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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If you don't use a curriculum, what do you do?

Just saw a newbie question again this morning. It went something like this:

"What curriculum do you use for math, grammar, and reading? Is it working? What do you like and not like about it?"

LOL! It's not too different than the questions I asked at my first homeschooling support meeting. I honestly didn't know any better. It was inconceivable to me that one could "teach" without a curriculum. Well, I don't know about "teaching", but one can certainly LEARN without a curriculum!

The first thing to ask is "what is worth learning?" Certainly most of us see the value of reading, writing and basic arithmetic, but does it have to be learned in the proscribed way it's done in school? Does it have to be learned by a specific age? Are these the most important things to be learning right now? What else rates attention in your life? An advantage of homeschooling is that we can approach learning on an individual level, working with each child exactly where they are to reach goals that we've created together, at a pace that works best for each child and family.

Most of what is worth learning really does just come up naturally in our lives. Think about what you did yesterday. Did you have to read something? Did you have to write? (Even a grocery list or an email counts!) Did you use arithmetic? (Cooking, sewing, wood working, and budgeting are all activities that require arithmetic.) What else did you do? Did it involve music, art, physical movement, creativity? How do you choose to spend your time?

I love to read, books are my gateway to other times, places and people. Books are my retreat and sanctuary when I need a break. Books, magazines, and the internet are where I go to learn about interesting topics and activities. So of course I'm modeling for my children how reading and books are part of my quality of life. We go to the library together. I read out loud to them. We listen to books and lectures on tape together. They make up stories and I sometimes take dictation for them. When they were little they asked about the letters and we told them the sounds each letter makes. Eventually they start recognizing words and finally take off on their their own private reading adventures.

I could go on like this with other subjects, math, music, history, art, science, etc... We find interesting ways to spend our time, new things we'd like to do or learn about. We do the daily work that comes with family life in our community. We think about what we'd like to do in the future and what we need to do/learn now to reach those goals.

"What do you do if you don't use a curriculum?"
We live.

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