Curriculums and tests do not always equal education – even at home   2 comments

I am not a big fan of shopping so I guess it would make sense that after all these years of homeschooling I have never been to a curriculum fair – which just seems like it would be an educational supply store on steroids.  Browsing through a sea of curriculum, where many have smiling kids on the cover to help you imagine that your kids will be beaming just as brightly as they cheerfully complete the work, seems like a good way to get a headache and tired legs.  Plus, these curriculums aren’t cheap and if I buy them, I am going to be stressed out about finishing them.  As a homeschooler I am often asked what curriculum I use and my answer is that we don’t use a full curriculum, but we loosely use a variety of books for the basics like Math and Language arts and of course, the public library comes in handy.

We are what you would call relaxed homeschoolers. In fact, only one time in all these years has one of the kids finished a math or language arts workbook and that was last year when my 7 year old (kid #4) fully finished her language arts book.  I take a no stress view about ‘finishing’ – when the good weather comes in spring, it’s time to move outside to work in the garden and play.  My view of childhood learning is that it does not need to be divided up into segments we like to call grade levels that need to be completed, but a continuing, natural process.  Learning to read and do math is just part of the growing up process for my children and I do not want to get burned out trying to finish curriculums.

 When I first began homeschooling I asked myself if a purchased full curriculum was necessary. Elementary school isn’t that complicated.  Many people in the past learned to read and do math at home or in simple one room school houses without access to expensive curriculum or any curriculum at all.  They simply passed on the basic skills of reading and arithmetic to their children.  The three R’s – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic supplemented with good aloud reading to learn about different people and places, basic science and lots of hands on toys such as legos, Lincoln Logs, puzzles and games, seemed good and we’ve been rolling with that for elementary school ever since.  Feeling like I had to stick to and complete a curriculum based upon what my child ‘should’ know seemed forced and unnecessary.  

School is so ingrained in our lives and we have a hard time imagining childhood without it. Most homeschooling parents went to school and therefore, have recreated school at home.  We are in our comfort zone when we act on what is familiar to us.  I like to think that education does not have to require curriculums, tests or a recreation of school, but that it is process in which we learn about the world and gain life skills. School is something that is done and education is something that is acquired.  Sure – there can be education happening when school is being done, but if we really think about our own education in life, I would guess most of us would say our education was something that was not acquired in school or by ‘doing’ school. 

I like to think that when I made the decision to homeschool that I just did not free our children from years of formal schooling through a system, but from the mindset that school – even in the form of a curriculum done at home – equals education.

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Posted March 12, 2011 by The Nonconformist Mom in education, homeschooling

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2 responses to “Curriculums and tests do not always equal education – even at home

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  1. “School is something that is done and education is something that is acquired.”

    Brava!

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