Are you confident enough to build your own curriculum? Do you believe in yourself and your ability to teach your children? If the answer isn’t yes, don’t stress! I have been in your exact same shoes and hopefully this post will help. If you would have told me years ago that I would not be following a curriculum, I would have thought you were crazy! I never in a million years thought that I was capable or “smart enough” to teach my children and build my own curriculum.
Having said that, when I started my homeschooling journey, I was not ready to build my own curriculum at first. I needed to remove myself from the conveyor belt way of schooling a little bit at a time. I needed to build confidence in myself. At that point I had no idea what my boys were even learning.
After much prayer and different mentors helping me, I finally let go of the curriculum that was tying me down. When I did this, I almost felt liberated!! I learned a lot in the process and I realized a few things.
The first thing I realized
The checkmarks and lessons we did everyday created a false sense of achievement. I thought, we just have to get through this lesson and we will be done! However, I found it left myself and my boys uninspired. There were some days my boys read a total of one paragraph throughout the lesson. There wasn’t time for anything else. I also NEVER had time to read aloud to my boys.
One day I saw the irony in it all when I realized my boys knew spelling rules, but couldn’t actually spell very well. They knew a lot of rules for the English language, but they didn’t read very proficiently. It was then I knew something needed to change. There had to be a better way to teach my boys.
I have no doubt that if we continued to use the curriculum, my boys would be very knowledgable. For me it wasn’t an issue of whether or not they were learning or not, it was an issue of, they were not being inspired. They simply didn’t get excited to learn. We didn’t have inspiring discussions that filled their hearts. They did the bare minimum to get by.
The second thing I realized
There is GENIUS inside each of my boys and if I teach them all the same way, how is that genius going to come out? A one size fits all curriculum isn’t the answer. Each of my boys are different, excel in different things and enjoy reading different things.
How do I teach them??
The third thing I realized (probably the most important thing)
I was feeding the mind of my boys and not their hearts. When the heart is not the focus, information can be spooned into your brain but will quickly find a way out. As I look back on my own education, I was a great student. I conformed very nicely and did what I needed to do and was a great memorizer! I did well on tests and I distinctly remember forgetting the information a couple days later.
My heart wasn’t in it, and much of what I learned left quickly. I wasn’t a reader and didn’t become an avid reader until I began homeschooling.
Now, don’t get me wrong, curriculums have a place and can be very beneficial. I would not be where I am now without the curriculums that I used. Here is an article of the curriculums I used for many years. This curriculum gave me the confidence I needed to create my own curriculum.
I now use the philosophy of The Well Educated Heart. This website is golden and so much love has gone into the creation of this site. It teaches so much on feeding our hearts and the hearts of our children. Check it out! You will not be sorry.
Here is my advice on how to confidently build your own curriculum.
#1 – Have confidence in your ability as a mother to teach your children.
First and foremost, trust yourself that you can do this. I can’t tell you how many of my friends feel they are completely inadequate or uneducated to teach their children. I get it, I used to be that mom (and sometimes still get feelings of complete inadequacy). However, I am confident that you are not only qualified but there is no other teacher that loves your children like you do. You know more about your child than anyone else. Whatever you lack, God will make up the difference.
If you are like me and begin homeschooling, feeling completely uneducated to teach your own kids, it isn’t too late for you to start learning. I learn right along side my boys, and now I can’t get enough! I am hungry and love to learn. If you go through this same process, your kids will catch that fire as well. They will get an education that will match their mission in life. All you have to do is to stay a one step ahead of them.
#2 – Use the classics to teach your children
If I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t have ever thought I would include this in a blog post. I didn’t understand the power that comes from reading classics. When I first started homeschooling, again I was clueless, I relied on curriculum and experts to tell me what to teach my kids (there are sooo many fantastic curriculums out there). I slowly realized that my kids were getting an education of the mind, but their hearts were not being inspired.
By reading the classics, your kids will be exposed to great people and their stories. When a story touches ones heart, miracles happen. You feel something that will change you enough to make you better. They will be inspired, and along the way they will be exposed to great literature. Great literature will make them great readers and writers.
