First How, Then What

June 19, 2006 @ 11:50 am | Filed under:

The Curriculum Post, Part 2
(Part 1 is here.)

This morning a friend and I were talking about all the homeschooling materials we have bought and never used. Both of us have shelves full of books and resources we used just a little, or thought we’d use but never did, or decided not to use after we got a thorough look at them. We laughed at ourselves for being a ridiculous combination of curriculum junkies and unschoolers. It struck me that I don’t like to use curriculum, I just like to read it.

This is a good thing to know about myself. I like to know what’s out there, what the possibilities are. I love learning about learning: how people learn, what they’re using. And home education materials, the ones for sale in the catalogs, aren’t the sort of thing you find on the shelves of your local library. You might find all the great books that are used in various literature-based programs, for example, but you won’t find the nifty instructors’ guides with the schedules and timelines and all that stuff. And I love seeing the schedules. I’ve never, ever had a desire to follow one strictly, but I like to see other people’s notions of how to structure things.

So much comes down this to question of how. Really, the what is pretty easy to figure out. Math, science, history, literature, art, foreign languages: the details may vary but by and large there’s a body of knowledge most of us would like our children to absorb. We all want them to be able to think logically and communicate well, so reading and writing are generally prominent in our goals for our kids. But how to get there? It’s all about that how.

That’s why I began my answer to the “what curriculum do you recommend” question with that “what kind of homeschooler are you” quiz. It helps you get a feel for what learning style appeals to you—and to your individual kids. Chances are you’ll come up with several different answers within one family. I’ve got one child who likes to immerse herself deeply in one subject or interest at a time, soaking herself in the topic until she is saturated in every pore. The daughter next in line adores boxes and checklists and nice orderly schedules with a Plan spelled out clearly. The nice thing about our tidal homeschooling approach is that I can accommodate both those temperaments and the needs of my three younger children all at the same time. People have a hard time believe it, but really, homeschooling is the easiest thing I do. (And so! much! fun!)

In the days ahead, I’d like to take a closer look at some of the different answers to how. When I take Guilt-Free’s quiz, I always come up either Unschooler or Charlotte Mason Homeschooler, which is no surprise. That fits right in with my whole tidal learning thing—in our low-tide times we are more like unschoolers and in our high-tide times we are more like CMers.

One of the things I have learned about learning is that there is most definitely no one size (or style) that fits all. What works for my kids may not make any sense at all for your kids, and vice versa. But I think it helps all of us to know what’s out there, to see how other people are living and learning. So over the next week I’ll be looking at several different kind of learning styles, using Guilt-Free‘s fun quiz as a jumping off point, and making (and collecting from you!) specific curriculum recommendations for each one. This means I’ll need lots of reader input, so spread the word!

That’s the project. Call it harnessing my inner curriculum junkie for good.

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Kristie says:

    WOW! When I read that ‘you realised that you didn’t like to use curriculum, just read it’ I nearly fell over. That is so me! I am nearly busting my gut….glad I am not alone!
    Love both your blogs,

  2. Angela, Mother Crone says:

    My husband always jokes that I have a “field of dreams” philosophy about homeschool curriculum- “If I buy it, they will learn.” I am forever buy, reading, and then reselling things we didn’t choose to use a year later. I am just thrilled to have such a diversity from which to glean ideas!

  3. Family in Feast and Feria says:

    More Learning

    Don’t miss Lissa’s continuation of the curriculum discussion at The Lilting House.

  4. Theresa says:

    Me too! I learn so much just from reading curriculula, browsing catalogs, reading other folks’ plans and schedules. I don’t use any of it, but it sure helps me figure out what I will use! I thought I was weird. Well, maybe I am, but at least I am not alone!

  5. mrscrumley says:

    Our son is 20 months, but we keep looking at home school options. I had my husband take the quiz separately from me so I could compare our styles. Just as I thought, he was an unschooler. I was a Mr. Potato head- I have an idea in my head but am flexible. It is a great resource and I really appreciate your pointing us to it. Thanks for your blog!

  6. Becky says:

    There must be something in the air because I’ve been thinking about curriculum, too :). Or rather, thinking about not thinking about curriculum, tee hee. I’ve decided there are a few books and CDs that would be nice to have for the kids for next year, and a writing program for Laura for 4th grade (but it’s the simplest and most uncurriculumy one I could find — the others made me squirm).

    Your comment about liking to read curriculum but not use it made me laugh. I’m the same way with cookbooks, too lol. I love reading them, but never use them the way you’re supposed to.

  7. Karen E. says:

    Becky said: “There must be something in the air” ….
    Too funny … that’s EXACTLY what I was going to say. As much as I love to look at curricula, browse the catalogs, buy wonderful new books and plan new things, I had already decided that — for this year, at least — I have enough stuff in this house to plan a curriculum for the next three years. 🙂

    I think we all share this trait because we’re homeschoolers … or, we homeschool because we share this trait: we’re excited about learning, and that’s one of the reasons curricula pile up, whether we unschool or not. It’s just fun to look at all the possibilities.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can you believe that with two grown up homeschoolers (they’ve even graduated from college, one magna cum laude) I still look at the “new” curriculum out there and sigh wistfully that we didn’t get to use it? I sometimes look on with envy at all the resources homeschoolers have now that we didn’t. When we first began the only folks that would sell us teacher’s editions were Rod and Staff. We did an awful lot with library books because we HAD to. So were my kids deprived, not a bit. When we finally could get textbooks we hardly ever finished one. My kids laugh over how little time we spent in formal education and how much wasted time their peers had at school. Tidal learning, eclectic homeschooling, a smattering of Charlotte Mason, we just weren’t school at home types.