Friday, April 21, 2017

Designing Curriculum

When one is homeschooling, there are two ways of choosing curriculum.  The first is to purchase an all-in-one curriculum.  This could be an all-in-one that integrates multiple subjects like My Father's World or Sonlight.  Or it could be an all-in-one that puts everything together for individual subjects, like Abeka, Saxon, or Christian Light.

The second way to put together curriculum is to draw from different resources.  This takes more time, but it can allow you to modify and tailor your curriculum to your child's needs and to what you want to teach.  Often this can help you save a lot of money.  I read recently on Facebook where one mom was looking for alternatives to spending a thousand dollars on curriculum for one of her children.

This second way is the way I've always put together our curriculum.  I budget around $500 per year for all three of my children together.  I purchase a lot of fiction books through the school year because our library system doesn't usually have the books my kids love, but saving money on curriculum allows me to do this.

I make a list of each subject for each child for the coming year and then go subject by subject choosing curriculum.  When I find a publisher I particularly like, then they become the place I start looking.  For grades K-6, Evan-Moor, EPS books, and Harcourt were the three publishers I looked at first.

One of the resources I've often used is books from Evan-Moor.  One example of how I've used their books is their Daily Math Practice.  I use a mastery curriculum, so my kids needed a little bit of review every day.  There are homeschool curriculums, known as spiral curriculums that switch concepts every day--like a spiral--such as Horizons, Saxon, and Abeka that build in a lot of daily review.  But, there are other popular math programs like Singapore and Harcourt that move chapter by chapter from one large concept to the next--mastery curriculum.

I've gone with Harcourt Math for grades K-6 for my kids and have loved it. Harcourt publishes consumable books for grades K-2 and then hardcover texts for grades 3-6.  I also purchased the homework book for grades 3-6 because some of my children did better if they didn't have to write the problem down and only needed to focus on doing the problems.  But, I needed some way to add some review work in every day for my kids since it is a mastery curriculum.  The Evan-Moor practice books have been my solution--give 5 problems per day, which is perfect--not too much nor too little.  They are right on grade level--with grade level appropriate instructions.  There is a mixture of math problems and word problems.

Homeschooling curriculum can add up fast and one of the ways that I've saved is by buying used public school books and purchasing the Evan-Moor books--the teacher books are reproducible, so I was able to buy one book, make two copies and store it after my first child was done, and then let my third child write in the book.  I also discovered that on the Evan-Moor website, they sell student books!  They cost far less and don't have to be copied (less work for mom!).

It's been interesting transitioning into middle school and high school math after finding such a good solution for our elementary years for my kids.   But, those comments need another post of there own...

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