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Jul 29, 2013

Choosing Curriculum

Krisa Winn

Are you making your final selections in regard to curriculum for the new school year? I know that many of the moms I'm talking to, are doing just that. As you're narrowing down your options, please keep in mind the following guidelines which originally appeared as an e-newsletter from the Struggling Learner website.

When choosing homeschool curriculum there are several factors that you want to take into consideration.

1. How will your child learn best?

The main consideration is how your child learns best. Will he learn best with textbooks, workbooks, hands-on manipulatives, online, computer, unit studies, etc. The answer to this has to do with their learning style. Are they hands on learners, do they learn best by listening, do they learn best visually?

Hearing: If your child learns best by hearing you might want to go with a textbook approach. These learners like to listen and learn and textbooks might be the best way for them.

Visual Learner: If your child is a visual learner, consider workbooks, online and computer based programs, as well as unit studies. Generally, these use a lot of visual enhancement to their teaching methods, such as the Weaver Curriculum, Switched On Schoolhouse, or Teaching Textbooks. Just be aware that if your child is more than a year behind in reading, online or computer based programs do not tend remediate the reading as well as the one on one tutorial from a mom using special curricula for this task. Visit our struggling learner resources page and look under the topic “dyslexia,” to find a list of some of these special learning tools for these struggling children.

Hands on: A hands-on learner might like a computer based curriculum, curricula with lots of experiments and projects, or a unit studies type of program. They will want to be involved physically in their learning. Look for math programs with concrete manipulatives, such as Math-U-See, Right Start Math, or Woodbine House publishers’ series on Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands On Learners. Still, other children who are very brittle in math may find some of these books overwhelming. In that case many parents look to more right brain teaching strategies for this child. The newsletter, “Attacking the Math Monster”, has many right brain teaching ideas for these struggling children. 2. How do you want to teach?

Your philosophy: Another important factor to consider is how you want to teach. What is your philosophy of teaching and how children learn best? Do you want to use a Charlotte Mason method, classical approach, or unschooling? You may like textbooks or workbooks or you might want to oversee an online or computer curriculum. Keep in mind that most children with special needs require structure, routine, and will thrive best with a good schedule and an organized and a learning environment that is free from distractions.

Unit studies: Another approach is to use unit studies, which is the teaching of all subjects or content area through one topic. An example is teaching a unit study about Egypt. You can teach math, reading, writing, science, and history all linked around this one topic. (My Father's World and KONOS use this approach).

Combination: You can also use the eclectic method of homeschooling, which is basically a mix and match approach, combining bits and pieces of different homeschool methods and curricula.

3. What skills does my child need and what are the goals we are working toward accomplishing?

Fix your focus: Consider what is paramount to address in your homeschool. Is your child working on basic, foundational skills and/or life skills? What academic strengths and weaknesses does your child have?

Learning levels: What is your child’s current functioning level in reading and math? It may be necessary to purchase materials at one level in math, but a different level in language arts.

Services: Are there supplemental services your child with special needs must have or would benefit from, such as language therapy, speech or occupational therapy? Such services, count as part of your child’s homeschooling curricula and day. HSLDA recommends that parents make sure their children’s special needs and disabilities are being addressed and private services, if possible are best.

I hope you found these ideas to be as helpful as I did.

God bless you as you prepare for the coming year!

-Krisa

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