ach 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 amgetting 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 entic-
ing 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 andhidingwhen 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 chil-
dren’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 (smoothingtheway.com). 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 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
gardening, physical fitness activities, and
by Holly Williams Urbach