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Really need help with curriculum!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've essentially put together my own curriculum and have been teaching my daughter preschool at home. She will turn 5 and should start kindergarten next year. I've looked at a bunch of curriculums this past year and it's left me more confused about what to get. I would like something that essentially teaches the same pace/criteria as public school, just something I can do at home. I know I can always individually tailor/adjust a lesson, I just want to make sure I'm not forgetting any lessons, and that I'm touching on everything they teach in public school. I am starting to panic now!


So here we go: What curriculum have you used? What was your favorite part, least favorite part? Did you supplement any weak areas, and if so what did you use? What was the cost?


I really REALLY appreciate any help or feedback or suggestions from Mamas that have been here before!


post #2 of 13

What state are you in? Are you somewhere that offers home charter school options? If you want something that's aligned with the public schools that you can do at home, something like Connections Academy or K12 might work well for you.

post #3 of 13

"Everything they teach in public school" is going to vary a lot depending on which school you're talking about.  For instance, a public school in my area is trying something new this year - teaching first graders to write in cursive.  This isn't an idea they just came up with on their own; there's research showing benefits to using cursive for kids just starting to write.   But it's not something all schools are doing, either. 


Should a kid be starting to read by the end of kindergarten?  According to the new Common Core standards most states have adopted, yes.  But that hasn't been the norm in all schools and won't suddenly become the norm everywhere just because of the new standards.  If your kindergartener doesn't learn to read next year, she may be behind kindergarteners in some places, but right on track with kindergarteners in some other places.


I'd suggest letting go of the idea that the education provided in schools is the standard you should be aiming for, and that your kid will be harmed if you miss teaching some of the concepts she would have learned in school.  Yeah, you want to make sure she learns to read and write and do math, and it's probably a good idea to look at state standards or tests or work examples for your kid's grade to see if she's in the same ballpark as other kids her age.  But as long as she gets the basics, it's really not going to matter if you forget to teach her what a preposition is or how to read a bar graph.  And you can do so much better than most schools in a lot of areas, like encouraging curiosity and critical thinking.


If you're worried that you might forget something important, it's probably more cost and time efficient just to spend a few hours researching what's typically taught in your kid's grade than to buy a whole packaged curriculum and follow it.  But if you really want to buy curriculum, my guess is that any well-known packaged curriculum is going to be close enough to what kids are doing in public school that you won't have to worry about huge gaps.


We haven't used curriculum.  We have a variety of math workbooks, mostly gathered at random from places like yard sales.  We use them sometimes, but I often find it's just as easy to write out my own problems with a pen and paper.  We check out lots of books from the library and we have lots of books at home.  (Most of them bought cheap at yard sales, library book sales, etc.)  Cost: practically nothing.  And my kids are at least on par with public school kids.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm in Massachusetts. Apparently I don't have to submit anything to the school until my dd turns 6, so I actually have another year, which is a big relief. I think I'm just stressed/nervous because I've never done it before, and I'm afraid I'll mess up. I'm less interested in following the state's curriculum exactly, and just more worried and about forgetting something and having a big hole in my dd's education. 


Daffodil I think I might end up just doing something along the lines of what you said. That's essentially what I've done for teaching my dd preschool and starting to teach some kindergarten. I looked up my state's frameworks for preschool/kindergarten and have been touching on all those, but teaching it in (I think at least) in a more creative way. I've only used Handwriting Without Tears, and for the rest I've made my own materials/activities for essentially. The part the worries me is that next year I do have to submit an educational plan with a list of materials I'm using, (apparently even though you don't have to use them...) and I'm just worried if I don't reference a curriculum that it won't be taken well.

post #5 of 13

Don't over-complicate this! There's no need to worry about "missing out on lessons." Some things are taught in school because they're important bits of practical knowledge or basic skills, things that are essential in the 'real world.' You don't have to worry about this stuff being learned because your child will be living in the 'real world' and will absorb those skills and bits of knowledge organically. 

(I once had a well-meaning teacher ask me how I made sure that my KG'er and 2nd-grader learned all the fiddly little parts of math, "Like ordinals," she said, "Lots of kids learn to count, but they need to be taught words like third, fourth, fifth and so on." I practically rolled my eyes out loud: how could my kids, living their lives alongside adults who interacted with them all day long, fail to have learned these words for ordering objects?)


Anyway, some KG/elementary school learning is important because it's part of real life, but that's the part your child won't need to be taught, because she's part of your life all day every day. And some stuff is taught that doesn't become a building block for other skills and doesn't come up in real life, and that's the stuff you might miss out on. But here's the thing: a huge portion of kids in school will not retain that learning, so it'll be taught over and over again. And if you miss it with your kid in 1st grade, and she starts school in 3rd, or 5th or 9th, she'll have an opportunity to learn it then, along with most of the school-children who have only the vaguest memory of ever being taught it before. 


