What to Consider When Choosing a Curriculum
I won’t be the first—or the last—to say that 2020 has been a year filled with all things unprecedented! From the COVID-19 pandemic to virtual meetings, working from home, tele-medicine, and hybrid learning, everyone from children through the elderly have had to learn new ways to get through their daily lives. Plus, we are having to do so without instruction manuals!
Because of all the uncertainty surrounding our schools, parents are increasingly choosing to homeschool their children. What many parents do not realize is when they opt for the homeschooling option, they are solely responsible for selecting the curriculum they will use (at least this is the case in Ohio). Until you begin to look for a curriculum, you will be shocked to learn how many options are out there—literally hundreds! I will explain some of the differences among curriculum below, which should allow you to make a more informed decision, should you opt for homeschooling.
First, you need to decide whether you want a religious-based curriculum or a secular one. Simply conduct an online search for either religious/faith-based curriculum or secular curriculum. The majority of curriculum currently out there are of a religious-based variety, so sorting through those may take longer than sorting through the secular choices.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to this first level, you may next want to think about your child(ren)’s dominant learning style: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Even though the curriculum is online, it may offer kinesthetic experiences away from the computer. Also consider the educational philosophy or method that drives each curriculum. Some of these include Charlotte Mason, Waldorf Education (based on Rudolph Steiner), and Montessori.
Charlotte Mason believed in educating the whole person: ideas that rule your life as the parent make up 1/3 of your child’s education; cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another 1/3; and giving children living thoughts and ideas, rather than just dry facts make up the final 1/3. Mason also places emphasis on high quality literature, nature study, and narration.
Rudolf Steiner believed there are three forces at the center of education: the need for imagination; a sense of truth; and a feeling of responsibility. Music, dance, theater, writing, literature, legends, and myths should all be experienced; and intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual growth should all be cultivated. Integrating thinking and assimilating information is preferable to memorizing facts. Steiner also emphasized child development and educating the student as a whole person.
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who started Montessori schools, believed in a child-centered approach to education. She believed that “education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual . . . by experiences upon the environment.” Therefore, the teacher’s role was to offer a natural environment that would stimulate the child in all areas of development and could be continually altered to meet the needs of the individual children.
I understand this is a lot of information to digest and to apply to curriculum selection, and it becomes even more challenging if you have more than one child and they require differing approaches to education! Nevertheless, I hope I have provided some helpful guideposts for you to make the task less daunting! If you would like more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.