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Choosing Curriculum: It’s in the Bag
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I have a bag weakness. Whether it be a purse, a tote, laptop bag, or really any type of fabric/leather bag, I may just start swooning. For me, there’s something about a colorful, attractive, well-sewn bag that just makes whatever you are using it for seem more doable or at least more fun.

At this point, you may just be wondering what my clear love of bags has to do with what I look for in a curriculum. I promise I am getting there.

Think about it with me. Let’s say you are in the market for a new purse. You want something that will be functional, hold all the essentials, keep you organized, lasts, is economical and maybe even has a little pizazz. Interestingly enough, those are some of the same requirements I look for in curriculum.

Functional

I look for a curriculum that is functional. I need it to be able to be usable and to be done well. For my family, a curriculum that provides me ways to adapt some days and a curriculum that is “open and go” other days is ideal. It also must work for my 3 different children who all have different strengths and areas for improvement. In my family’s hectic life of sports, the curriculum has to be one that can be brought with us at times in our travel. In other words, the curriculum has to be functional not just in our home, but sometimes on the go.

Hold All the Essentials

My family’s curriculum must hold all the essentials. By that I mean, it has to build a solid educational foundation in its subjects. I want something that grows more in depth, especially as they enter junior high and high school. For our family, it must also have a biblical worldview. I also have found great value in a curriculum that engages my children in critical thinking skills. I don’t want simple regurgitation of what they have just read or done. I get excited when I see and hear my children explaining how things connect or why they have such an impact. Those are the types of essentials that will prepare them not only for higher education, but for life in general.

Keeps You Organized

A curriculum that has me, as the teacher, in mind is critical. I learned after several years of using different curriculums that the teacher’s manual is my greatest resource in teaching. I discovered I teach best when I have the resources all in one place. No trips back and forth to our small library waiting on interlibrary loans. We tried that and we ended up feeling behind because we didn’t have certain resources we needed each day. I like my resources to arrive at my door and am happy to go supplement if I deem necessary or fun. A teacher’s manual that lays out a schedule, lesson plans, and answers makes me a better teacher because I am prepared and organized. A solid teacher’s manual, in my opinion, allows you to follow it closely or to use it as a general overview for you as the teacher.

Lasts

I need a curriculum that will last. I look at this in several ways. Will it take my children through high school? Will it be a curriculum that allows us to use resources such as distance learning at the various ages? Will it be a curriculum I can use again with subsequent children? In my orderly mind, I need to see where we are going. I didn’t realize how important finding a curriculum that would allow me to go from elementary through high school would be. With a full curriculum like this, I am confident that there will not be any gaps in their education. I also did not know how much I would value distance learning as an option for my children. Life experiences this past year has made having DVD lessons critical for our homeschool. The kids were able to continue with school even when mom had to travel to care for family members. And, having resources I can use again for additional children is great. I may have to purchase consumables, but knowing I have the textbooks and teacher’s manuals that can be used again is a relief.

Economical

I learned that finding a curriculum that is economical does not necessarily mean it is the cheapest. When we first started out homeschooling, my husband wanted me to get a great curriculum but favored less expensive ones. After 4 years of trying to find curriculum that met his needs, the needs of our children, and my needs as a teacher, let’s just say there were several failed attempts. Curriculum that sat and wasn’t used in the end was not only ineffective but also not economical. Curriculum that was less expensive but required supplements to make it meatier was not economical. It also took away time from us as we searched for a new curriculum. In terms of economics, there was also an impact in the continuity of learning when we kept switching. Now, we approach economics in terms of balancing the finances, learning and our time.

Pizazz

A little pizazz keeps my children and me engaged. Whether it be colorful pages, great literature, exciting experiments and activities, or funny DVD instructors, we value these extra touches in our curriculum. They cannot take away from the learning, but must enhance it. That pizazz makes teaching and learning a little more exciting each day! And, who am I kidding, I need that pizazz to get me through the year!

As we enter our 8th year of homeschooling, I find joy and peace in knowing we use a curriculum that meets my family’s needs and allows my children to excel. I still notice and appreciate what others are using, but I know that what’s in my bag, or in this case curriculum, is perfect for us!

Debra Schroeder
HomeWorks by Precept Consultant
www.homeworksbyprecept.com/Debra-Schroeder


 

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