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Old 07-18-2010, 08:51 PM   #1
KCMommy
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Do I really need a curriculum??

We just made the decision to homeschool! YAY! As I explore curriculum I can't help but ask, do we really need it?

My oldest is 3 and we plan to start preschool this year. My intent was to focus on simple bible study, pre-reading, pre-writting, early math, etc. I found a bunch of free worksheets online to supplement but mostly I planned to play and learn.

So, this brings me back to my original question...do we really need a curriculum? Will this likely change as my kids get older?

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Old 07-18-2010, 10:07 PM   #2
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

That is really a personal thing and also may be effected by the requirements of the state you are in. Tx is a very lenient state so we don't need a curriculum to meet state requirements, but I wouldn't be able to do it without one. I am just to scatter brained and flighty. Though I am a very organized person if there isn't some semblance of order I just get overwhelmed and don't know what to do next. We have tons of work books as well as free websites to print things from but I really need something that helps me schedule our day. I also have a hard time knowing how to teach my child something. I know how to do it but not necessarily how to explain it to some one else. I also learn a bit differently than other people. I was often told by my teachers that I did things backwards, especially in math. I understood them, I just understood them differently. Some things I don't remember learning at all, I just kind of knew them or figured them out in my head before we were supposed to learn how to do it. Which makes it hard for me to know what is age appropriate understanding for a child or how to explain something.

In the preschool years curriculum is far less important. Having fun websites to use and some free supplement sheets are probably all you need. Teaching the basics like letter recognition and playing with math manipulatives is easy and probably all that is necessary. We use a free online curriculum even for pre-K but it is just simple stuff, mostly hands on and play. My youngest is 4.5 so we are working on helping him get into a more structured schooling mode. My oldest is almost 9 and I couldn't do school without a curriculum for him. I would have no idea where to start. However because we use a low pressure (and free) curriculum we are free to go off on our own when we want to. I may make a "unit study" out of something he is particularly interested in at the moment like when we spent two weeks learning about Knights. We spend a week or two before Chinese New Year studying new year traditions and preparing for a big celebration. Things like that. We can do these things because we do home school so we are flexible on when we take breaks. But having the curriculum allows me to just go with the flow when I don't have any ideas in mind of what to do with him.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

Like the other mama said, it really depends on you. There are plenty of moms out there doing unschooling or homeschooling without a curriculum, but that just doesn't work for me. In preschool, I wouldn't think it is necessary... but they come in such bright, colorful packages, it is hard to pass up. I think preschool should really be a lot of fun, educational playtime. DD is going into 5th grade though, and I know myself well enough to know that unless I have a set plan out for what is going to be accomplished, I will get side tracked and we will get behind. At her age, she needs to be making adequate progress... playtime doesn't cut it in my mind.

I think the people that make the best unschooling parents (when I hear no curriculum, it makes me think of unschooling... forgive me if that's an assumption) are people that are organized, dedicated, and possibly have a history of work in education.

Now, if you're talking about prepackaged curriculum vs. picking your own materials, I think that is very do-able. Especially with books such as The Well Trained Mind that have many suggestions on what topics should be covered each year. Personally, I love the idea of picking my own materials, but I again just think that DD gets a better education with the virtual school program she is in right now and she is monitored by a teacher and I have less paperwork and she is more independent in her work than she would be if I had each lesson plan myself...... and... Yeah, it just works better for us.

You can use this time to play around with some options and find what works best for your family, and then by the time you are responsible to report to the state, you may be feeling quite comfortable with the path you are on.
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:45 AM   #4
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

Nope. Totally not necessary, not in Pre-K, not in any grade. Helpful? Sure. Not a requirement though. We don't use one boxed curriculum, however we do use parts and pieces of materials that we like and that interest us. There is SO MUCH free information and resources available now, via internet, HS groups, library, and fellow HS'ers, that buying anything is really about choice and not necessity. For a 3 year old, I'd do lots of outside time, developing large motor skills, observing nature, and burning off that energy! I would read as often as possible, and read good quality books, lists from Sonlight, Caldecott award winners, and Ambleside online year 0. Visit interesting places, the library, the petting farm, a plant nursery, aquarium, post office, ect. We have learned so much more experiencing life than sitting down to do workbooks or worksheets. Any writing/coloring/crafts at this age should be open ended and free. For us, in the early years, (like up to age 8 or so, depending on the child) the main focus is character training and life skills. Reading, writing, math, and all that can be learned by just doing. There are lots of books and webpages that will give you ideas for incorporating those subjects into your everyday life. Why would you give a child a worksheet that says "If you had 3 cookies and you gave me one, how many would you have?" when you could actually DO that and it would be more fun, more meaningful, and more organic? Same with writing, let them learn to write by scribbling, seeing you write, and allowing them to ask how to write certain letters. My dd, at 3, was asking how to 'draw' letters. We wrote in sand, shaving cream, with chalk, dry erase markers, sticks, and a multitude of other things. At 5, she has really nice penmanship, can write all her letters from memory, and is spelling words like walrus and avocado. All without any formal, sit at the table instruction, pressure, or fuss. She writes my grocery lists, to-do lists, letters and postcards to friends and family, ect.

