Debbie on “The Perfect Curriculum”

Choosing to homeschool your child can be an exciting yet daunting task.   I was nervous – was I able to teach my kids to read? I knew that reading was the key to unlocking their ability to learn. When you can read you can learn about anything you want. How nervous was I about teaching reading? Enough that I delayed starting to homeschool for a whole year.

I know some of you are wondering… but what about math? Pssshh! I wasn’t nervous about teaching math… I did well with it in school… it’ll be easy… I was in honors math classes after all. I can already hear some of y’all laughing!

God has a sense of humor when He called me to homeschool our six children. Little did I know the challenges, joys, tears, and laughter that would be involved. And let me get this out there… math was NOT that easy to teach. Nope… not at all.

I’ve learned there are three main things that can affect teaching a subject: my child, me, and the curriculum itself.

  1. My child. The truth is… some children learn easier than others. Some will zip through their curriculum and totally understand everything they’re taught while others… can make you cry and wonder what in the world have you’ve gotten yourself into. They bring you to your knees. They make you see what you are made of. Are you in this for the long haul? Or not? Which brings us to #2.
  2. Me. What am I willing and able to do? Let’s be realistic. Teaching children at home takes time. A lot of your time. Are you willing to give the necessary time? Are you able to? Are you willing to adapt the curriculum to fit your child? Or would you rather spend time bouncing from one curriculum to another trying to find the perfect match? Which brings us to #3.
  3. The curriculum. There is no perfect curriculum. I hate to say it, but after 24 years of homeschooling, it’s true. There are some really great curricula out there but I’ve never found one that I didn’t have to tweak. Children who learn quickly need curriculum tweaking just as much as children who are delayed, struggling, or average.

Curriculum is written for the “average” student and RightStart Math is no different. But let’s face it… not all our children are “average.” Some are above average while others may have mild to severe learning challenges. And even if they are average, they will hit a “wall” somewhere along the line. How many of us resort to looking for new curriculum when we find the curriculum we are using isn’t perfect? I started out being one of those who spent my time bouncing from one curriculum to another…. especially when it came to math. Until I found RightStart.

What I came to realize in my search for the perfect math curriculum was that I never really understood math. I could do math… but couldn’t explain the whys. So when my children hit a “wall” I didn’t know how to help them because I didn’t understand enough to be able to explain. And if the curriculum didn’t help me understand… what was I to do? I’d try another curriculum. I tried at least six math programs till we found RightStart.

RightStart Math teaches how to think mathematically. How to solve problems. How to apply what you’ve learned. It also has games that makes learning the facts more fun. I also appreciate that it’s written by a woman who is an electrical engineer with a PhD in math. But it still wasn’t the perfect curriculum.

I still had children who hit some walls. However what was different this time was that in teaching my children… RightStart was also teaching ME. I was FINALLY understanding, which helped me feel more confident about tweaking the curriculum to fit our need.

It takes bravery to step outside the box and tweak a curriculum. It’s also very liberating. And I was relieved that I didn’t feel the need to search for the next perfect math curriculum, but rather I felt confident to perfect the math program I was already using.

We’ve written several articles focused on the child with learning challenges but what about those children who catch on quicker? These are the children who easily get bored with the lesson or balk about doing something because it’s “too easy.” Now what do you do? Can RightStart be adapted for a child who catches on quicker than the lessons teach? Absolutely!

Stay tuned. Rachel will be sharing tips on how to teach a child who is advanced in our next segment.

 

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Comments

  1. Anxious to hear about tweaking for an advanced student! I love Rightstart for the same reasons you described, but lately it has become a challenge to keep my daughter’s attention and keep it interesting because they are pretty bored with it. It’s also difficult because I have babies that drain my time and energy, so the big kids are always waiting on me to have a lesson or play a game. It feels like I’m holding them back.

  2. I am ready to order RightStart Math C books. I want to get the taxes taken off with my tax exempt number. I suppose I have to call on Tuesday and talk to someone to do that, huh?

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