Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does Curriculum Really Matter?

I think I have been a homeschooler long enough to answer this confidently:

Not really.

In the past, every Spring brought out anxiety over which curriculum to use, which was better than the next, etc.  I've done everything from Google-schooling (finding random activities and free downloads online) and spending hundreds of dollars on 'top-notch' curriculum.

My verdict is....none of it is any good if you don't enjoy it.

Take for example my science curriculum.

Not cheap.  Lots of great books and activity sets though.  A teachers manual with every day of every week planned out for me.


My science loving kids just weren't lovin it.

Yesterday I just 'went rogue', and did things the way I always do...spend a little time on Google, found activities that corresponded with our science topic, and meshed the two together.

The kids had a wonderful time.  After reading our lesson about buoyancy and density, we did several experiments including building a aluminum foil boat and seeing how many pennies we could add to it before it sank, used a potato chip bag, 100 pennies and a margarine tub lid to see how we could make something that would float and carry all the pennies, watched a video demonstration of the Archimedes Principle (which also taught us the formula of measuring the displaced water to find the weight of the object floating), as well as a Mythbusters episode on our very topic.  We added salt to water to see if we could 'float' an egg after we studied the Dead Sea and learned why it is so easy to float in.  We floated an ice cube in a glass of water and then discussed why the same ice cube would *not* float in a cup of rubbing alcohol.

It was engaging, and it was fun.

I know moms that stress about getting the perfect curriculum.  I hate to tell them this, but it doesn't exist.

What makes a curriculum 'perfect' is the passion of the teacher teaching and of the students learning, and you can't find that for sale anywhere.

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