Saturday, April 22, 2017

There is No "Best" Curriculum

As a member of quite a few homeschooling groups on Facebook, I cannot tell you how many times a day I see moms posting in these groups asking pretty much the same question:

What is the best curriculum for x grade? or We are going to start homeschooling this year. Where do we start and what is the best curriculum for us to use?

Now don't get me wrong, I fully understand that these moms are mostly looking for helpful suggestions. And it is wonderful for moms in these groups to share ideas.

But there is really no way to give a satisfactory answer to these kinds of questions.

Because, quite frankly, there is no "best" curriculum.

I say this for several reasons.

Every Family is Different

Every family has a different dynamic, different convictions, and different needs.

Some families might be interested in a curriculum that will allow them to combine a wide age range of students for several subjects.

Some moms might have plenty of time and energy to devote to a more elaborate, teacher-led learning experience while others really need their children to be mostly independent in their school work.

Different families run on different schedules due to work or other outside responsibilities. Some homeschool curricula are better suited for one family's schedule than another's.

It is also important that you choose curriculum that aligns as closely as possible with your family's values, convictions, and doctrinal beliefs.

These are all things that can vary widely from one family to the next, and all will play a major role in choosing homeschool curriculum.

Every Child is Different

Even within the same family, what works for one child may not work at all for their siblings.

My brother and I were a good example of this. I was the type of learner who said "Just give me the book and let me read it, answer the questions, write the long reports, and take the tests." My brother on the other hand was the learner who said "Let me choose all my own books and projects, reenact what I am learning in play, make my own costumes, and do all my own stunts."

Obviously when you have such stark differences in learning styles, there is not going to be a "one size fits all" curriculum solution.

Every Subject is Different

Your child might be like me. Growing up, I dearly loved my ABeka Science and History textbooks, but ABeka's math was a disaster for me. Or as another example, while my son enjoyed using Rod & Staff's math for 3 years, we are not the least bit interested in using Rod & Staff for History.

Very few homeschoolers I know use one curriculum across the board for their entire learning experience. It is totally OK, and often quite beneficial, to mix and match according to individual needs.

Every School Year is Different

That program or method that worked wonders for your homeschool this year might very well have you pulling your hair out the next. Why is that?

Because all the time you, your family, and your students are growing and changing.

Schedules change and routines need to be tweaked. New babies come along or grow up to be new students. Activities and interests come and go. The needs of each child change as they grow and mature. Homeschooling is a life thing, and life is always changing. I am thankful God says His mercies are new every morning, because every day definitely brings new needs and changes in our lives as a homeschool family!

I know this may not necessarily satisfy the new mom who is totally overwhelmed by all the multitudes of curriculum options, methods, schedules, and philosophies out there in the wide world of homeschooling. But the best answer I can give is to say:

1. Do lots of research
2. Jump in and try new things
3. Keep what works/Dump what doesn't
4. Repeat #1-3 as often as needed!

Just remember, almost any curriculum out there can be the "best" for you. The key is to keep your end goal in mind and view whatever curriculum or methods you choose as tools rather than masters.

Always focus on teaching the child rather than teaching the curriculum.

So what are your thoughts? Is there one "best" curriculum for everyone? Are you in the process of seeking out the "best" curriculum for your family? I would love to hear from you!

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