Diana's Homeschool Blog

Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

Artificial Curriculum? Part 2

Artificial Curriculum? Part 2

Last week, I shared the story of making blueberry muffins two different ways. . . And then compared that to homeschool curriculum. (Read it here.)

Realistically, is it possible for our kids to enjoy an appetizing experience in learning, one that leaves them wanting more? If so, what are the practical steps to take? And, what kind of curriculum assists us in this endeavor?

The analogy

What goes into making blueberry muffins from scratch?

Very few people grow their own wheat, sugar cane, and blueberries, and not many own their own chickens or dairy cow. But, you don't have to be a farmer to make good meals! When I made blueberry muffins from scratch, I used flour, sugar, salt, oil, eggs, milk and blueberries, all of which were available in the grocery store. I read a recipe in a cookbook written by someone else.

Does that make sense? My part was fairly simple: buy the stuff and follow some directions.

When you think about it, though, you might recognize that this is basically the same process as making the artificially flavored, store-bought mix—I bought a box and followed its directions.

The difference

The most important difference is that when I made muffins from scratch, I had the freedom to make better choiceschoices that were not available with the store-bought mix. For better health, I chose whole wheat pastry flour. For better quality, I chose fresh blueberries. For better flavor, I added freshly grated nutmeg (which isn't in my blueberry muffin recipe). Fabulous muffins—created with a reasonable effort—that were eagerly eaten by all.

Homeschool curriculum 

What determines whether our homeschool curriculum is fresh, drawing students into a love of learning, or artificial, ruining their appetite?

Questions to ask about the curriculum:

  1. Is it a pour-out-the-education curriculum—all I add is eight hours per day?
  2. Am I afraid to take a day off for the zoo or a trip to the library—for fear my kids might fall behind?
  3. Does it require my children to spit out prepackaged facts, rather than interacting with the material and asking their own questions?
  4. Do I feel intimidated by what other kids know, regardless of the unique and valuable things my kids DO know?
  5. Does it allow time and opportunity for kids to make their own choices, follow their own rabbit trail, and explore their own interests?
  6. Am I pressured to do everything in the curriculum? Or, can I make choices, make substitutions, to cater to my children's needs and interests?

Choices YOU can make, regardless of your curriculum:

  1. look in education materials—curriculum, books on homeschooling methods, homeschool blogs—to find “recipes" for things like fun ways to learn prepositions;
  2. try something different now and thenwhether a different book, a different activity, a different curriculum, or a different approach.
  3. stock your shelves with good materials—fascinating books, audio CDs, DVDs, art supplies, math manipulatives, curriculum you like—and have a willingness to let mess happen.

Elementary grades requires easy efforts—looking at pictures of butterflies and then visiting a butterfly house, using modeling clay to make colored balls for homemade math manipulatives, or reading one of the Little House books outloud and then making a recipe for one of the dishes described.

High schooled homeschoolers could stretch to moderate efforts—interviewing professionals to better understand possible career choices, working as volunteers at a zoo or garden, making homemade soap from lye, or creating new games based on history. You may find sometimes that you've bitten off more than you can chew because an attempt is too difficult, but even then, your kids are experiencing the fun and the interest of something new.

The enthusiasm generated by trying something new, even if it "fails," will actually provide a large measure of learning for your kids—"Wow, making soap can cause an explosion!" This enthusiasm in learning will carry over into other attempts. (And, yes, I learned from experience that making soap with my high school student can cause an explosion.)

BlueberriesWhen you make healthy choices—where you are free to cater to specific needs and interests, where you are given the freedom to add some of this and change some of that, where you are in control of what actually goes into the mix, when the curriculum is your servant rather than your master—your children will become far more motivated to learn.

They will actually say, "Mom, is it time for school yet?" because, when the muffins taste better, they are eager for seconds.

If this resonates with you, I encourage you to look at my History Revealed world history curriculum, which is designed for all your students to be able to thrive.

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Do you mind if I retire?
Teaching Tip 7 — Comprehension
 

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Monday, 21 May 2018
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