My eldest dd, now 20, was unschooled until 9th grade. She was extremely focused on reading, writing and music, and hadn't ever touched a science curriculum. She started school at age 14 and decided to take 10th grade science rather than 9th grade. She did really well in the course. I remember us noticing that there was a fair bit of material in the chemistry portion of the curriculum, even though it started with the absolute most basic intro to what-is-chemistry and what-are-atoms and such. It was only years later when one of my younger kids borrowed the 7th, 8th and 9th-grade science textbooks from the school that I realized that all that basic information was also taught at all three of those levels, and the reason the 10th grade book had a lot of chem in it was that they were re-teaching it from scratch for all the kids who had forgotten or never mastered the basics (or in my dd's case, never encountered them in the first place). 


So two things should reassure you. First, even if you do little to no systematic teaching, your daughter will naturally cover a lot of stuff that gets written into curriculums. Second, gaps are ridiculously easy to fill, if they need filling at all. 


I too have to submit a learning plan for each year. Even though my dd is now a 7th grader our plan largely consists of statements like "Materials which will be made available will include _____" and lists stuff like on-line video channels, library books, real-life resources like kitchen tools, DVD documentaries, out-of-home activities, mentors and such. Our supervising teacher loves our learning plans.



post #6 of 13

OP-  I agree not to over complicate things.  In Iowa compulsory age is 6-16.  I wouldn't worry before then- real life is  going to teach them a lot by that time.  We do a LOT of read alouds at our house.  It is amazing what kids can learn from listening to good books.  I do however use MFW for each grade level- because I need simple and laid out and it is so much easier to pick up the teachers guide and sheets and whatnot than me find the time to come up with something.  I am inclined to think (along with most homeschoolers) that it doesn't matter what the public schools are doing- eventually my kids will cover roughly the same things just probably at a different time.  That is ok since we are in it for the long haul.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yeah, you're all right about children absorbing a ton of things just by encountering them naturally. I'll always joke with my dh that our dd is like an elephant and never forgets anything, because she recalls things that I didn't even think she was paying attention to. I think I'll use the next year to find what really works for me, and get in a good flow before I actually have to submit things.


Moominmama You're definitely right about them re-teaching the same things over and over again. I would always forget things over the summer and remember having to relearn formulas, etc again at the start of the school year. Hopefully, since I will be homeschooling all year, she will retain her knowledge better. 


I think I just need to take a breath and relax, I just got really worried that I would stink at homeschooling, but everyone has been a great help. Thanks! :bgbounce

post #8 of 13

When my oldest was reaching kindergarten age, I looked at what our state is required to teach them--there is a nice website-- and translated them to our homeschooling style.  For recognizing and extrapolating sequences I bought some fun beads for them to play with.  I subscribed to PuzzleBuzz, a Highlights publication, bought the girls a nice composition book and kept the paper and pencils and pens stocked.  We played games together.  There was NOTHING in their standards that I couldn't easily include in something engaging, or, as moominmamma said, seemed silly that I should take time to *teach*  it and I could skip.


Since that initial look I haven't looked back.  I've been far too busy with what they *have* been learning to worry about what they *aren't*.  I might look here as dd1 nears the "4th grade" now that she is old enough to take a required assessment test each year (which she aced even though I haven't been paying any mind to those lists recently, except in spelling which she did abysmally but it's not like I thought "Oh, 2nd graders practice spelling?  I had no idea...."  :p).  


I haven't dismissed that resource permanently, but I don't concern myself with it much either.  The danger is that some people might feel overwhelmed looking at those lists.  I'm not one of those people.  I tend to think "I can cover 15 of those with one game of Monopoly."  And if I happen to hear one of my girls show me something they made or discovered, or just in the course of the day see a particular developmental skill in action, I mentally check it off and call it good.  


If you are not even close to being one of those people who can easily cherry pick what you want and leave the rest, then disregard this advice.  Otherwise, I find the lists helpful.

post #9 of 13

I would focus your curriculum efforts on Math.  Get a good math curriculum that you think will work with your daughter's personality and learning style, and don't worry about the rest.  Everything else in K can be taught with a library card and some art supplies IMO.  

post #10 of 13

I really liked Five in a Row for that age.

post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by gizzyntaz View Post

  Everything else in K can be taught with a library card and some art supplies IMO.  

I disagree.  I think *everything* in kindy can be taught without curriculum, and better.  How many picture books have counting?  How many games play with pattern recognition?  The only reason I could see for a curriculum for kindy is a for a parent who feels more comfortable with using it (usually to be thorough and methodical about it for their peace of mind), and a child who enjoys it as well.  Kindy math is easy.

post #12 of 13
Agree with SS about kindy math. We have used curriculum pretty consistently for math even though we're unschoolers because my kids enjoy math bookwork. But we didn't start curriculum until they asked, and they were already at a mid to late second grade level then and easily at or beyond grade level, despite not having done anything school-like or structured. At most at that age I would gently guide some games and activities that promote number sense and an optimistic curious attitude to math.

Edited by moominmamma - 2/14/14 at 5:11pm
post #13 of 13

I also liked books by Peggy Kaye, specifically Games for Learning at that age.  Your library may have them.

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