Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do I Have to Stick to the Curriculum?

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who is a new homeschooler.  Due to being new at homeschooling and not having a teaching background, she has chosen to use a boxed curriculum this year (which I think was a fantastic choice for her and for many people, so please don't think that I am criticizing curriculums).  

My friend expressed to me her concern that getting her daughter to do the reading work included in the curriculum was a huge challenge every day.  Each day, her daughter asks her if she can read some early readers they have on the shelf instead.  My friend had been saying "no" because she believed she must follow the curriculum, but she wanted advice on what to do.  

My response was to ask her what her reading goals are for her daughter.  As I expected, her goals are for her daughter to become a proficient reader and to enjoy reading.  So, my response was "who cares what she is reading as long as she is reading?  If the early readers on your shelf are more interesting to her than the curriculum reading passages, have her read those instead (or do a combination of both)."

In my house, I have 4 sets of early readers and a Dick and Jane bound collection.  Before the school year started, I had carefully chosen which books we were going to read and in what order.  I had even made worksheets and writing prompts to go with each story.  However, Abigail (kindergarten) quickly changed those plans when she begged for me to purchase some early readers she saw at the local book store and wanted to read Dick and Jane (which I had not planned for).  Now, I give her options for her main readings each week.  I choose two or three little books or Dick and Jane stories that are at her reading level and let her choose which one she prefers.  Reading is often her favorite part of our school day and she has is making very fast progress in her reading skills.

While having a curriculum is wonderful, we, as the teachers of our children, should not feel bound by them.  We have the freedom to change the curriculum, add to it, delete parts, or completely change the curriculums we are using.  Our curriculums should be a guide for our teaching, but not our teaching bibles!

Marla is a former special education teacher and homeschooling mom of two little girls (ages 3 and 5).  She has her PhD in Special Education and loves to put her knowledge to use teaching her children and sharing learning/teaching ideas.  She blogs about raising and teaching her children at Marla's Motherhood Musings and her family's experiences living in Zambia at Our Life in Lusaka.

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