Our Story (Part 3 of 4)
Choosing a curriculum might be the most important educational decision your home school group makes. For A One-Room Schoolhouse, this was the decision that made the initial idea of a one-room style school possible. Choose a curriculum wisely.
The following are factors you might consider when choosing a curriculum for your family or your home school group:
Charlotte Mason? Traditional? Classical? Unschooling? What kind of homeschoolers are you?
The list can be endless and honestly, a bit overwhelming. Within each of the popular homeschool philosophies are countless variations and practices. Furthermore, some homeschoolers find the best fit is a blend of methodologies depending on the subject and learning style of the student.
It may help you to take a homeschool style quiz like the one found at Homeschool On. Additionally, you can read up on different philosophies on the same page or Google your top result to see what description connects with you and your family.
At A One-Room Schoolhouse, we selected a curriculum that is not based on one specific educational method. The Good and the Beautiful curriculum creators “intensely studied many different philosophies over a period of years and compiled what they felt were the best elements from several different philosophies, pulling mainly from Charlotte Mason.”
Finally, we believe strongly in the value of a flexible, rigorous, and comprehensive education emphasizing the highest of moral values, the innate need for children to play and be in nature, and the family’s central role in learning.
Mastery or spiral? Teacher-directed instruction or student exploration? Like identifying your philosophy, understanding your teaching method is also crucial.
What is most important to remember when considering the teaching method is the MATCH between the student, the teacher, and the subject.
- Research has shown that students with a learning disability benefit from teacher-directed, error minimized, mastery instruction in the affected area of disability.
- Science often lends itself to more discovery in the structure of lessons allowing for student exploration with a spiral review of needed supporting concepts.
- As students mature, they often need less structure and thrive off of more self-directed exploratory learning. In contrast, some less mature students need more structure and guidance to their learning.
- Many students find hands-on learning to be the most engaging, but some others find it confusing and overwhelming.
This list could go on forever!
In short, the method A One-Room Schoolhouse employs deepens understanding through mastery learning and spiral review. Teaching methods are varied between direct, guided, experiential, and discovery to best suit the learner and subject matter. Read more about A One-Room Schoolhouse’s methodology here.
3) Preparation Requirements
When I made one of my first selections as a homeschool parent, I selected a preschool program that I adored! It was everything I wanted! It was play-based, driven by a letter of the week, and then combined a corresponding lesson on our Christian faith.
But, not really. It required So. Much. Prep.
Seriously! I did the prep and made it reusable so I could cut out the prep time in future years. Although I still use this curriculum in my home today, I have since found others that are much more open and go. I doubt I could do that much prep with my current life!
Moral of the story: know yourself. Understand your prep limitation. If you can cut, laminate, and shop for all the things, then go for it. If not, keep your eyes out for something more “open and go”.
The “open and go” style of The Good and the Beautiful curriculum is key to our system at A One-Room Schoolhouse. Along with next to no preparation, it allows the student to work at home and at A One-Room Schoolhouse with a smooth transition from one setting to the other.
Stop and think about what worldview you want to share with your students. Start with: religious or secular? Then you might ask yourself more specific questions about if you want a specific religious view, a certain view of the origin of the world, or a particular historical perspective.
At A One-Room Schoolhouse a non-denominational Christian worldview allows students from a variety of backgrounds to study together and to find common ground in faith and learning. We also choose not to involve a signed statement of faith as part of our application. (Read more about this in our FAQ.) Ultimately, if a parent has reviewed and approved the curriculum used by A One-Room Schoolhouse, then we welcome them and their child to join our group.
5) Academic Rigor
Every parent wants the best education for their child. Matching the rigor of a curriculum with a child’s learning needs can be difficult. Rigor refers to both the depth and pace of the curriculum. Of course, a curriculum can be adjusted to meet your student’s needs, but finding the best match from the start can simplify the process.
As a result of considering these factors, A One-Room Schoolhouse chose The Good and the Beautiful because it is an academically rigorous program that engages students in a comprehensive, wholesome, and attractive learning journey.
If you can’t afford a curriculum, it is not the curriculum for you. Period. You can spend thousands of dollars or zero dollars on the curriculum. Make a budget and stick to it. It is important to consider additional cost factors like:
- Printing and ink
- Outside materials (science experiments, art supplies, math manipulatives)
- Technology requirements
When considering these budget items, A One-Room Schoolhouse felt the low cost of The Good and the Beautiful (combined with many of the benefits listed above) felt like the perfect fit for us.
What do I mean when I talk about flexibility? Flexibility in placement. Some box curriculum comes as a set, requiring you to purchase all subjects together for the grade level. I strongly caution against this as it can lead to all kinds of trouble. Students often excel in one subject area and need more help in another. Consider putting together a program where a child can start at their instructional level in EACH subject area.
The Good and the Beautiful allows for student-level placement that can meet each child, in each subject, at their individual skill level.
8) Teacher’s Role and Student’s Role
Next, look at the teacher’s and the student’s role in the curriculum. Does it require lots of direct instruction from the teacher? Is the student left to monitor their own progress? How much time as an instructor do you have to invest in each lesson? Is your student self-motivated or need lots of accountability?
It is important to be realistic about how much guidance you can give as the teacher and how much support your student will need. Increasing independence was very important for us at A One-Room Schoolhouse as we seek to develop a life long learner.
As the students mature, each will gain ownership of their education and proceed through each academic level into more self-directed learning.
After narrowing down your curriculum choices, start looking at reviews of your top selections. Next, look up Facebook groups dedicated to that curriculum. Similarly, search YouTube for reviews and thoughts.
Ask other homeschoolers about their experience with your top selections. If possible, see if you can preview the curriculum at a conference, from a friend, at a storefront, or through online samples.
What curriculum did you choose? Just one or a mix and match of your favorites? Why did you make that choice?
We would love to hear from you in our comments below!