What we have done for a few years is I look up the scope and sequence for whatever age/grade I would put her in. There are lots of free resources for this, but one book I would HIGHLY recommend buying (I got mine from amozon, used, for just under $1) is Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. She goes from pre-k to high school and gives you the national 'standards' for each grade. I've just gone by that and check things off the list as we achieve them. I can taylor the style of leaning to each child, while ensuring that we have a 'list' and accountability for when we need to report to the state. By the same author is another book, The Home School Source Book (gotta make sure on that title, it's not in front of me atm) which goes through every single subject and gives you ideas for games, websites, books, and activities to help teach/learn that. So you could look up learning to identify numbers/one-to-one correspondence, and it would list 20 different books, webpages, or activities to teach that. Again, it goes from the most basic pre-k stuff to complicated high school subjects. That way, you could either follow a curriculum or not, but you'd have a nice spine of what to do when.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:10 PM   #5
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

With Preschook especially there is a lot you can do with out buying a curriculum. It does get harder later on.
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:02 PM   #6
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

No, particularly for pre-k. It's easier to say the least to buy curriculum later on, but for pre-k......I think it's overkill....and a waste of money. That's just my personal opinion.
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Old 07-20-2010, 06:13 AM   #7
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

I like Before Five in a Row for the little guys. Then moving onto Five in a Row then a real curriculum for older kids.

Just have fun!!!
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:58 PM   #8
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

We've been adding more curriculum as we go. dd, 7 yo has a good amount of curricula (we will be doing MFW Adventures this year) but ds 4 has had none t othis point (besides the lettery factory dvd) and will just have 100 ez lessons to teach your child to read this year.
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:42 PM   #9
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2abigail View Post
Nope. Totally not necessary, not in Pre-K, not in any grade. Helpful? Sure. Not a requirement though. We don't use one boxed curriculum, however we do use parts and pieces of materials that we like and that interest us. There is SO MUCH free information and resources available now, via internet, HS groups, library, and fellow HS'ers, that buying anything is really about choice and not necessity. For a 3 year old, I'd do lots of outside time, developing large motor skills, observing nature, and burning off that energy! I would read as often as possible, and read good quality books, lists from Sonlight, Caldecott award winners, and Ambleside online year 0. Visit interesting places, the library, the petting farm, a plant nursery, aquarium, post office, ect. We have learned so much more experiencing life than sitting down to do workbooks or worksheets. Any writing/coloring/crafts at this age should be open ended and free. For us, in the early years, (like up to age 8 or so, depending on the child) the main focus is character training and life skills. Reading, writing, math, and all that can be learned by just doing. There are lots of books and webpages that will give you ideas for incorporating those subjects into your everyday life. Why would you give a child a worksheet that says "If you had 3 cookies and you gave me one, how many would you have?" when you could actually DO that and it would be more fun, more meaningful, and more organic? Same with writing, let them learn to write by scribbling, seeing you write, and allowing them to ask how to write certain letters. My dd, at 3, was asking how to 'draw' letters. We wrote in sand, shaving cream, with chalk, dry erase markers, sticks, and a multitude of other things. At 5, she has really nice penmanship, can write all her letters from memory, and is spelling words like walrus and avocado. All without any formal, sit at the table instruction, pressure, or fuss. She writes my grocery lists, to-do lists, letters and postcards to friends and family, ect.

