Ah curriculums. So many out there. So confusing. So overwhelming.
How do I pick just one among the hundreds–free and costly–out there?
How do I know that the one I picked is right for my children?
How do I find that perfect curriculum that measures what they should learn and when they should learn it?
What do I want to do?
Well, let’s start with what I don’t want to do.
What I don’t want to do is mimic the school system by buying a “first grade curriculum package” and following it to a T.
This curriculum is set up to measure what students are supposed to learn at each grade level. For example, according to the folks at LeapFrog, by the first grade all students should be able to count to 30.
All students should be showing an interest in solving mathematical problems.
All students should respect the feelings and rights of others.
The list goes on and on.
It’s not that I don’t think these skills are important…they are. But, do we really need to measure the “readiness” of a student to progress to a different grade? Do we really need to categorize what they should be able to understand and, maybe even master, before moving on?
If they do not have all of the skills they “should”…are they held back and forced to learn the same things in the same way? Is this really how we want to “measure” the success of a child?
My answer is no. Why? Because, these standards are really ways to measure how successful the teachers are at each grade level.
This is unfair to both student and teacher because kids are different…they don’t all look alike, walk alike or talk alike. They are unique individuals who should not be standardized in any way. They should not be forced into conformity just because someone said they should be able to master X or Y by a specific grade level.
What I don’t want to do is decide on one educational approach. I want to explore all approaches: Traditional, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Study, Unschooling, Independent Study and Umbrella Program. This will enable me to use an eclectic mix of all approaches…use what works and throw out what doesn’t. Use immersion learning.
I am going to set high level target goals I want them to master…not by a certain age, but at their own pace.
These are our high level targets:
- The ability to think critically using logic, common sense and deduction.
- The ability to use this critical thinking, reading and comprehension to “self-teach” and in turn, teach others.
- The ability to use the above skills and logic to inform, persuade and motivate. (Rhetoric)
- The ability to use all of the above, plus motivation to be successful and happy in whatever they decide to do.
In addition, I want them to love learning.
I want them to have strong ethics, compassion and be virtuous in character and actions.
I want them to be active, both mentally and physically.
And, I want these habits to stick with them all their lives.
It sounds lofty, overwhelming and scary. I’m not foolish enough to think that I can control them…make them do and be these things. It’s not that easy. Children are unique beings and I cannot push my beliefs and wants on them.
But, I can at least lay the foundation for these traits…the rest is up to them.