Whew, it’s been a busy few weeks, so I am finally getting to this segment. In part 1, we explored how to find curriculum plans that are economical and flexible. I am a firm supporter and proponent of homeschooling not being expensive. There really is no reason. More expensive never equals better education–if only our public schools could learn that!
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Getting outisde the Box
With the rise in box curriculum, homeschooling has become easier and harder at the same time. Far too often, the precident set by the big box curriculum manufacturers leads parents to feel that learning requires many steps, piles of worksheets, intense testing, and expensive textbooks. Parents chase this ideal, piling on expense on top of expense, and beging the year already overwhelmed. After that is the heavy weight of attempting to recreate school at home!
Now, that is not to say that textbooks should never be used. There are plenty of wonderful, well produced textbooks. There are subjects, such as mathmatics, that are just easier taught through a textbook. Additionally, there are superb box curriculum companies with splendid study plans and resources. What is most important is to do what works for you. Choose what you need to support your teaching style and lifestyle. Pick the plan, style, and resources that work for your child’s gifts and needs. It is important to remember that YOU are your school. Even with state regulations, you are still the one in charge.
Learning without Books
Today, I want to focus on moving beyond the books, not just textbooks but all books. Now, do not get me wrong, I LOVE BOOKS!! Books are always welcome in my home, and the most dangerous words in my lexicon are “Books for Sale,” topped only by the deadly, “Free Books!” So in no way am I discounting the value of books. Learning to read opens doors and worlds that even the most amazing website never can. However, let’s look at some of the other resources you can use to build your curriculum. Dare to be different!
When making any curricululm decisions, it is important to have a defined goal. What do you want your child to learn? How will he demonstrate this knowledge? What are the specific facts or skills that you need or want him to master? How long will you devote to this study? All of these questions will help you in building a curriculum plan that is sufficient for your needs, and not overwhelming.
The wealth of knowledge and resources out there is mind boggling. This truly is the golden age of homeschooling. That said, more is not always better. It is very easy to get carried away building a plan that looks incredible of paper but in practice will take you 4 years, 6 million gray hairs, and an enitre personal army to complete. Go deep, not wide, and remember you can always add more in later!
Resources to Explore
Here are some of our favorite “outside the box” resources. These are perfect for self directed study, supplemental study, unit studies, or a whole year. Feel free to mix these for some subjects with traditional textbooks for others. As I said above, build your school on your terms. There is no wrong way to learn, what is most important is opening your children’s minds and hearts to the beauty of knowledge.
Use Your Ears
I am known to say this often, so bear with me, but if blind people can read with their fingers, then why not read with your ears? Audiobooks and audio dramas are not only an entertaining way to learn but make learning more accessible to younger or struggling students. This truly is my favorite way to outsource teaching. I still have control over what they are learning, but they take charge of it with exhuberance instead of resistance. A well done audiobook or audiodrama will be more like play than work any day! Trust me, they are learning so much!
Get Your Hands Dirty
A hands on project, such as gardening, is so much more than a fun diversion. In fact, gardening is some packed with learning opportunities that it could be a unit study on its own. There is the botany of growing plants, and the zoology of dealing with pests. Math study is never in short supply! Reading is necessary for gardening success. (I always read three times as much during gardening season as I do the whole rest of the year.) Then there is record keeping (handwriting), research, and the physical labor of building/maintaing a garden, gym class, anyone? Finally, health and home ec make an appearance in harvesting, preparing, and consuming the fruits of your labor.
Find a project that can teach what you need to, and let your child learn through doing.
Grab some Popcorn
While we all worry about too much screentime, some program really is educational. My children have been delighted and schooled by series such as Planet Earth, How the States Got Their Shapes, and Liberty’s Kids (these are some of our all time favorites). This is not a license for simply watching television all day. Learning via video should be reserved to high quality, highly informational programs. Much of what is deemed “educational” on telelvision is not any more educational that sitting at the kitchen table and staring at the wall. You CAN learn something anywhere, that doesn’t make an elevator a prime educational experience.
Using movies or television programs to bring learning to life is something that can be used for any age or subject.
Work the System
Do you remember feeling like a fish out of water on your first day of work? Why? Because doing a job requires a great deal of learning, and no textbook can ever teach you that. You must learn by doing. Holding a parttime job, building a microbusiness, or volunteering are all excellent ways to not only grow your resume, but your education. Imagine learning about your passion first hand, not just from a book?
We tend to think that education must happen in a school setting, but you can never top the level of learning that occurs from doing.
How do you learn outside the box?