How do I choose the best Homeschool curriculum?
The decision to start homeschooling is a brave one. While some parents (especially those with a teaching background) already make this decision from an early stage, most others spend months considering the pros and cons of their decision. The only issue is that beyond this decision, lies the next daunting step – creating and drafting your child’s curriculum. Fret not, we can take you through the step-by-step process which will make your task a lot easier.
1. Determining your level of involvement
Before starting to create your child’s homeschool curriculum, you need to consider how involved you can be in the teaching process. This is easier if you are looking at a preschool homeschooling curriculum but as the level of detail increases in a subject, it might be more difficult to teach the same. If you are looking at a preschool curriculum, it is smarter to create a goal-oriented curriculum and considering that you may be more than capable of teaching the same, there is little to worry about. However, if you are looking for a middle-school or high-school curriculum, you might have to consider which subjects you may or may not be able to teach and create a curriculum accordingly. In such cases, it is advisable to attempt to stick to the standardised curriculum as much as possible.
2. What does your child think?
It is important to remember that at the end of the day, this curriculum is being crafted for your child. As young as they may be, their input is valuable. Asking them about what they are interested in can give you a better understanding of their likes and dislikes. Moreover, having them involved in the creation of a curriculum can motivate them to study especially because it remains based on a foundation of interest that has already been built! This can also help in understanding what learning style suits them better.
3. Gauging their Learning Style
Each child is unique in their learning style. Determining if they learn better by reading and writing, through pictures, or listening or through activity-based lessons can help you create a better curriculum. Look at our article on Different Learning Styles to understand this better but essentially, if your child is handy and loves working on different projects, he or she may as well be a Kinaesthetic learner and your curriculum can include an activity-based subject or system of learning.
4. Selecting subjects for the curriculum
We come to what you may have considered to be the first step of the curriculum drafting process, deciding on which subjects the curriculum should include. In all honesty, this step of intensive research is one you cannot skip. Looking at different curricula that children who attend conventional schools use may give you a good idea about your options. Include subjects that your child is already interested in because this will make learning a more fruitful process for them.
However, while dealing with a preschool homeschooling curriculum, it is important to remember that certain subjects like language and basic arithmetic are essential to the curriculum. Including foreign languages is also an option if that is something you may be interested in and also consider unconventional subjects such as international relations, political science or even a more focused course. Do not forget that some countries (such as India) require all students to write a standardized state board exam and for the same, you might want to consider a more conventional curriculum as a base before adding in unconventional subjects.
Despite everything, there is still a lot more freedom in creating your own curriculum. For example, most schools in India provide only a certain combination of subjects within a stream but you can create a more diverse combination depending on your child’s interests and given that it is permissible by any educational board (if any).
5. Considering an Online Syllabus While some parents might choose to keep their children away from any online material, this option can be helpful for those parents who might be busy. While you may not be able to completely control the material delivery of an online curriculum, you will be able to look at a detailed explanation of the same and choose accordingly, giving you significant control over his or her education. The older children get, the necessity of an online portion increases but at the end of the day, you still remain in control of the intensity of the course material.
6. Financial Feasibility
Most parents believe that a more expensive curriculum guarantees better education or that all curriculums might cost more or less the same, but this is not true. Before finalising your curriculum, it is important to consider its cost. Additional materials for certain subjects such as calculators for math or paintbrushes for art will add to the cost. Additionally, if your curriculum includes topics that are spread across multiple text books instead of one, that might add to your expenditure. If your child is a kinaesthetic learner and there are activity-based learning instances included in your curriculum, that will add to the cost as well. These are just examples, and in reality, you will have to consider every point in the curriculum.
7. Yearly Curricula
Don’t overthink your child’s education. This may seem like a daunting step but make sure you take this curriculum planning one year at a time instead of planning years ahead. It is good to be prepared for an instance in which your child finishes his or her curriculum ahead of time and make additions to the curriculum afterward, but these changes will affect the next year’s curriculum and planning ahead can make this process of change tedious and your planning ahead futile and unnecessary. Your child’s educational needs will change and not planning ahead will reduce your workload and the pressure it will put on your child.
8. Opting for a Program Preview
If all of this seems scary, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Choosing or creating a curriculum can be a huge decision and in such a case, choosing to try out different programs can provide great insight. Trying out a few lessons (Which a lot of homeschool networks may provide) can either help you assess if it really is necessary to create your own curriculum or help you draft a better curriculum yourself.
Last but not the least, we are all led by the wisdom of ages. Talk to parents at local classes, play-groups or at homeschooling networks to understand what awaits you. There is nothing wrong with playing by the book and having a clear opinion on a curriculum (your likes and dislikes with the standard) as well as knowing what your expectations from your curriculum should be will help immensely in the long run.
Withal said, homeschooling can be an amazing experience for you and your child. If you are reading this, you have already made the most important decision and it is important to remember that there is nothing that lies ahead that you cannot take on. Remember to enjoy this process and do not forget to make sure that your child has fun too! Happy homeschool planning!