Summer School for Mom: Choosing Materials

Now that we have our goals in place, it is safe to start finding those tools that will help us reach those goals. Choosing materials can be a daunting task. There are so many good choices!

Here are seven ideas that will hopefully help us in our selection:

1. Keep Our Goals in Front of Us

Those goals that we have taken the time to establish in advance will keep us from becoming sidetracked. We can compare the materials we are considering to our goals.

  • How well do these materials help us meet our goals?
  • How well might they accomplish our goals if we tweak?
  • What might we change to make a better fit?

Sometimes the distance between our goals and the materials we are considering is so great that we will quickly realize we need to look elsewhere. On the other hand, we are very unlikely to find a perfect fit. Some adaptation will probably be helpful.

And remember, we only need to purchase materials for one year. Our needs may change. Plans may need to be tweaked. We only need to walk one step at a time.

2. Curriculum is a Tool

Just keep reminding me of this simple fact! The materials that we choose should serve us, not enslave us.

As with any tool, it is OK to pick and choose what we need from various sources, modify our choices to fit our needs, throw things out when they lose their helpfulness. If it can’t be modified to fit our needs, we probably won’t be happy with it in the long run. Besides, there is no magic bullet. Again, we are unlikely to find the right curriculum.

3. What Type of Tutor Are You?

  • Do you prefer something all laid out?
  • Do you prefer to pull things together and mix and match?
  • Are you more a do-it-yourselfer?

The considered answer to these questions will help us avoid those materials that will not work for us!

4. Focus on the Child

Children, like adults, do not all learn in the same way. They do not all go at the same pace. We each have our strengths that can help us move forward, and our weaknesses that will need to be addressed.

We can plan to move at our child’s pace, choosing materials that will fit each one — where he is — no matter what level that puts him at.

Further Reading

Setting the Pace
Hints for moving at the speed of your child.

5. Does Your Curriculum Pass the Test?

If it is all about passing tests, probably not. We can look for materials that:

  • Encourage research and investigation.
  • Encourage a child to learn for himself.
  • Require more from a child than a simple recall of facts.

Look for depth vs. breadth.

Further Reading

Bloom’s & Critical Thinking {Complete Series}
Ways to naturally move from simple fact recall to in-depth studies!

6. Incorporate Natural Learning

Learning can be a 24-7 adventure that lasts a lifetime. The more our children realize this, the better learners they will become.

How does an adult learn more about an area of interest? He typically doesn’t go out and purchase a textbook!

By taking advantage of daily learning opportunities, our need for material decreases as we use what is on hand. Obviously skill areas need to build one upon another, but even in those areas, natural learning can come alongside as a tool to help develop a concept.

Further Research

Teach a Child to Read: The Natural Way
Ideas for organic learning at its best!

Language Arts the Natural Way
And just keep going!

Beechick Basics
Dr. Ruth Beechick is amazing when it comes to finding natural ways to move through a curriculum.

7. Avoid Bandwagons and Comparisons

There is a hot, new product on the market nearly every year. Boy, that bandwagon has swung in all kinds of directions since this site has been on the web!

If it fits us, fine. If not — it may be best to avoid it! Yes, even if our best friend, guru, or some awesome homeschool mom uses it!

Additional Reading

102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
Zeros in on the best of the best. Read our entire review.

11 Tips: Choose Curriculum Without Becoming Overwhelmed!
Keep your focus on the needs of your family and purchase with confidence!

5 Tips for Making Curriculum Choices Easier
Become educated, keep it simple, and off you go!

6 Tips: Making Wise Curriculum Purchases
More simple ideas!

Enjoy the entire series:
Summer School for Mom
Summer School for Mom Series

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