(This article references a free course available to homeschool teachers, called The Goals of Education. It is available for download at www.stepsed.com. This article was excerpted, as were the last two articles, from our Parent/Teacher/Tutor program, course #6, which deals specifically with homeschooling.)
We were working on finding curricula, and started with an assessment of your student’s literacy. What’s next, now that you have a good working understanding of what they can read and understand?
In an earlier course (The Goals of Education, the first of our parent/teacher/tutor courses), you assessed not only your student’s goals, but also the educational goals for the student held by his parents, the state, and by you, the student’s teacher. You then worked to align those goals. In now selecting which electives you will have the student do, you’ll need the results of that course as a guide. If you have not done that course, you should stop now and do it. It’s a free course, available at:
Do that course, and then continue with this one, if you have not done it.
The bottom line at this point in selection of subjects studied – it’s the student’s education. If your student has an interest, that should largely dictate the electives he does. And remember that things like playing baseball in Little League, dancing in a dance class, voice lessons, rebuilding a car engine – any real activity that requires a commitment and which educates the student in some way can and should count as a part of his schooling.
Additionally, and this is a key concern in selecting curricula, your student’s interests regarding required subjects should determine the difficulty and depth of knowledge built into the curricula you select. An example: A student who really hates math does not need or want the toughest, most rigorous math textbook available, does he? Instead, he wants to learn the basics that he’ll need on a day-to-day basis, learn them well, and not be forced into advanced Trig. Another example: A student who loves math may be interested in getting two years of math done in a year, or more. Example: A student who wants to be an astronomer may find the need to do more advanced science and math, and less history or creative electives. The level of difficulty of each subject should be selected based on the student’s interests. Allow him to place the bulk of his time and
energy into subjects he loves, rather than force that time and energy into subjects he does not love, and hence force the student to not love his education.
There are other criteria in selecting curricula. The belief system employed by the student and/or his family could be a determining factor. A fundamentalist Christian family may, as an example, be opposed to a science curricula that pushes evolution as a concept, whereas a family interested in “straight science” may find a faith-based curricula unworkable. In selecting curricula, you’ll need to be aware of any support or resistance you’ll encounter from the student and family in this regard.
Some curricula requires extensive additional resources. You’ll need to do enough research to find out if curricula you’re interested in using does so, and whether or not you have access to the needed resources.
Be wary of curricula that does not offer you some way to look at a sample lesson or two. One way to know whether or not a curricula will work for your student is to have the student actually do a sample lesson or two. If a curricula offers full courses as a sort of demonstration of what they do, so much the better!
Some curricula is VERY expensive to purchase, which can certainly be a concern. Make sure that the curricula that you’re interested in falls into the price range that your student’s family can afford.
A “time honored” curricula may not be a good thing. Any curricula authored in the last 100 years probably focuses on the critical approach to education, and you will need to modify it in delivery. A curricula that does not focus on this approach (tests,grading, student evaluations, critique of the student’s work, etc) would be worth a look, I would think.
Accredited or credentialed curricula just means it has passed the test of the current crew of educators, all steeped in the critical approach. It may not actually mean even that. It may simply indicate that the publisher of the curricula paid an independent
company (not connected to education or government) to “review” the curricula and “accredit” it, as I have seen in many situations. Accreditation or credentialing of a curricula means almost nothing other than, more often than not, someone was paid.
How comprehensive is the curricula you’re considering? Will it only work for a semester or year, how much is there of it? It’s hard to hunt for new curricula every year.
How accurate is the information offered? You yourself should look over a course or two to review how accurate it tends to be in presenting the subject.
Finally, the curricula should provide more than information. It should provide hands-on experience in the subject, making it real for the student.
In short, here are the criteria you should be considering:
- Your educational goals and how the curricula aligns with them.
- The literacy level required to do that curricula.
- The difficulty of the curricula in relation to your student’s interests and abilities.
- Your student’s belief system and how it aligns with the curricula.
- Cost of the curricula, and of additional required resources and their availability.
- Comprehensiveness. Is there enough of it to provide an education?
- Accuracy of the info presented.
- Availability of samples, your student’s reaction to those samples.
- The degree of “critical approach” that the curricula calls for, as a minus.
- The variety of experience provided.
_____As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.
CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)
Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.
Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.
Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.
Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.
Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.
For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.
We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!