"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:4, 5 (NIV)

Choosing A Curriculum

Curriculum is available from many companies, in every style imaginable. With so many curriculum choices available, how do you choose?

Limit your choices by looking at: your beliefs, your child's learning style, your teaching schedule, your child's skills, your budget, goals and priorities.
  1. Know your goals. These might include academic, spiritual, or character goals; long term and short term goals.
  2. Know your priorities.
  3. Know your child's (or children's) learning style(s.) How does your child learn best? (for more information, see Reading List.)
  4. Know your teaching style. Even if your child learns best through hands-on activities, this might not be the best choice for a craft-challenged parent!
  5. You'll want to choose curriculum that suits both you AND your children.
One excellent resource to help determine your child's learning style (how he prefers to receive information) is the Christian Home Educator's Curriculum Manual by Cathy Duffy. The three main ways that people gather information are:
  • Visual (we like to see)
  • Auditory (we like to hear)
  • Kinesthetic (we like to touch)
Most people learn in various ways but will often have a preference, especially for learning difficult concepts. If your child is visual, he may benefit from demonstrations. If he is auditory, lectures may be more effective. If your child is kinesthetic, touch (hands-on) will be very important.

Use this information to choose curriculum materials and methods that will best suit you and your family.

Philosophies of Education

All curriculum is created based on different philosophies of education. Before you choose curriculum, you will want to learn its underlying philosophy to see how it aligns with your own. Following are brief descriptions of some of the more common teaching approaches.

Classical Education

Classical Education is based on a medieval model of education. It consists of two basic parts: the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The Trivium includes: The Grammar Period (mastery of facts), the Dialectic Period (study of logic) and the Rhetoric Period (expressive or creative use of language). The Classical Approach emphasizes learning how to learn, and so may be used in the study of any subject.

"The sole true end of education is simply this; to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain." --Dorothy Sayers.

Resources:
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, by Douglas Wilson
Dorothy Sayers' essay "Lost Art of Learning" found in her book Are Women Human?
The Closing of the American Mind, by Alan Bloom

Principle Approach

This is an effort to restore to American Christians: The knowledge of our Christian history, an understanding of our role in the spread of Christianity, and the ability to live according to the Biblical principles upon which our country was founded.

Resources:
A Guide to American Christian Education for the Home and School: The Principle Approach, by James B. Rose
The Principle Approach, by Stephen McDowell

Accelerated Education

This method allows children to graduate from high school much more rapidly than normal and go on to college (or higher education) at an earlier age. It is highly structured and scheduled with fairly rigid daily and long term goals.

Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason was a 19th century British educator who was instrumental in founding a chain of parent-controlled schools and influenced many families educational home-life. She advocated using "living books", those written by a single author who shares his favorite subject and his enthusiasm is picked up by the readers, and first-hand sources. Uses extensive narration from the student as a learning tool. Short lessons with immediate feedback are encouraged.

Resources:
The Original Homeschool Series (6 vol.) By Charlotte Mason
For the Children's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual, by Catherine Levison
More Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual, by Catherine Levison
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola
Parent's Review - a 40 pg. quarterly for home training and culture
Charlotte Mason Research Supply Co., P.O. Box 936, Elkton, MD 21921-0936
You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, by Dr. Ruth Beechick

Unit Studies

All subject areas are related to a particular topic. Families learn together, studying the same topics at the same time and doing many activities together, each challenged at his/her own level. Usually all the senses are used at some point during the unit. Unit studies strive to address the question "Did the child understand what he wrote, does he know in his mind what he studied, and can he apply it to real life?" Jessica Hulcey, co-author of KONOS unit study curriculum, states "units offer retention of material covered, challenge to individual potential and room to think for oneself."

Resources:
How to Write a Low Cost/No Cost Curriculum, by Borg Henderson

KONOS

Independent Learning

This teaching style emphasizes excellent study habits so that the child will learn to learn on his own. It follows the belief that learning is not a "team sport" but involves solely the student and the knowledge. It strives to give the student the means to acquire knowledge and master skills on his own, essentially learning to rely on himself for finding out facts and information: a very valuable, and unfortunately often lacking, adult skill.

Christian Textbooks/Workbooks

A more structured approach with books generally written at a level of understanding for the age/grade of the child, making them easier for the teacher to teach or guide the student. Many come with teacher's handbooks, or the handbooks can be purchased separately, but they are not always necessary.

Resources:

See Curriculum Sources Below

Unschooling

Uses everyday life experiences as the building blocks for the child's education. It is unstructured and informal, relying on the child's natural curiosity about the world and natural desire to learn to be the motivating factors in education. Children are allowed to explore things that interest them and learn at their own pace.

Resources:
Teach Your Own and How Children Learn, by John Holt

Eclectic Approach

This is a combination of any of the previous teaching methods.

Your teaching style, whatever it is, needs to work for you. If it does, you will succeed in whatever teaching method you choose. Your style may be very close to one or more of those that we have listed, but it will ultimately be unique to you.

Curriculum Sources

Homeschool curriculum is sold by many publishing houses. Catalogues are generally free on request. The following resources are just a few of the many vendors available to homeschoolers:

Used Books:

  • Used book sales at various locations announced throughout the year via the newsletter and e-mail system.
  • Great Books Home School Store 303-274-0680
  • Salt and Light Learning in Loveland, CO 1-970-278-0322 www.saltandlightlearning.com