For many homeschooling parents, no curriculum seems to “fit.” For others, the cost of a full curriculum is more than they can afford. There are all kinds of reasons why some homeschoolers want to design their own curricula: personal, religious, financial, and other reasons all play into the decision.
So where do you start if you want to design your own curriculum? Here are some tips.
What are you hoping to achieve as a homeschooler? This list of goals may include practical academic ones as well as, for example, character development or more family time. Think through the kind of person you want your child to be. What do you want him or her to learn this year? Are there any character issues you’d like to see improve, such as greater independence or more respect of elders? Whatever it is you’d like to accomplish in your homeschool, write it on the goals list.
What Do You Think of When You Think “Education”?
Answering this question will go a long way in helping you decide how to design your own curriculum. If you attended public schools, the term “education” probably conjures up images of teachers, chalkboards, desks, and playgrounds. If you attended private school or were homeschooled yourself, then your ideas of education might be different.
Once you’ve defined what you automatically think of when you think of “education,” adjust and refine that to what you want education to be in your house. You might ask yourself, How could my education experience have been improved? What did I especially like and dislike about my education experience? What about my friends – did they have any complaints or particular things they loved about school?
Your Child’s Interests
Consider your child’s loves, passions, interests, and so forth. Is there something your child always talks about or wants to go see? Does he or she always gravitate toward something in nature (birds, wildlife, plants, rocks), or does he seem especially interested in how things work (engines, motors, machines)?
Think about those things that your child really is interested in, and tie them in to academic subjects. For example, your child may really like dogs, painting, and machines. You could list these along with academic aspects, like this:
Science: Veterinary medicine; care for dogs as pets; origins of the domestic dog
Painting: Study various art techniques in creating paintings of dogs; allow painting to “decorate” worksheets as a reward
History: Trips to various exhibits and museums featuring machines
Painting: Paint machines to study how they work
Social studies: How machines have benefited mankind and how they got started
As you can see, your child’s interests can be tied in to his or her education with a little creative thought.
Contact your local library to see if they have any special services for homeschoolers. Libraries can help a lot in designing unit studies (or they can help you find books on how to design a unit study), and they can help you put together a collection of books on a certain subject.
Now that you know the basics, talk to other homeschooling parents, too, and find out some of their insights. Become part of the homeschool community, and enjoy the process!