Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winning at Planning: Step 4

This could also be called "research time", "going-insane-time", or "giving-your-printer-a-workout-time". The whole idea with steps 1-3 is to to hopefully make the arrival at step 4 a wee bit better. Finding the perfect curriculum is a goal of many homeschoolers. The truth is, it doesn't exist. What works for your friend's children could turn out to be a complete flop for yours. You can read 10 reviews that praise the curriculum you have on and you'll be ready to buy it. Then, just as you're about to hit the purchase button, you read 1 review that rips that curriculum to shreds. And there it is, the seed of doubt that will blossom into full hatred by Thanksgiving. 

I don't disagree with reading reviews. I habitually check Amazon for reviews before I purchase anything, even if I am buying something at a brick and mortar store. Just keep in mind this one little thing:

Curriculum is ONLY the map for your school year.
YOU are the PILOT.
You choose when to follow the map and when to go rogue.

But choose your map wisely. If you know that you are not a hands-on kind of teacher, don't choose a science curriculum that has you making something 3 times a week. I looked at one science curriculum that had a supply list longer than Santa's list! I can't imagine anyone not feeling like a failure with that set up.
On the other hand, if you have a child that is not content learning by merely reading, look for curricula that engage the learner and have lessons that are hands-on. The task of finding a good fit for teacher and student is daunting. 

I've created some planning pages to help you keep track of the information flood you are about to experience.
As you research various curricula, keep track of the information on the Curriculum Shopper.
Use 1 per subject, per child.

Once you've made a decision, record your choices the Curriculum Planner.
Use 1 per child.

If you can, print out the TABLE OF CONTENTS for each curriculum as you purchase it.
Many companies provide this as part of the preview and many times the lesson are divided evenly over the customary 36 weeks or 180 days. Now you can fill in the Scope and Sequence.
 A good starting point for actual lesson planning, is to create a Scope and Sequence.
It's basically a WHAT you teach, WHEN you teach it document.
Fill in the subjects along the top and then fill in the general lesson idea for each week.
Example: MATH- addition without regrouping, measurement (liquids)

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