Homeschooling Curriculum - What to Teach?
When choosing a homeschooling curriculum or designing your own, you really need to decide on your goals for your children first. My goal for my children is for them to have a love of learning and have the necessary skills to be self-directed learners throughout their lifetime. I don't believe in pumping my children full of facts, but rather help them develop the fundamental skills – reading, writing and arithmetic - and teach them how to seek out information.
The things I have learned the best, and retained, were in those areas in which I had an interest and dug into researching myself. When I was in school I “learned” information for many tests and promptly forgot it because it was of no interest or value to me. So what did getting a 95 on the test prove? All it showed was that I was a good test-taker and since I have a good visual memory, could remember things well for short periods of time. That is not really learning and unfortunately, that is what is rewarded in the public school system.
I happened to enjoy math and was good at it, so one year when I had a very poor math teacher I read ahead in my math book figured out how to do everything and quietly taught the kids around me. That year, everyone did very poorly in math except for me and the kids sitting right next to me! I have taught myself drawing, nutrition, website building, marketing skills, animal training, and countless other skills that have been far more valuable than the things I was “taught” in public school and seven plus years of higher education. I am not unique in this - most people use a very small portion of what they often suffered through in the public school system.
So if your goal for homeschooling is simply to remove your children from the negative social environment, then a “school at home” home school curriculum may appeal to you. Often times new homeschoolers feel a sense of security in using a homeschooling curriculum that includes all subjects planned out for them and is similar to the type of curriculum that they experienced. As a brand-new homeschooler the security of a complete “school at home” curriculum may be okay as a starting point but....
Homeschooling Can be So Much More!
Homeschooling Curriculum for Right Brain Thinkers
If you are simply doing “school at home”, you and your children could be missing out on many of the benefits of homeschooling. Public schools do not promote creative thinking or encourage a “right brain” thinking child. I know, because I am a right brain thinker, as are my children. The right side of your brain controls the creative, visual perceptions, and brainstorming skills. Interesting, children labeled as ADHD are most often right brain thinkers. Albert Einstein is considered to have been a right brain thinker, as was Leonardo DaVinci. If your child has been labeled with ADHD, he or she has got some pretty impressive company. Not only Einstein and DaVinci, but a few other famous people are considered to have had ADHD: Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Agatha Christie - just to name a few. For a more extensive list and more information about the positive side of ADHD, visit Steve Plog's The Results Project site.
Writing Curriculum for Right Brain Thinkers and Other Learning Styles
Right Brain Thinkers thrive in activities that allow for creativity and imagination. Why do young children have to copy letters over and over monotonously to develop fine motor skills and good handwriting? Why not let them draw? For the short time my son was in public school (3 months of Kindergarten is all we could take), he brought home worksheets with rows of letters written in which his handwriting was less and less legible as he rushed to get the tedious task done. I had to "de-school" him for a while because he didn't want to look at another worksheet again, but after a while, we began to use Handwriting Without Tears, Draw Write Now and Ed Emberly's drawing books.
Now you may ask how an Ed Emberly drawing book helps with writing skills, but at 5 or 6 years old, my son would spend a lot of time meticulously creating detailed drawings of pirate ships from Emberly's books - and do you know what? His eye-hand coordination and handwriting improved by leaps and bounds without doing those boring writing worksheets!
Homeschooling Curriculum to Fit the Learning Style of the Child
Not all children learn best in the same way or have the same strengths. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences first published in Frames of Mind (1986) introduced this idea. Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences - Linguistic intelligence, Logical-Mathematical intelligence, Musical intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, Spatial intelligence, Interpersonal intelligence, Intrapersonal intelligence The first two are ones that have been typically valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Howard Gardner called 'personal intelligences' In addition, learning styles, or the way people learn best, are often categorized as follows: auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners.
The interesting thing is that teachers are taught all this in teacher education courses, yet schools still teach to the auditory learners with linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, and for the most part, don't value or teach to the other types of learners and intelligences.
When homeschooling, you can choose or develop a curriculum and learning materials that maximize on your children's strengths, while developing skills in their weaker learning styles and intelligences. Why can't your kinesthetic learner build with Lego while listening to you read? When my son was about 6 years old I was reading aloud and thought he wasn't paying attention because he was playing with his Lego. As soon as I stopped reading, he swung his head round to look right at me and exclaimed, “Go on!, Go on!” He concentrates best by moving. He doesn't move quite as much as he used to when he was younger, but he will still occasionally walk round in circles when figuring out a challenging math problem.
A Self-Directed Learning Curriculum
Since one of my major goals for my children is to develop continual learners, I choose materials for our homeschool curriculum that promote independence, or that works toward that goal. Also, since I run a business from my home, having my children work toward the goal of more independent learning as they grow older makes it easier to accomplish more in my business. By the way, running a home business is a very valuable learning experience for children too. As they get older they can even take part or develop their own ideas for their own business. Which leads us to....
Entrepreneurship as Part of Your Homeschooling Curriculum
My son has shown signs of his entrepreneurial spirit since he was very young – 3 or 4 years old. At that age he planned on owning a helicoptor and trading maple syrup for monkeys when he grew up! When we were having trouble locating a gerbil after calling a whole list of pet stores, he exclaimed, “That can be my next business! Obviously there is a gerbil shortage!”
However, even if your child is not the next Donald Trump or Michael Dell, he or she can still benefit from entrepreneurial activities.
Before the industrial revolution the majority of people were entrepreneurs. In fact it was because of the industrial revolution that our public schools in America were first started – to develop workers. The foundation of our public schools were based on developing an employee mindset – following directions, doing repetitive tasks, following a schedule, shifting from task to task with the ringing of the bell, not questioning authority. Our public school system still rewards those behaviors and does not promote the skills necessary for entrepreneurship – creativity, divergent thinking, seeking multiple solutions to a problem, questioning the way things have always been done in the effort to create a better way, etc.
Entrepreneurship can develop a sense of self-worth, accomplishment and can develop skills that children can use throughout their lifetime, to provide for themselves and their families.
Lifeskills as Part of Your Homeschooling Curriculum
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that life can become the classroom. Your 10 year old can learn and develop math skills by measuring, cutting wood and constructing a birdhouse. Your teenager can be in charge of bookkeeping for your business as part of his math curriculum. How about creating a website to develop computer and writing skills? A gardening project as part of your science curriculum? The possibilities are endless when you make the whole world your classroom!
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Advantages of Homeschooling