Monday, May 10, 2010

Designing a Curriculum

To be honest, I cringe whenever someone asks, "What curriculum will you use?"  Sometimes when I'm tired, I just answer, "None."  The look in their eyes usually tells me they are either appalled or concerned for my children's well-being, because  we all know that "none" is not an appropriate answer.  I know I use a curriculum, but it's sort of a hodgepodge of my own making.  The reason I answer that way is because the question implies, "What packaged curriculum will you use?"  And to THAT my answer is always, "None."

The real answer?  I'm kind of making it up as we go along with a little help from these guys:

Typical Course of Study - World Book - The common standards and skills students generally must meet or acquire at each grade level.  I don't really use it anymore, but it's a freebie and good to keep for those doubt-filled days when I'll wonder if I'm still keeping up with what they're doing in school.

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School - Similar, but follows an altered version of the classical history progress.  Provides resources for each subject at each grade level.  Can't say enough good things about it.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) - This book changed the way I think about education.  Can be overwhelming, but if I can curb my tendency to "do it all" this will remain one of my favorite books.  Ever.  We plan to center most of our studies around the history progression (the trivium) outlined in the book.  (Update: This book gave me HIVES so I sold it.  We still do a chronological survey of history, but in a very relaxed fashion.)

The materials I will use varies by subject.  Here's an outline of how I choose our resources for core subjects:

Math - We're beginning with Singapore Math. She catches on pretty well but isn't terribly excited by math, so we'll just use the workbooks and do a lot of hands on real world math on the side. (Update: We now use Math Mammoth and Life of Fred for my oldest.)

Reading - This is the bulk of what we'll be doing. Classics, research materials, fun books, everything we can get our hands on. Assigned reading will coincide with whatever we are studying in history.

Grammar - internet worksheets, occasional workbooks, and editing her writing assignments.

Writing - copywork; book projects; journaling; creative writing; research reports

Spelling - copywork; editing her writing; occasional internet lists

History - We're following a chronological study of history, and it looks like we'll have access to some great books at our library. I would prefer to use topic specific books & documentaries whenever possible.

Science - This is one subject where we lean more toward unschooling. The kids will have a huge say in what we study, and we'll basically follow their interests using library books, internet resources, videos, and projects