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Building the Curricula You Will Use to Homeschool

Although the list of subjects is what you will teach, the curricula are how you will teach those subjects. You will need a curriculum for each subject for each student for each year.

What Is a Curriculum and Why Is It Important?

People often use the term curriculum for the book or books you will use to teach a subject. However, the term actually refers more generally to the methods and means you will use to teach a subject. Books are only one component of a curriculum. As you will learn in this section, there are many other aspects of a curriculum that you can use to teach more effectively.

The curricula you use are very important because they define how you will teach each subject, the coverage of that subject for a year, and the materials and means you will use as you teach. Developing a curriculum for a subject is the second most time-intensive part of planning for a school year (with lesson planning being the single task that will require the most time). It is extremely important because the effectiveness of the curriculum you create will play a major role in determining how well your children learn.

Identifying Academic Elements of a Curriculum

The core element of most curricula that you use is likely to be the academic elements; by that I mean the traditional aspects of school, such as textbooks, homework, and so on. These elements are important because they form the basis of understanding of most subjects. You can use other elements of a curriculum to build on this, but most subjects will have an academic element.

Identifying Experiential Elements of a Curriculum

As the old expression goes, "Experience is the best teacher." Fortunately, homeschooling enables you to make the most of this teacher by including lots of experiential elements in the curricula you use. Some of the experiential elements of a curriculum can include the following:

  • Field trips. Field trips are a great way to make the academic part of a curriculum come alive for your students. Field trips can be included in the curriculum for almost every subject; including the obvious ones, such as history, science, and the arts; and the not-so-obvious ones, such as math.
  • Music lessons, sports, service work, and other activities. These activities add a great dimension to your homeschool experience. They teach many lessons and provide your students with the chance to put what they learn into practice in real-life situations.
  • Home projects. Projects around the house (or at someone else's house) can be an excellent way to help students exercise many of the subjects they are learning together and for a real purpose. For example, a home improvement project can teach students real-world applications of math and science. It also helps with organization and planning skills.
As your children advance in grade, you should expect to increase the use of tutors and outside classes, especially as they approach high school.

Identifying Needs for a Tutor or Outside Classes for a Curriculum

In some cases, you might realize that you might not be qualified and have the desire to teach a specific subject. Or, you might want your children to have experiences being taught by other people. For these reasons, tutors and outside classes can be a valuable component of a subject's curriculum.

Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling, by Brad Miser, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit http://www.informit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0789732777 to order your own copy.


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