I adore giving gifts. Everything about the process excites me. To the gift giver, the presentation of the gift is as equally important as the actual gift. I recently bought a gift for a friend and tried to force the gift in what I thought was the perfect box. The contents simply wouldn’t fit in the box. Desperation got the best of me, and I tried to cram the items in but was unsuccessful. At that point, I had two choices: wedge the contents in which would risk damaging them or change or modify the box. Parents and educators often do the same to kids. We cram them into a curriculum box or an educational paradigm with the force of an educational battering ram without considering their unique design and learning styles.
A new curriculum serves as a motivator for me. The moment I place the order, I countdown the days that the UPS man delivers that “hope” in a box. My hope lies in that the change of curriculum might solve some of my academic frustration with one or more of my children. Over the years, though, I’ve learned to adjust curriculum so that I respect and address each child’s individual learning needs.
Diana Waring, a pioneer in homeschooling and author of the History Revealed curriculum, reminds parents and educators:
Make the Curriculum Fit Your Child Not Fit the Child to the Curriculum
One of my children has auditory processing challenges, so before the school year commences, I scan the curriculum looking for ways to modify the curriculum to meet her needs. Take history, for example, this year we studied ancient history, so we listened to the audio of a lesson, then did a key word outline for that lesson, looking for the interesting, relevant, and important facts. Another activity might be to have her draw or do a coloring page for the lesson and write the key words on her illustration.
For example, if my child struggles with spelling and the curriculum suggests a 20-word weekly spelling list, I might modify that list to ten.
If the math curriculum offers a 36-week schedule and math is an area of difficulty for my child, I might consider extending the 36-week schedule to a 40-week. Of course, that would require us to alter our annual academic plan, but it would afford additional time to master the material before moving on. By modifying the schedule, I am not bound to the schedule dictated by the curriculum. For the benefit of my child, I am not moving on to the next lesson just for the sake of adhering to the schedule established by the curriculum.
Never Refuse to Help
Andrew Pudewa, Director of the Institute of the Excellence in Writing program says this repeatedly never to “hold back help.” You may need to repeat or demonstrate a process repeatedly until your child can perform the skill independently or mastery of content.
Know When to Get Help
There is always the option of hiring a tutor. Your County Board of Education will most likely provide a list of qualified, local tutors or learning centers.
Create Measurable Academic Goals Each Year
It is prudent to evaluate your child’s academic progress at the end of every school year. For each subject, establish specific, measurable goals that are attainable. One of my kids has a reading challenge, so rather than read every novel the curriculum outlines, we reset the reading list according to my child’s ability. An annual reading goal for literature might look something like this: We will read one (measurable part of the goal) novel per month. Then, we would break down the annual goal into monthly/weekly goals. A weekly goal: We will read five (measurable part of the goal) pages a day (varies based on the number of pages of the novel). Depending on that child’s workload for the week, we may split the daily reading into several pages that I read aloud, and the rest is silent reading.
Assigning two to three measurable goals for each subject is possible or breaking down into sub-categories is also an option. Let’s take English/Language Arts for example. I might divide that subject into spelling, writing, literature, grammar. Then I would compose a measurable quarterly goal for each sub-category:
Spelling: Spell 80% of your list correctly.
Writing: Write one paragraph with an introduction, topic sentence, and a concluding sentence.
Literature: Read five pages of a novel per day, then write a key word outline.
Grammar: Memorize one grammar rule per week, diagram two sentences per day, and complete one editing exercise per week.
I provided an Academic goal setting printable to use as you plan for this upcoming school year.
Download curriculum goal setting printable Academic Goals (click here)
Our children are magnificently and uniquely fashioned, so we need to consider this deeply as we rip the cellophane and open the box of a curriculum at the start of each school year.
What considerations do you give when purchasing a specific curriculum? Are you tempted to push your child into a particular educational paradigm/model without accommodating his/her needs or learning style?