Homeschooling comes with many advantages, including the right for parents to choose products that suit each child in the family. Not all parents take advantage of this freedom, however. In fact, it is surprising to find that many parents use products that are ill-suited to their children — even when homeschooling gives them full permission to drop everything and choose something else.
Finding a curriculum to suit a child may not always be easy. It is rare to get it right the first time around. It can take several attempts and maybe even span a period of a couple of years to find just the right tools to teach a particular child. That’s because the longer a parent works with a child, the better that child’s likes & dislikes, strengths & weaknesses, habits & styles begin to show themselves. Over time, these clues help parents choose better products, explaining why initially this process can take some time to figure out.
What does the “right fit” curriculum look like?
For starters, it may not be a “curriculum” at all. I’ll use the term curriculum here to keep things simple and basic. But please understand we’re talking about any kind of educational tools at all.
A good fit curriculum is not only one that does the job, but does it well. And not just academically either. The right curriculum for a homeschooler is one that includes the information that a parent desires to cover that year. But, it is also one that meshes well with the student’s preferred way of doing things.
Let’s look at two examples:
Little Johnny loves to read and there is no keeping Johnny’s nose out of books. In fact, Johnny carries a book wherever he goes and he reads every spare minute he has. A homeschooling parent might make the connection that a good fit for Johnny would be a curriculum that involves readings and lots and lots of books. And not books on tape or e-books purchased on the computer — actual books, like the kind that Johnny likes.
Little Susie, on the other hand, is not a reader. In fact, Susie will do whatever it takes to avoid reading, making excuses, asking for breaks, or skimming readings with little or no comprehension at all. Instead, Susie prefers to watch TV, videos and streamed-in programming right on her laptop. Observing Susie for a period of time might lead a parent to conclude that the right fit for Susie is one that comes on a set of DVDs or uses computer software. Maybe. Or at least something that doesn’t involve so much reading. Using experimentation and observation, Susie’s parents will eventually find exactly the right product(s) for her.
Even children in the same family do things differently, making it so important to find the right match for each and every child, and not just recycling materials down from one student to another (though this may be tempting as it is less expensive).
Too often we hear parents talking about their children in terms of which subjects the kids like and which they don’t. Kids do have their favorites, it’s true. But, sometimes – and this may comes as a surprise to parents – it isn’t that children like or dislike subjects at all. Instead, the like and dislike comes from the curriculum being used, because it’s the wrong fit. That is, if Johnny hates math, it could be that Johnny’s mom is teaching math using plastic blocks when all Johnny really wants to do is read about math from a book. And, if Susie likes science, it might be because Susie’s science curriculum is a series of videos so she is rewarded by a method that appeals to her. In fact, if Susie watched videos about history or poetry, those just might become her favorite subjects, too.
When choosing homeschooling curriculum, consider the best fit for the child that will be using it. Involving children in the selection process is a great way to see what the children naturally gravitate to. But in their absence, be sure to select products that seem to resemble the way each child likes to learn.
A better curriculum fit equates to a better experience all around. Academically, children learn best when they are enthusiastic and interested in what they’re doing. Enthusiasm and interest often comes from exposing children to knowledge and information in the form that they’d like to learn it.
When kids are happy and learning, everyone is happy. Not just the students, but moms and dads, too. Though it may take some time, and even involve shelving or selling expensive curriculum materials that just don’t work, over time, you’ll discover the right fit for every child in your homeschool.
Doesn’t it make sense to find the best fit for your child?