Look for Specific Materials
with Features To Meet Your Needs
Evaluate curriculum materials according to how they match your needs and preferences in various areas, such as the following:
• Thoroughness or depth of coverage of the subject
• Enough practice and review
• Enrichment features such as mini-biographies, stories, story problems
• Attractiveness of the material, such as type size, layout, color, visuals such as photos, art, diagrams, timelines, maps, etc.
• Activities such as projects and experiments
• Answer Keys.
These might be included or separate, and might be needed or not essential, depending on your own knowledge and/or involvement in the study.
• Your knowledge, experience, and confidence in teaching a particular subject or method.
Teacher's manuals or curriculum guides can give beginning or hesitant teachers the words to say (e.g., Valerie Bendt's Reading Made Easy), activities to introduce, and the pages to assign.
Teachers of higher-level subjects will find a wealth of background information and projects that can add substantially to the coverage of the subject (e.g., the teacher's editions of world history texts from A Beka and BJU Press.)
Consider the following factors for your family – they may change from year to year as your children grow.
• Your preferences in teaching.
• Each child's learning styles, developmental levels, strengths, and weaknesses.
• The number of children in your family.
• Adaptability to combining classes.
• The amount of time and energy you would need to expend in preparation, teaching, and/or correcting.
• Your family's budget.
• The legal requirements in your state for home education.
Choose and Obtain Your Curriculum
After you have spent a reasonable amount of time on the step-by-step process of considering curriculum, place your trust in God, agree with your spouse on the main points, then go with your best judgment.
Don't worry about making a "huge mistake." You can give your children a good education with practically any curriculum, and you will learn what works by experience.
• Choose and list the methods and materials that you will use to meet your objectives for each child this year.
• In a notebook, make three columns per page for each student.
1. Under each subject list the objectives to be met.
2. List material chosen for each objective.
3. Record the cost of all materials.
• Note who will share materials and whether you need more than one copy.
• Include any supplemental teaching materials.
• Add up all the prices and make adjustments if necessary.
• Gather ordering information.
Obtain Your Curriculum
Buy, borrow, or trade any materials needed in addition to what you already have.
A complete curriculum or components that you put together yourself can be obtained in the following ways:
Buy Direct or Used. You can buy new or used materials directly from publishers, mail-order companies, Christian bookstores, thrift stores, or online. See a list of recommended resources on The Teaching Home website.
With a Program. Correspondence courses can provide teaching materials and various levels of accountability, testing, record keeping, and counseling.
Borrow. You might be able to borrow or trade nonconsumable materials with a friend whose children are different ages than your. Also, check to see if your support group has a lending library or what you can find in your local public or church library.
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In a Whole Different Orbit
Sarah, 7, wanted to draw a picture of the solar system following a lesson on the subject.
When she had finished drawing the sun and five of the planets, I asked if she could remember their names.
Slowly she answered, "Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and . . . Texas!"
Submitted by Inge Q., Canada.
Send your humorous anecdote to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. God loves you.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
2. Man was separated from God by sin.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
3. The death of Jesus Christ in our place is God's only provision for man's sin.
He (Jesus Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
4. We must personally receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
Immerse your family in God's truth through systematic reading and study of God's Word.
See The Teaching Home's Bible reading schedule online at TeachingHome.com.
Listen to the Bible Online
Choose from six English versions (plus Spanish and other languages) at BibleGateway.com/Audio.
Search options at BibleGateway.com include Passage Lookup, Keyword Search, and Topical Index.
Christian Music Online 24/7!
Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to these online stations:
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Back-to-Homeschool Series, Part 3
7 Steps to Choosing Curriculum
for Your Home School
1. Start with Prayer, Your Family Mission Statement,
2. Assess Each Child
3. Learn about Different Methods and Materials
4. Consider Combining Methods and Materials
5. Decide Which of Your Children You Will Teach
Together for Which Subjects
6. Look for Specific Materials with Features
That Will Meet Your Needs
7. Choose and Buy Your Curriculum
• Ferg N' Us: "Jelly-Proof" Homeschooler's Journal
• Basic Christian Education: Bible-Based Curriculum
• Beyond Phonics: Spelling, Reading and Vocabulary
There truly is not just one right way to home school or one best curriculum for everyone.