What we have done for a few years is I look up the scope and sequence for whatever age/grade I would put her in. There are lots of free resources for this, but one book I would HIGHLY recommend buying (I got mine from amozon, used, for just under $1) is Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. She goes from pre-k to high school and gives you the national 'standards' for each grade. I've just gone by that and check things off the list as we achieve them. I can taylor the style of leaning to each child, while ensuring that we have a 'list' and accountability for when we need to report to the state. By the same author is another book, The Home School Source Book (gotta make sure on that title, it's not in front of me atm) which goes through every single subject and gives you ideas for games, websites, books, and activities to help teach/learn that. So you could look up learning to identify numbers/one-to-one correspondence, and it would list 20 different books, webpages, or activities to teach that. Again, it goes from the most basic pre-k stuff to complicated high school subjects. That way, you could either follow a curriculum or not, but you'd have a nice spine of what to do when.



TOTALLY AGREE!

I read this awesome book called something like "And you shall raise them up" or something like that. Talked all about the whole 'curriculum' thing. His points were about raising the kids up in the way they are gifted and talented, not in the way the 'world' sees fit. Think about WHY you are homeschooling and then consider why you are copying the very system you are avoiding? Isn't it better to raise your kid in a way that will bring them joy & peace and end up on the right path?

Or focus on test scores so they become 'highly' educated and completely miserable the rest of their lives because they are in a career they hate because of the $$ or status of so-called 'success'?

These are my thoughts and once I figured out that I COULD get all the standardized tests and 'requirements' for each grade and teach that.... well, that would be easy, but is that EDUCATING them? What good is trigonometry when they don't learn how to balance a checkbook or use a recipe?

anyway, that is my spew and I usually get flamed from those that chose strict curriculum. You don't HAVE to be like me or like anybody else. Each child will learn best differently too. Yes, states do have specific requirements, but there is always a way to work with them to suit the best needs of each child and parent's styles of learning/teaching. Make it interesting and fun and Life-Applicable!

We spent each Wed. one summer at a Farmer's market. The kids who were able made a 'craft' and had to sell it. This was during our interest in Colonial America and we fit the market into our teachings. Back in the day this is how many people sold their wares! The girls wore their Colonial American dresses they helped me sew and had a BLAST! They'd often get their picture in the paper because it was such a unique way of teaching them economics and everything else that came with the whole lesson.

We explore the world thru walks, thru the library, thru movies, thru museums, vacations, etc. It is very exciting and full of things to learn! We found an owl pellet one day at the dr office while the kids were walking around the building. Guess what? HOMESCHOOL LESSON about owls happened later that day! SCIENCE and BIOLOGY.

We garden and identify plants: SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, HEALTH.

One kid breaks his leg, another has seizures and another kid gets a huge gaping wound on her head: FIRST AID (as I treat I talk & quiz them on what to do)

Cooking is easy lessons on math esp when dividing and doubling the recipe.

We go to Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupons to learn about money and math and budgeting!

www.hoodamath.com is a FANTASTIC website to learn physics and logic without having to purchase hands-on kits. Great for all ages.

I've heard Five in a Row is excellent too.

I have a 9 year old that cannot read yet (special needs) so she tells stories to me or her sisters and they type it for her. She carries those stories around with pride and draws pictures for them as she slowly is learning to read and spell at her pace. They are a treasure to her and she feels a sense of accomplishment and self worth, even though in the traditional system she would be considered retarted with her IQ of 80. Most people meeting her would not be able to tell she was at that level.

Building blocks and mosaic blocks teach logic and problem solving: MATH

We started Fencing, Drama and dance class with a new group in our area ( www.lil' learners.net) that teaches similar to me and I am amazed at how my kids are blossoming! They just completed a 5 day Drama camp and my kids remembered their lines and exceeded all expectations when the final Play happened! Because they worked with each kid at their level and got them to stimulate a new part of their brain! They are a totally awesome group of teachers that really want to bring a new paradigm to the 'schooling' community. Kids learn in such different ways than we think.

so sorry for such a long post. Can you tell this is my passion?!
btw, I am a totally 'lazy' mom .... for those that think this is a highly organized thing ... it isn't for me and my kids are proving me proud each time they are put to the test in life! Even in a 'traditional writing' class they took. Just blew me & the teacher away because I don't book-teach language arts. They still get it and surpassed the other rigidly-taught homeschooled kids!

I want my kids to be 'out of the box' thinkers. Not a bunch of robots.
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Last edited by madebytrudi; 07-24-2010 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:52 PM   #10
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Re: Do I really need a curriculum??

At that age, no, I didn't use a curriculum. I just had lots of books, and bought a few simple workbooks. You can do school at this age with having to buy very little! Good luck!
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