Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Curriculum Conundrum

Too many choices!
This is one of the problems the homeschooling mom today faces.

While it's great to have options and resources, it can be overwhelming for homeschoolers to pick out curriculum.  There are so many different ways to go about it; so many different curriculums to choose from.
I loved this article.  It resonated with me.  I'm all about pursuing simplicity. 
As we finish one school year in the near future and head into the next, I've come to a place of complete and total peace and confidence in the curriculum we are using.  I'm beyond excited about going through Adventures in MFW with Ali; studying US history and the names of Jesus, and am happy we are doing another round of the totally fun unit studies in MFW K with the boys.

But a few weeks ago I wasn't so sure.  I found myself looking at my friends' curriculum and wondering if mine was "good enough."  I check in with my mom (who teaches K-2nd at the local Christian school) and my public schooling friends often to make sure my kids are learning what they need to be learning.  I was starting to feel like we needed to out-do the kids in public and Christian school to prove that my kids are getting a good education.

I began to research all sorts of curriculums, look into what all of my older, wiser, friends are using, and studied what my "heroes of the online world" are doing.  I made lists, and more lists, and read reviews like crazy!  I put together cost estimates, and looked at arguments for and against different curriculums.  I poured over catalogs and curriculum websites and drooled over lots of books.
And in the end, I came back to MFW.
I'm so glad I had those moments of doubting and wondering because it caused me to re-vamp and re-evaluate what my kids need.  In the end, I discovered that the minor things I was questioning about MFW were my own fault!  I had slacked off and forgotten about some of the things they recommended in the beginning part of the teacher's manual.  I hadn't worked enough with Ali on proper letter formation at the beginning of the year, and therefore it is my fault, not my curriculum's, that her handwriting isn't as nice as I'd like it to be. 

Curriculum doesn't teach our kids.  We do! 
Regardless of which curriculum you use, your kids will get an education because of you!  And regardless of how fancy and expensive your curriculum is, your kids will not get an education if you don't give them one!  Some families can throw together a perfectly suitable school regimen using some notebooks and library books.  Finding the "perfect" curriculum is not as important as "being" a consistent teacher.

I hope that if you homeschool, you have found a curriculum that is just right for your lifestyle, family, teaching style, kids' learning style, etc.  I've decided that MFW is perfect for our family because:

*It's easy to teach, especially for the newbie homeschooler.  The lessons are laid out for you in a clear fashion.
*It is easy to use with several different age levels, something that's important when you have 4 kids!
*It's a mix of classical, Charlotte Mason, literature-rich, unit studies, and Bible-based, which are all teaching methods I like!
*It is totally Bible-based and gives kids a very strong knowledge of the Bible.
*There is a strong missions focus.
*It's not overwhelming!  Too many curriculums out there include so many things to do that moms have felt discouraged or like they are always trying to catch up.  If you are disciplined, you can easily teach and help your child complete their MFW work each day.  If you are teaching more than one grade it is even more helpful to have curriculum that is actually do-able!
*It's solid academically and does an excellent job of teaching the basics as well as encouraging you to pursue art, music, crafts, foreign language, etc.
*It's got a lot of hands-on activities to choose from and emphasizes multi-sensory learning.
*There is a very strong nature focus (which my boys especially love!) and a creationist viewpoint.
*The recommended literature is excellent and good books are integral to the curriculum.
*The character lessons are applicable to young and old.
*The lessons are age-appropriate in length and content.
*The curriculum sets are affordable!  Because most homeschooling families are living off of one income and many have large families, a less-expensive curriculum is a blessing!  I also love that MFW donates much of the money from their curriculum sales to world missions.

So, this is where I'm at with the curriculum conundrum!  Not everyone will like MFW curriculum or find that it suits their family's needs.  Please don't take this post to mean that I think every homeschooling family needs to use MFW curriculum.  There are many good curriculums out there.  I hope you all have found the right fit for you and are excited about teaching it!

Have you ever had a curriculum conundrum?


Thia said...

I think I'm fairly settled for most of our curric. I'm not exactly pleased with the history selection out there nor do I have the time/energy to make my own. I think, after about a month of research, I've settled on a solution that works for us. I'll have to get a post up on that all at some point. lol. I am glad you are done with the conundrum though, I know you don't have time for it!! It can be very consumming.

The Three 22nds said...

You are right, there is SO much out there. I think there is great wisdom in sticking with one curriculum, even if it isn't perfect. If you keep switching, something is bound to get missed...so I am just sticking with what I have and supplementing what I feel the curriculum lacks!

iammygirlsmom said...

Thank you so much for this, Lindsay! We have loved MFW for 6 years now - it's all we've used. I've also spent time second guessing, researching, asking, probing etc, and I always come back to MFW. We just LOVE it! I'm so glad you do too! :)


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have wonderful resources in your public/Christian school friends and relatives. I've also found it helpful to find our state guidelines online to have an outline of what public schools should be covering for each grade level. I go back to them again and again as a reassurance! :)

Anonymous said...

Is it truly a curriculum conundrum or an are my kids getting as good an education as the public school kids conundrum? You may possibly be able to give them same book education. But can you give them them the ability to deal with people of all beliefs or disbeliefs. Are you so afraid that your religious story won't hold up that you can't send them to be around kids who are grounded in reality, because your kids might question your story and you won't be able to defend it?

Heather said...

Anonymous, I think that home is actually the best place to safely explore other beliefs, without feeling pressured to adopt them. Usually in public schools one is TOLD what to believe.

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