Sunday, April 1, 2007

Designing a Homeschool Curriculum

When I began researching homeschooling last fall, I first looked into the full-service Independent Study Programs (ISP's) such as Seton, Kolbe, Our Lady of Victory, and so on. Although I was attracted to the convenience of pre-written lesson plans and record-keeping, the enrollment fees were not within our budget and I was frustrated by the lack of flexibility. Our DD's abilities are all over the map and she needs materials from several different grade levels as a result. Also, many of the ISP's were heavily reliant on traditional textbooks and worksheets as opposed to hands-on activities and reading "living books".

I ended up deciding to put together my own curriculum tailored for DD's abilities and learning style and my own preferred teaching style. Some of my favorite resources for helping to design my own curriculum include:

I also looked at the California State Board of Education Content Standards to get a sense of what learning objectives the public schools set for each grade. However, I do not believe in following a cookie-cutter "one size fits all" scope & sequence decided by some committee of bureaucrats in Sacramento with potentially questionable ideas. One of the great benefits to homeschooling is the freedom from government control over what children learn. Certain parts of the CA standards are a useful reference but it's definitely not something to be constrained by.

Now that I've acquired a bunch of materials, I'm working on putting together lesson plans. Currently, I'm focusing on Language Arts. Today I matched up the worksheets in Language of God Level A from Catholic Heritage Curricula with the corresponding lessons in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise. The next step is to locate some "living books" from the library to supplement. Things like the Words are Categorical series by Brian Cleary and Ruth Heller's language series.

Language Arts, Math, and Religion should be pretty quick since I've got a "spine" program for each (FLL, Right Start Math, and Faith and Life). Science and History will be harder since I don't have a spine. I looked at several but none had the perfect combination of price, appropriate content, and ideal challenge level. I did find some activity books I liked- The Story of the World Activity Book by Susan Wise Bauer and Janice Van Cleave's Science for Every Kid series. I also picked up The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and the Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World for reference. I'm going to supplement with "living books" from the library but first I have to figure out exactly which topics within Ancient History and Biology to teach.


Soutenus said...

What are "living books"?
I have found your website to be very helpful! Thank you for sharing.

Crimson Wife said...

"Living Books" is a term Charlotte Mason used to describe non-fiction books written in a narrative style. The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker is an example of a "living book" for science. Mathematicians are People, Too is an example of one for math.