Overwhelmed by curriculum choices? This excerpt from Chapter 5 of the newly updated CHEC Guidebook will help you make sense of the world of curricula. Thanks to Cindy Puhek for her contribution to this chapter.
Today’s homeschooling family is faced with a plethora of curriculum choices. It can feel very overwhelming to a new homeschooler. Which curriculum is the right one for you and your family? This section is designed to give you some things to consider such as learning styles and different methods of education that will make choosing curriculum much easier.
In order to choose a curriculum, you must know what your goals are for your children’s education. Determining your goals is a several step process which begins with a review of your philosophy of education. If you have not already done so, please take time to work through the Vision section of this Guidebook before proceeding.
There are three basic ways in which children take in information: vision, hearing, and touch. Most children find one of these modalities to be their dominant “learning style,” and information is most easily understood and retained when presented in that mode. A “visual” learner learns best by seeing the information in print or having a concept illustrated for him. A child who learns best through hearing the information is called an “auditory” learner.
A “kinesthetic” learner needs to touch and physically experience the information. This can mean anything from drawing his letters in the sand box, to acting out a piece of history. (See Chapter 5 – Choosing Curriculum for more characteristics of each learning style.) There are also many books that can help you discover your child’s learning style, including The Way They Learn, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.
Also, keep in mind that most children are a combination of these learning styles with one style being more dominant than the others. So, finding a curriculum that involves all three modes is usually ideal.
If your child is a visual learner (enjoys reading and color or graphics catches his eye), he will probably prefer colorful texts and interesting workbooks such as those produced by Abeka, Bob Jones University Press, or Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) School of Tomorrow. Most traditional school materials are developed for the visual learner.
An auditory learner (enjoys being read to and listening to music or audio books, and follows verbal instructions well) may enjoy information set to songs on tape and curriculum with simple, succinct instructions and uncluttered pages. Rhymes can be used to teach many facts, such as the names of the state capitals or the multiplication tables.
Unit studies are often fun for auditory learners, since much of the learning comes through discussion. Reading aloud and talking about the material will enhance any curriculum you choose. Look for Grammar Songs and other teaching tapes or cds. Products from singnlearn.com can be helpful along with My Father’s World, Christian Cottage Unit Studies, and KONOS Unit Studies.
If your child is a kinesthetic learner (uses his body to navigate life, has good fine and gross motor control, seems to learn by doing) you will want to include hands-on activities and movement in your curriculum. Whenever possible, give concrete examples of abstract concepts. Many times this can be accomplished by using “manipulatives” — such as plastic letters, learning wrap-ups, counting blocks, map puzzles, and science experiments.
Unit studies and science or history projects will be the best part of this child’s educational experience. No matter what their learning style, most younger children learn well using hands-on methods. Curriculum choices include Making Math Meaningful or Math-U-See, as well as KONOS, Christian Cottage Units, Weaver, Timberdoodle, or Five-in-a-Row.
Chapter is continued in the CHEC Homeschool Guidebook, available for preorder now!