Tis the season of announcing next year’s plans, wondering what makes some things work and not others, constantly comparing your own plans to everyone else’s and so forth. In other words, everyone’s talking curricula and next year. Both online and in person, I’ve heard a lot of it over the last few weeks.
One of the better things I got to do was help host a curriculum show and tell. Apparently these are relatively common in homeschool groups and I really encourage everyone out there to do them in their groups. With just a dozen or so parents, we still had a huge number of programs and curricula represented: Singapore Math, Math Mammoth, RightStart, Everyday Math, Story of the World, Spelling Power, Write Source, Explode the Code, Sonlight, Handwriting Without Tears, and many other things all showed up and were strewn across the table.
I’ve been thinking about what makes a curriculum work for me (other than its font choices, of course!). What does it need to appeal to me or make it work for me? My first conclusion is that I hate scripted programs. I hate them so much, I haven’t even really tried any. You know how there’s always a script for standardized testing? As a kid, I can remember wanting to hit my head on the desk when they read it. Even at age six. And as a teacher, I had to pinch myself as I read it. Even a good script doesn’t appeal to me.
I like a well-structured jumping off point. A good central book to serve as a spine. I like being offered ideas, not being told exactly how to do it. When I get that, I like being able to improvise and come up with my own activities and explanations for things.
There’s also the question of what makes a curriculum work for the kids? Honestly, this answer kills me. My kids… (oh, it hurts…) like… workbooks. There. I’ve said it. It’s out. They like sitting down and just doing the next page, building skills slowly and practicing within a very clear boundary. Of course, they also like discussion and reading. They like curling up on the sofa with me and hearing a good story. They like experiments and games and learning through imaginative play. But they also really like workbooks and regularity.
I guess it’s good to know these things about yourself and your kids.