One of the great advantages of home education is its great flexibility.
Each family is free to choose from among many excellent options the educational philosophies, methods, materials, and schedules that best suit its needs and preferences.
How you use your curriculum can be at least as important as which curriculum you choose.
A wonderful curriculum that stays on your shelf will do your family no good.
On the other hand, a simple, basic curriculum used conscientiously along with reading, enriching experiences, and normal daily living can produce an excellent education.
Whatever your situation, there are multiple solutions that can make home schooling a blessing to your family.
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These durable journals, with plastic "Jelly-Proof" covers and bindings that lay flat, include:
• Subject Logs for 200 Days
• Spaces for Assignments/Tests
• Field Trip Logs
• Multiple Calendars
• Objective/Resource Pages
• Individual Library Lists
• Lending Resource Log
• Check-Off for Yearly Requirements
• Many more features Low Cost – Only $10.95 each
The Math Journal. Keep math work together,
place values aligned, and more.
Free with your order of three Journals.
Start with Prayer, Your Family
Mission Statement, and Goals
Taking time to think and pray about what you want to accomplish will give direction to your efforts and help ensure that your children will achieve excellence in education and character.
In Newsletter #283, Part 2 of Back-to-Homeschool Series, we discussed how to write a family mission statement and set long- and short-term goals that will help you accomplish your mission.
This process is an important first step in preparation for choosing and using curriculum to its best advantage for your family.
Assess Each Child
Take an inventory of each child's knowledge, skills, aptitudes, interests, learning style, and character in light of your goals for him.
You can do this in several ways, as discusses in our last newsletter, such as:
• Informal, everyday observations
• Testing (Alpha Omega Publications, PASS Test, BJU Press, CLASS)
• Using a scope and sequence chart and check off the skills or knowledge that your child has already attained (A Beka Books, BJU Press)
Your children, as well as yourself, have preferred learning styles – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (touching and doing) that should be noticeable to observant parents.
As children grow and mature, their learning style(s) may change.
Natural strengths in learning styles may be fully utilized and weaknesses corrected by the choice of methods inherent in specific approaches or curricula.
You may want to use your child's favorite learning style to encourage him in his least favorite subjects.
You can also expand his skills in his less-preferred learning style by incorporating its methods into the study of his favorite subject, so that eventually all your children become comfortable
with all three means of getting information.
Read more in Newsletter #256.
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Examine Different Educational Methods and Materials
Fine Christian educational materials are available to home educators.
The major educational methods and materials used by Christian homeschool families are described below with links to websites for more detailed information. Unless otherwise noted, the publishers listed offer: A distinctively Christian worldview throughout all subject areas.
• No pronounced denominational viewpoints
• All subjects for all grades
• Free print and/or online catalog.
Most of these publishers also offer:
• Accredited or nonaccredited correspondence programs
• Supplemental teaching materials.
Traditional Christian Textbooks
The traditional approach to education involves teacher-directed study and the use of textbooks. Written assignments, workbooks, or other projects are also used.
Textbooks cover subjects thoroughly and usually include study questions, enrichment activities, and projects. These excellent books are rich in colorful illustrations, photographs, diagrams, charts, and maps. Teaching materials such as workbooks, tests, answer keys, and daily lesson plans are available.
• A Beka Book
• BJU Press
• Christian Liberty Academy
A worktext is a combination of a workbook and a textbook. It contains lessons, questions, projects, and exercises in each consumable workbook.
These curriculum materials have similar content to traditional textbooks. However, they are usually less extensive and could require less time to complete.
Diagnostic tests show where a child should start in each subject; this can be useful for children coming out of a school setting.
• Accelerated Christian Education
from Basic Christian Education
• Alpha Omega Publications
Christian Unit Studies
Unit studies present knowledge from several subject areas (such as history, science, literature, and Bible) centered around a common theme for each unit.
Language arts and math can be related to the unit, but basic skills in phonics, grammar, and math are taught separately and systematically.
