It's Not About What is the Best Curriculum, But What is Best for Your Child: My first year mistake was believing that the most thorough, the most eloquently designed, the most advanced curriculum was the best for my daughter. I had heard high praise of this one Language Arts curriculum and believed that because it looked appealing, it was well written, it was more advanced than the public schools, it must be the curriculum for us.
Six months into homeschooling, I scrapped that material and started fresh with something slower, had no pictures, but amazingly, my daughter began to excel and enjoy school again. When we started the following year, I asked for her input on what curriculum, she chose the pictureless worksheets, despite more aesthetic appealing curriculum to choose from.
I think too often we assume because a curriculum worked for other people, that it is the right one for our child. We also assume, just because we love it, that guarantees our children will embrace it with the same or at least some affection too. Each child is different. Each child learns differently. Part of why many of us choose to homeschool is because we want our children to have individualized education. What is more individualized than choosing a curriculum that is best suited for YOUR child.
You Don't Have to Finish the Book for a Thorough Education: Another huge mistake I made was having my daughter answer every question, on every page, and plan the year out so that we finished the entire book. Well, I have a secret for you. Even teachers in public schools do not complete an entire book. We don't need to either.
I learned very quickly that most texts, especially in math and grammar, give a lot more practice problems than every child needs. Yes, there is the child who needs to do all 100 fraction problems that entire week, before they fully understand the concept. Then there are others, who may do ten the first day and fully grasp the concept. The other 90 percent is just superfluous and just busy work with no added value.
Once I realized this, I began to cross out problems. For instance, if she took a test last Friday and got 100 percent, I would cross off all, but one of each problem she got correct in the schoolwork assignments the following week. I always kept one problem figuring the refresher was a good idea, to keep it fresh in her mind. If she suddenly struggled with one of those problems, guess what wouldn't be crossed off the following week! Although I make it clear, it's for extra practice, not as a punishment.
Completion of the Written Curriculum is NOT the Goal, nor Should It Ever Be: When I started to homeschool, it was not because I wanted her to be ahead of her peers or because I hated public school. It was because I wanted her to have a full education, mind, body, and spirit. Public school was teaching her mind and body very well, but I realized that the spirit needed more nourishment.
I had to decide what my goal is. Although my daughter says she wants to be a dentist, my goal is not for her to become a dentist, although she very well could. My goal is that she becomes a self-sufficient adult, who fears the Lord, while being successful in the business world if she so chooses. I want her to succeed at life, but not just so she has a fat pocketbook, but so that she also has a full spirit. I realized that any one curriculum can only take her so far, the rest is in the approach of the teacher, and the willingness of the student. I learned that I needed to be patient with her, especially when she struggles. I learned that I needed to guide her, not force her. I learned that I needed her to know it is okay to fail as long as you learn from those failures.
I still take forever choosing curriculum and still spend too long gawking at all the pretty pages, but I am learning it's not about the curriculum, it's about the relationships and values I am instilling in my daughter, including her relationship with learning and how she values education.