bending the child to work with the curriculum.

Which is exactly what we do: make the curriculum work for us. If we feel a book doesn't fit our families needs we drop it, if we find a book that would tie in well with our studies, we add it to our list. If we find an additional craft, movie, website, or outing that will help round out our studies, we attack it with gusto. It's what helps make the curriculum ours, it's what endears it to us, it's what makes us want to recommend it to our friends, & shout all about how awesome it is.

The first thing I do each year when our new instructor guides show up is to find the book list & check it out in full. Now I'm not gonna kid you hear, chances are I know that book list inside out because I've been exploring it prior, but this is my chance to write all over that page & start making firm choices on what books we'll use & what, if any, we'll drop. This year, for instance, with world history being covered in 12 months I had a plethora of books, all so deliciously wonderful, I had to make hard choices about which ones to use & which ones we just wouldn't have time for.

This year I went crazy & not only retyped up our book list but included dates & themes for the books. Our list was extraordinarily long, so we peeked to see what we could find available in audio format, & were pretty amazed with what we found. All the books we found in this format we simply removed from our main list. These books are now assigned throughout the year for him to read. Not only does this help us delve deeper into some time periods & topics, it also allows him to work on goal setting & time management as he learns to complete these books within a set amount of time. 

The rest of the books are put on our World History Book List in chronological order & these are the ones we read together throughout the year. These include our various spines, non-fiction, & historical fiction books.

All of these books are labeled for easy finding on our shelves, baskets, & tables around the home. Now I know it would be so much more simple to put them all in one place, but we're kinda out of bookshelf space & our book baskets are overflowing too. So we put things where they fit & locate them as needed keeping 6 weeks or more worth of books at easy reach. Plus, some books I prefer to preread prior to sharing with the kids.

The coloured labels, in this case green, are for one curriculum, while the quite labels are for another. The letters on them mean something to us, all though we've been asked about them by people pursuing our home library. If you're one of those who happens to be wondering, W stands for World History, & QA stands for Quest For Ancients. Pretty simple, yes?

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