Unit study curriculum varies in the amount of teacher preparation required. Usually many library books are used, but Christian textbooks, home resources and/or the Internet can also be used for reference and information.
• KONOS (Complete packages and mentor program also available)
• EducationPLUS (Unit study targeted for high school using BJU Press textbooks)
• The Weaver Curriculum
• Cadron Creek Christian Curriculum
The Principle Approach
Curriculum using the Principle Approach is available or may be developed by parents.
For each subject, teachers and students keep notebooks containing biblical perspectives and principles, factual information on the subject acquired from various sources, and personal applications.
• Foundation for American Christian Education
Children progress from memorization of facts and development of learning skills to advanced logical reasoning and expressive use of language, giving them the ability to discuss their knowledge and beliefs.
See the September/October 1997 Teaching Home back issue.
Books & Life Experiences
Other than basic teaching in the three Rs, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction. Normal everyday activities supplement study and give it perspective.
• See Charlott Mason Curriculum from Living Books
A variety of media can add interest and motivation for all your children. A variety will also enhance each child's learning according to his preferred learning style.
Include books, printed materials, videos and DVDs, supervised Internet studies, computer software, educational games, tools and manipulatives, such as:
• Audio (Sing 'n Learn)
• Video Instruction (A Beka Books, Alpha Omega Switched-On Schoolhouse, Alpha Omega Monarch, BJU Press, Keyboard Enterprises, Systematic Mathematics, Ask Dr. Callahan, Homeschool Science Academy)
• Manipulatives (Cornerstone Curriculum, Math-U-See)
Catch up or Accelerate:
Spelling, Fluent Reading and Vocabulary –
Master all the words in each spelling pattern with character-building,
stories for the whole family.
• EY We took the trolley down the alley to see the monkey ...
• IR Birds chirped and squirrels stir in the firs ...
• EAR Earl learned early to earn respect and to earnestly ...
Methods and Materials
The various methods and materials used by home educators overlap in philosophy, methods, and content. You can select and combine elements of several of these, adapting and blending them to serve their family's changing needs.
You can use a complete curriculum package from a publisher or put together your own components. Neither option will make you a "better" homeschooler.
Whichever curriculum or method you choose, you can incorporate other methods into it. Some examples:
• You may use a unit study curriculum supplemented with traditional science and history texts as reference books, and add library books for reading.
• You might use worktexts for math and language and have your children keep "principle approach" notebooks for science, history, and literature.
• You may emphasize the appropriate phase of the classical approach for each child in his individual assignments.
• You can rearrange the order of the units in your curriculum to conform to the seasons or your children's current interests.
• Reading aloud and discussing subject texts and/or a variety of informative or enriching literature can complete or supplement any curriculum.
• Textbooks or workbooks can be supplemented with unit studies, or vice versa.
• Games, projects, computer programs, etc. can be added to any curriculum to help cover all your objectives.
There are other possible combinations of methods and materials. You are the best qualified to choose a mix that will be right for you and your children.
Decide Which of Your Children
You Will Teach Together
for Which Subjects
You may be able to teach several of your children the same material at the same time for the most efficient use of your time and effort.
There are many possible variations and combinations of multilevel teaching techniques that can work for any homeschool family.
Basic Skills. Skills such as reading, handwriting, and math depend on mastery of some skills before others can be understood or learned. Those skills need to be taught separately.
However, there is enough review and repetition in textbooks from grade to grade that a 5th-grade math text, for instance, could be studied by both a 9- and 12-year-old children, depending on their abilities.
Individual Instruction. When one student needs individual attention, have a list of ways that the other children can use their time constructively by working independently, reading, doing chores, playing an educational game, watching an enriching video, etc.
Older Students. Some students can do much of their work independently while younger ones receive necessary tutoring in basic skills.
Subjects like geography, history, science, literature, and Bible, which do not depend on prerequisite skills for understanding, can be taught to several grade levels of children or the whole family together.
Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations that enable all children to understand.
For example, you might teach all of your children, ages 5-18, a course in botany. High schoolers could use a detailed textbook while younger children read or hear about parallel topics from texts or library books on their own levels. Discussions and projects can include the whole family.