My boys have become better spellers and writers because they see it in their books they are reading. When they ask how to spell a certain word I have them close their eyes and try to imagine the word in their head. The TJED website is a fantastic resource for learning from the classics. I am personally taking a class called Mentoring in the Classics with TJED and it is fantastic.
#3 – Don’t start too early
I learned this the hard way. I have seen both sides of this and to save yourself tears and frustration, just wait until your child is ready. If they don’t want to sit down and work with you then don’t! Let them play. Read lots of stories to them. Discover the world with them and wait for them to come to you. You will be surprised how much they pick up on along the way.
I spent maybe 15 minutes a day with my second youngest and he is my best reader at that age. Some days he didn’t want to do anything, so I let him go play. It is okay! They will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it.
#4 – READ READ AND READ
I can’t tell you how important this is! There is so much research on the importance of reading to your kids. Not only picture books, but fantastic novels that you read and discuss together as a family! Here is a post I wrote about creating a reading culture in your home that will help you get started!
While you are reading to your kids, point out literary terms, punctuation, sentence structure and parts of speech. My 6 year olds favorite word is onomatopoeia. He loves to say it as we discover onomatopoeias throughout books.
#5 – Fall in love with shapes, numbers and mathematicians before starting a math curriculum
I can’t tell you how many times I have been teaching my boys about a mathematician and math concept suddenly makes sense in my head. What was before an equation that I was told not to forget all of a sudden had a story behind it. Recalling the equation is now easy because there is a person behind it.
Learn about Archimedes and Pythagoras . Their stories are fascinating. Play with numbers and shapes and let go of the worksheets with endless amounts of problems on them. Once they fall in love with these, they will learn math concepts so fast!
#6 – Trust the process
This is perhaps the hardest thing to do, especially if you did not have this kind of education. We know that an actual curriculum will at least teach them something. Lots of great people are products of this kind of conveyor belt education system. However, we live in a different time! We don’t need more kids with an education to be a great factory worker or employee. There was a time and a place for that.
As times change and evolve we are needing something different.
We need leaders who understand what leadership means as well as entrepreneurs that create businesses and fix problems around the world. We need a group of kids who gain an education that not only inspires them but builds their foundation with faith in God as the cornerstone.
When you build your own curriculum, you create a learning environment that will help your children really grow as leaders and as individuals. I could go on, but this post would last forever.
Trust the process!
#7 – You not them
Seriously though! This was another one of those things that I couldn’t grasp until I actually did it. When I read, learn and get excited about a certain book or topic I can’t wait to tell my kids. I show them and teach them what I just discovered. They watch me read and watch me become inspired.
I have a son who started reading 3-4 books at a time because he saw me doing it. Your example is powerful! Read and don’t stop learning. If you want your kids to have a leadership education, you need to get a leadership education. If you look at great individuals throughout history, you will see a trend among them.
They are readers!
Now you go and read! Make time for it and make it happen (the Mentoring in the Classics class is a great resource)
#8 – Be constantly curious about the world around you
There is always something to learn. My husband is so good at this and gets my boys curious about the world around them. When we are reading something and we don’t know what it is, we stop and take time to look it up. This one thing will enrich your reading so much!
Make it normal to ask questions and be curious. I remember when I was little, I didn’t want to ask questions because I didn’t want people to know that I didn’t know the answer. Crazy right? Ask lots of questions! You don’t have to know the answer to everything, but you can find out together.
#9 – Create lessons from books you are reading
Say you are reading a book that is about monkeys (we are reading Summer Of The Monkeys right now and LOVE it). Take this time to stop reading and learn more about monkeys. Draw pictures of monkeys using Art Hub. Find cool facts about them a journal them. Print out pictures of different monkeys and glue them in your notebook with all of your findings. My boys LOVE to do this.
There are so many rabbit trails you can go on when you read books. When we read, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind we made homopolar motors and learned many African games that were discussed in the book. The learning opportunities are endless and the book comes alive and is so much fun for you and your kids.
Learning this way has completely transformed what our homeschool looks like. We are excited and inspired by different books and the amazing world around us!
I hope this gives you a good start on how to confidently build your own curriculum.