One of the first questions new homeschooling parents ask is: how did you pick your curriculum? It is generally followed with comments about the overwhelming number of choices, whether homeschooling should look like public schooling and the vast differences between the children in each home.
While there are many places to go with this question (and I will address some of the other issues in future posts), I want to focus in on one answer. There is a recurring answer that states, “Pick the curriculum that works for each child. That’s the joy of homeschooling. Really being able to teach to their strengths.”
My answer to this response?
Don’t pick a different curriculum for each child.
Don’t teach to their strengths.
Don’t go looking for a magic bullet.
I realize this goes against the grain of many homeschool parents, but bear with me. Several great reasons exist for my response.
1) This response came from a question on how to pick curriculum, and it is incredibly unhelpful at answering that initial question. In fact, it makes the situation worse. Now instead of having to choose one curriculum, I have to find 2 or 3 or 17 (depending on how many kids I have). This leads to an increase in panic in almost every parent I have met.
2) I do not know if you have noticed, but homeschooling is expensive. We cut a lot of costs in our family by reusing curriculum (paying attention to copyright laws, of course). So that $50 history textbook does not work for you, son? Too bad. Fifty dollars is fifty dollars. Generally speaking I have picked the most effective and inexpensive curriculum I can find, so a replacement is going to cost even more. No, thank you.
3) I’m sorry, but why are we teaching to kids’ strengths? Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great that we have all this understanding of different types of learners, and I appreciate having a language and vocabulary to discuss these types with my kids. But, hello, isn’t education about learning stuff you don’t know? Isn’t it about addressing your weaknesses? So while there are times that I consider each individual child and adapt, it is not a factor in my original picking of a curriculum.
4) Finally, and this really relates to all of the above reasons, don’t look for a magic bullet in education. More choices, spending more money, catering to each child, none of these is going to make
...a self-avowed "Wander Woman," homeschools her three children while traipsing the globe with her Army Chaplain husband. Her third greatest passion, falling below her love for God and family, is empowering other parents to teach their children.