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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Selecting your Curriculum

By Anisa Abeytia

Freelance Writer and Integrative Health Specialist — UAE
When selecting a curriculum you should ask yourself:

1. How involved in teaching do you want to be?

How much of the teaching do you want to do and how much of it do you want someone else to do? If you want to do as little teaching as possible, a curriculum that also provides teacher support is for you. K-12 and Calvert provide such services (distance learning) as well as public and charter schools.

2. What would you like your child to take away from their schooling?

Growing up I had a big problem with the way history was taught, and how most of the world was excluded in those lessons. I also did not like all the workbook work, and how you were never taught real world skills like how to cook, sew on a button, get along with others or manage money. I found school lacking in many ways, so I did not want to emulate it at home, (although a school does have many redeeming qualities).

I also did not like the lack of diversity. If you feel this way, you can still use a boxed curriculum, but also bring in other resources. If you do choose that way, you may end up not using all the resources. I like to have the freedom to pick and choose without feeling I am wasting money on unused curriculum, with that said, that type of curriculum is a good way to start because everything is included.


My Two Cents

Although everyone is different, I do not use a boxed curriculum. I developed my own for each subject. I wanted to be very engaged in the teaching process, and I knew exactly what I wanted my children to get out of their education .

When I first began I would follow along with the state of California’s curriculum for each year. Then I moved to comprehensive curriculum books for each grade. These were not strong on math or science, but were good for language arts. In the end I always returned to my teaching method. I also did not feel obligated to teach them ever subject. When we were in the US my children had a science tutor, and took classes in pubic speaking, karate, swimming and drawing. Once we moved to Dubai I reassessed what I would do, and once again altered our curriculum. You may find yourself reassessing as well.

When homeschooling, it is a good idea to remain flexible, that way your program can grow with you. Everyday we do sit down work (about one hour), but once a week I also teach art, science, math and social studies/geography. We do these classes jointly and they are geared from kindergarten to 5th grade. Each class lasts two to three hours each.

School In-a-Box

Depending on your needs there are many homeschooling curriculums to pick from. These curriculums are prepackaged and target different grades, some are K through 12 while others many only cover the primary grades. In addition to these, there are programs provided by public schools and charter schools. The school provides all of the curriculum so it basically is school at home. There are also private schools that also provide this service, and you can be anywhere in the world and still use them.

Public and charter school programs are not distance learning programs; the student/s must be close enough for the teacher or student to make weekly or monthly visits. There are distance learning programs, Calvert being most well known and there are online programs. Some programs offer both options, distance and online. Many homeschoolers also start co-opts.The following is a list of some of the most popular homeschool options available:

Co-Opts


Here a group of parents gather together to teach their children jointly. Sometimes this can turn into a school.

Calvert

This program (also a brick and mortar school) is over 100 years old and is based in the US. It provides a pre packaged curriculum for graded K-6 and provides teacher support. They also issue transcripts if you select that option.

K-12

There is distance learning and a online program that provides prepackaged curriculums as well as transcripts. This program provides teacher support. Their international headquarters are located in Dubai, UAE. The program is a bit expensive, but it provides a lot of teaching support and is fully accredited in many countries.

A Well Trained Mind

This is a classical based curriculum in the sense the it focuses on the “basic” or fundamentals of learning. It requires parent participation, and a bit of discipline. It is a distance learning program. This is also referred to as the Trivium, to distinguish it from the classical approach.

Time for Learning

This is a completely online program. The primary curriculum is math and language arts. However, when you sigh up they provide a science a history program for free.

Waldorf

Waldorf has its own homeschooling curriculum already packaged if you choose to use the Waldorf method. Although not necessary, it does make it easier to have all the material provided.

Unit Studies

These are whole curriculum based curriculum that provides a literature based approach to learning. Each unit is based on a topic like the environment, the solar system or seasons.
Based on the literature or books used in the unit, the child will cover all subjects from writing, science to math. Each unit provides a sample weekly planer. Teacher Created Materials offers many study units, and you can find them through many online book sellers like Amazon.com

Living Texts/”Twaddle” Free Zones

This curriculum is based on the Charlotte Manson’s (see Part One) method. It will guide you on what books you can use to base your lessons on.

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