Many of us are slowing down at the close of this school year. We’re finishing books, packing things away for the summer, and tossing some books in the trash. Sometimes we get books, thinking they’re the best thing in homeschool curriculum, only to find out it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I wonder if that could be part of our frustration with homeschooling? Not everyone can fork out more dough to buy yet another book mid-school year. We try to improvise, using a few pages here and there, but really….we’re not impressed with the books. Am I alone in the idea that a homeschool vendor should be publishing high quality educational materials?
I’m not talking about the quality of the paper or ink they use. I’m not even talking about the design of their covers or the strength of the bind. I’m talking about books that have methods of teaching that really grasp our kids’ attention and inspire them to want to learn. We try to schedule our time well when it comes to researching curriculum, we listen to what other homeschoolers are saying, and we buy into the marketing tactics the vendors are presenting.
What about the kids? What do they think? It is, after all, their education.
Being a good teacher is about finding ways to inspire kids to want to learn. When they’re inspired, they’ll learn. So how do you inspire a child? How do you inspire a special needs child? Each child is unique and has different learning styles. Parent, we need to be creative.
As homeschoolers, we often say that the public school system is boxed in. We declare that we want to be out of the box, yet so much of the homeschool curriculum out there is just like public school curriculum. Replacing text with religious jargon doesn’t make it ‘Christian curriculum”. I believe many vendors are trying to provide our community with materials that incorporate our faith into the texts, but we get frustrated (as do the kids) when the style of education is still “in the box”. Even many government officials declare how messed up the educational system is. That’s why they’re introducing Common Core.
So here are two thoughts I felt challenged by.
- If we, homeschoolers, know the education method of the government is messed up, why are we still using their methods at home?
- If we, homeschoolers, see the government admitting it’s messed up and changing it, will we keep using it?
Wake County’s public school Teacher of the Year, Lauren Brooks, gives an illustration of what’s wrong with how they’ve taught wrong for so many years.
In this video, Lauren is giving an example of her method to a room full of adults. Not only is she demonstrating a concept, she is essentially conducting herself as she does in class. However, she doesn’t explain some of her methods, she is simply demonstrating them.
When I watched this video and saw her explain what’s wrong with Math books, I opened a popular Christian homeschool curriculum Math book. The book was designed to follow the same pattern Lauren says is wrong. How Lauren is teaching this room full of adults is how I’ve been teaching at home. I’ve ripped pages out of books and only used what works for my kids. I’ve made my own Math worksheets and written my own word problems.
On the surface, Common Core sounds like a step up. I think the desire to raise the education standard is a good idea, but so many teachers were taught the old “boxed in” style of teaching. Not every teacher knows how to be as creative as Lauren.
Since my kids aren’t in public school, I don’t need to get involved in how the public schools teach, but what I do think is important is taking note of what they’re doing and why. What I think is crucial, as a homeschool consumer, is what our vendors are going to do to make their materials more applicable, more inspiring, and more flexible.
After watching the video with Lauren, can you identify her methods? What is she doing differently than many other teachers? What does she do, that you do at home? Take a look at your homeschool Math books and see if they follow the same failing pattern that public schools have always followed.
What will you be changing for next year?
Do you feel encouraged to keep homeschooling?
What are your thoughts about Common Core?
May we be humble enough to find what can work for our kids while weeding out what doesn’t.
A good teacher is a humble teacher.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
― Mark Twain