Want to create your own homeschool curriculum? Interested in how it is done? It isn’t too hard! This series will help you craft the best curriculum custom made for your child. This is couture education!
There are many reasons you might choose to create your own homeschool curriculum. This series should help you as you create and craft a custom education for your child or your family. We’ll go step by step through the process to create a great curriculum and then we’ll follow that up with a short series on how to schedule your chosen curriculum.
Put quite simply, choosing curriculum is really just choosing what subjects and books your child is going to study. You can plan for a year. You can plan for a month. How much you plan and when you plan it and how loosely it is planned is up to you. For simplicity, I’ll be talking about planning out a school year. But if you want to plan for a shorter amount of time, you absolutely can.
If you can pick out a bedtime story to read, you can plan your child’s curriculum. There might be state standards that you need to achieve where you live, if so, keep those in mind as you’re choosing. I also feel the need to note that there are plenty of people who don’t plan their child’s curriculum. Some people use a ready-made curriculum or they may not plan at all, choosing to educate their child in a more unschooling type of way. Those options might be right for you. This post isn’t about those options.
Why would you choose to create your own curriculum? Maybe you’ve got a child who doesn’t seem to “fit” any of the curriculum plans you’ve found. Maybe they’re advanced in some areas and not in others. Maybe they have specific interests or specific ways they like to learn. You can make almost any curriculum fit almost any child. But sometimes it is just easier to create what you want instead of doing the hard work of making something else fit.
Perhaps you’re like me and educating multiple levels of children. You’re looking for ways to bring them together, keep them on the same page, and lighten your educator load a little. Creating your own curriculum is the easiest way to do this.
Maybe you’ve got very specific educational goals for your children. While I would advise that you should keep in mind their struggles aren’t your struggles. Sometimes our educational goals come from the areas we feel most lacking in our own education. Just be aware of why you have your specific goals and try to keep perspective. It can be easy to overdo math if you feel unprepared by your education for math. But perhaps your family educational goal involves tying all the subjects together into one tapestry of knowledge. Maybe you want your kids to see your faith in every area they study. Maybe you desire them to have practical skills. Whatever your goals might be, creating a curriculum to specifically meet your goals may be just what your family needs.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your curriculum. The first is that you’re creating a real plan for your real child or children. I can create a beautiful curriculum, but if it isn’t realistic to my life or my children, what good is it? Keep your child’s learning style and abilities in mind as you plan. Now, I would encourage you to challenge your child– that is where growth happens. But don’t make it so hard or so long that you completely lose them. You may think having high tea and reading Anne of Green Gables sounds lovely, but if you’re educating Huck Finn– they aren’t likely to go along with the beautiful plan. I do think you should add things that might be out of the norm for your child. We don’t have to stick to just where our children are and what they like. We can challenge. We can bring in new experiences. Just try to keep a reasonable balance and keep in mind which aspects might be a challenge for your child.
It is also wise to keep in mind that you don’t have to fit everything into this year. While you may have a list of dozens of “must read” books in your head for your child, be realistic in what you fit in. You want balance. You want them to learn, but also to have time to process and let what they’re learning “sink in”. If you’re just plowing through massive amounts of things, they may not have time to really stop and think about any of them. You don’t have to fit it all into one year. Children grow quickly, but not that quickly. Focus on enjoying it and not on fitting it all in. Sometimes that means Narnia has to wait while you journey through the Hundred Acre Woods.
The third thing to keep in mind is your personal philosophy of education. While that sounds complex, it is quite simple. What do you think the point of education is? Is it to have a base knowledge to get to the next educational level? Is it to explore the world and revel in wonder? Is it to form habits and character? Why do kids need to go to school? Once you answer that question, it can be a lot easier to see which books and programs will be the best fit. In education, it isn’t so much where you’re going, but why you’re going where you’re going.
A last thing to keep in mind, more is not always more. Sometimes, we need simplicity, and that is okay. It is best to acknowledge that and plan accordingly. Sometimes ideal is not best. We just have to discern those times and situations. If you’re a busy family, you may need to accept that the basic core four is all you’re going to have the time and energy to do well. It is better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. So, if you can’t fit in the extras you want to fit in– assess your situation. Is it worth it to you to make the sacrifices to make that happen? If so, make it happen. That might mean you have to eliminate some other extras from your child’s life. If soccer is more important, choose that without any guilt. If you have a newborn, a chronic illness, an ailing parent, a new company– it is okay to keep things simple for that season. You don’t have to do all the things to have a really great education for your child. Let the extras be just that– extras. When seasons and priorities allow, do them as you want. But when you can’t, don’t place unnecessary guilt on yourself.
So, you’re just picking books. It is much more simple than it seems. Make a list of the subjects you want to cover. I’ll help you nail down the specifics. Your list may not look like mine or your neighbor’s. That is totally fine. You know what your educational goal is and you know what is important to your family and your children.
Need help with your list? Start with the basics! The basic four are language arts, math, history, and science. Check your state’s homeschooling requirements to see if they made a list for you. If you want to add nontraditional subjects– go right ahead. Just be aware of how much work can realistically be accomplished in a given day, week, term, or year.
As they become available, you’ll be able to click these links to the rest of the posts in this series, which break down the process subject by subject for you.
Math (coming soon)
Extras (coming soon)