Each year I eagerly look forward to the used curriculum sale. I prepare my list well ahead of time, making sure I detail the retail prices of the curricula next to the items listed so I know whether or not I am getting a good deal. My limited budget goes the furthest at this yearly sale. I happily load my purchases into the car and take them home to show my students what they will be studying in the coming school year. My books look so enticing on the shelves as they wait for school to begin. Every time I see them, I breathe a sigh of relief that I have the curricula I need for the coming school year.
Imagine my distress after school began one year and I realized that items I had purchased were not working well for some of my students! My six-year-old began crying and hiding when it was time for his reading lessons. My twelve-year-old daughter was no longer enthralled with the curriculum that had served us well for the past five years. Not wanting my students to hate school, I prayed for guidance and sought input from some seasoned home schooling friends. A very wise friend helped me to assess my children’s learning styles and suggested some other curriculum that would be a better fit for them. The learning styles of these two children were not compatible with the repetitive nature of the materials I had purchased.
It seems that I had a Wiggly Willy and Wiggly Wilma/Sociable Sue on my hands. If you are unfamiliar with learning styles, I suggest you take some time to look over learning styles information at the Smoothing the Way website. Basically, Wigglies need a lot of activity to be able to learn and they are not too happy doing drill work. They thrive on variety, which was not a hallmark of the curriculum I had purchased.
Wanting my children to enjoy school, I decided to make some immediate changes while I looked for more suitable resources. I used the current materials as the spine for our schoolwork but created different activities to teach the concepts. I drew big footprints on scrap paper and wrote the phonics blends on them, taped them on the floor, and allowed my son to jump from one to another as he sounded out the blends. He found this method more engaging than reading the blends to me from our Blue-backed Speller. I helped him find pictures of items that began with the letter sounds I wanted him to practice, and we made little books together, which allowed him to practice his scissor skills along with phonics.
I obtained some online sample pages of a unit study curriculum to see if it would be a good fit for my daughter. She very much enjoyed creating an illustrated science notebook rather than writing the science terms and definitions. I actually had to tell her to stop working on it in order to get other schoolwork completed. My daughter and I were both delighted when a friend had several of these unit studies to lend me for the remainder of the school year.
For my son I began looking for a new phonics program that was multi-sensory and had a lot of variety. Sing, Spell, Read, and Write really spoke to his needs. I found an old cassette tape edition at a winter used curriculum sale for $10! All I had to do was order new workbooks, and we were in business. God had provided just what my children needed for the limited funds that I had available. Both children went from being reluctant to do their assignments to students who were highly interested in their work. It was not unusual for me to find my son awake early, working on his phonics pages before breakfast instead of trying to hide when it was time for school. I was one thrilled home educator!
If you are a home school parent struggling with curriculum that is a poor fit for one or more of your precious students, I encourage you to exercise your prerogative to change your mind and look for something better suited to the learning styles of your students. Seek the Lord for His wisdom and guidance; then anticipate with excitement His answer!
Holly Williams Urbach – has written 9 posts on this site.
Holly Williams Urbach has home schooled her children since 1993. She has been married to her husband Joe since 1985 and is also a mother of five and grandmother of two. Holly currently works as an on-site director for a home school academy. In her spare time Holly enjoys writing (her blog is at thewhollyholly.blogspot.com), gardening, physical fitness activities, and interior decorating.