Home School Curriculums
What Is a Curriculum?
Technically, a curriculum is a list of topics, concepts, ideas, etc. that will be taught. A home school curriculum usually also includes the texts, workbooks, and other materials used to teach that subject, and "directions for parents." There are many great curriculums (or programs) designed just for home schoolers.
Most people start home schooling with packaged curriculums, and then find their way from there, for what works best for their child. For some children this involves more formal studies. For others it is more informal hands-on play or exploring learning. For many, it is a mixture of methods.
Look for Hands-on Activities
When you are looking at curriculums, look for hands-on activities, that use more than just book, pencil, and paper (like math manipulatives, games, building models, doing science experiments, going on field trips, etc.). Many of us have found that we tend to use a lot more hands-on activities and field trips, than schools use, because our children learn much more by doing (especially the younger children). Often home school curriculums have lots of hands-on activities in them.
Some subjects, like math, work better with a formal curriculum. This is probably because most math, particularly in the upper grades, must be done on paper. There are some great home school math curriculums (like Math-U-See (www.mathusee.com), which we use), that are designed for home schoolers, and use a hands-on manipulatives approach.
For older children, most of us want more guidance in the form of topics to study, specific information, etc.
Use "Home School" Curriculums
If you are going to use formal curriculums, it is best to get "home school" curriculums rather than use programs designed for schools. A good home school curriculum will explain to you "as a parent," what and how to teach that day's material, and should have more hands-on exercises that are better suited to a home environment.
There are many excellent home school curriculums available, for each subject, and some are multi-subject. Unit studies use a project, and bring different subjects into the project. They can make learning fun, hands-on, and often they can be used with several children of different ages (the activities and expectations would be adjusted for each child).
For more information on choosing curriculums, get this excellent book, "100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing The Right Curriculum And Approach For Your Child's Learning Style (Paperback) by Cathy Duffy." It covers many major home school curriculums, and has many excellent sugestions to help you choose what is best for your child.
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