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Jul 2011

Curriculum for Homeschool

Homeschool Curriculum – Why Spend Money Unnecessarily?

For many homeschoolers this article will hopefully clarify a number of myths about what Curriculum is, and at the same time will hopefully save many more of you a lot of money in the future!

The word ‘Curriculum’ is one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the world of homeschooling – and for a large number of homeschoolers it takes on an almost mythical status. And so often when I hear people discussing Homeschool Curriculum or Curriculum for Homeschooling, I find that I often have to restrain myself from saying anything. Why? Well let’s look first at what it actually means, and then secondly, the reasons why you are homeschooling.

Search online and you will quickly find that the definition of the word Curriculum when used in reference to education is ‘The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.’ Two further definitions indicate that it means ‘All the courses of study offered by an educational institution’ or ‘A group of related courses, often in a special field of study’. So what many homeschool suppliers are selling labeled as being Curriculum, really isn’t Curriculum at all.

But let’s put that aside for a minute so we can ask this question. Isn’t one of the reasons why many of us are homeschooling because we have lost faith in what our schools and the education system has to offer, believing we can do better ourselves? So why spend money buying a list of subjects that the same education system in which we have lost faith, thinks we ought to be teaching our children?

Consider for a moment that a State or Provincial Curriculum is written and put together by a group of people that don’t know even your child, that don’t know your child’s natural skills and abilities, and certainly have no idea of the areas in which your child excels. So here we are homeschooling our children because we know them better than anyone else, and the next moment we are spending money on buying lists of topics put together by other people that dictates what we should or should not teach our children. Doesn’t this rather defeat what homeschooling is all about?

Never-the-less most homeschoolers buy what is described as being Curriculum for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Because other than reading, writing and math, many homeschool families are unsure what topics they should be teaching their child.
  • Because even if they do know the topics they want their child to learn, they are unsure just how to go about teaching that topic themselves.
  • Because they are not sure of which facts need to be included in the teaching of that topic.
  • And because they are unsure how to go about thoroughly exploring the topic with their child.

As a result they end up spending more money buying products that they really do not need.

So lets see if we can suggest a simple, easy, straight forward 4-step process that improves the effectiveness of your homeschool efforts, that can make your life simple, easier and therefore more enjoyable, and at the same time potentially reduce your total homeschool cost for your family down to around $200 per year, irrespective of however many children you have.

So here are the 4-steps, and we’ll walk you through it using the services provided by Zane Education so that you can see just how straightforward it can be.

  1. Deciding on the topic you want your child to learn.
  2. Finding the means of delivering the facts to your child without you needing to be a teacher or a walking textbook.
  3. Deciding on the best way to explore and teach the topic thoroughly.
  4. Identifying the best way to find out how much information your child remembers, without testing them just for the sake of it.

Step 1: Deciding on the topic

Deciding on the topic you want your child to study is pretty straightforward. It’s either going to be a topic required under your State or Provincial Curriculum, or one that you want your child to learn. For homeschool families in the United States or Canada, you can choose one of the two following links to identify what your State or Provincial Curriculum requirements are. And please note that this is a free service.

The first link is to a This Page where you simply select the relevant State or Province of interest to you. When you get to the next page don’t panic – sometimes the terminology used can have you reaching for a dictionary. But just read and experiment with the optional links provided, if it is not immediately obvious to you.

The second link takes you to This Page where you use the pull-down menu to select your State or Province. On the next page you will generally find 3 charts under which there are links that will take you to the information you need. What you are looking for is the Curriculum Standards that will inform you what particular topics within a subject should be covered, and the Performance Standards that will inform about the details of and aspects of the various topics that should be introduced to your child. Those links will usually take you to the relevant State Education website where you will actually be provided with the information that you are after. When you do this the first time it may look a little daunting, but persist because after the first couple of times you do this, it is very straightforward.

Step 2: Delivering the information to your child

Unless you are a teacher trained in the particular subject or a walking textbook, you now need a way to deliver the information to your child. And often this is the part that frightens off most prospective homeschool parents. But the solution could not really be simpler. Go to Zane Education and you will find that they provide online educational video covering a comprehensive range of subjects. Most homeschool parents quickly discover that textbooks are expensive and do little to engage your child. Visual Learning using online video on the other hand, helps to make learning much more fun and considerably more interesting. And more than anything else, video not only attracts your child’s attention, it maintains their interest over a much longer period of time.

Video is also the perfect solution for children with Dyslexia and a wide range of other Special needs. In fact Zane’s online educational video service offers much more than what might initially be apparent at first glance. Whilst they are currently the only online educational videos available online that have been specifically developed to teach 260 curriculum-based topics – each video is also subtitled. And this is the big bonus. By using subtitled educational videos each child is provided with the choice of watching, listening to, or reading each presentation thereby catering for a wide range of learning styles and abilities.

So for those of you concerned that your child’s reading will suffer through using video as a learning tool, you have no need for concern. Zane Education’s video have been deliberately subtitled to enable each child to study each topic, and improve their reading and literacy skills at the same time.

Finally, for those homeschool parents that think they are abdicating an involvement in their child’s education by using online video, there is absolutely no need for concern. Just wait and see what’s involved next in Step 3.

Step 3: Exploring each topic thoroughly and effectively

Now this is where many homeschoolers will spend yet more money on Lesson Plans. Others spend hours attempting to write their own. But now there is no need to do either. Zane Education provides you with free Lesson Plan guides for each topic. And each Lesson Plan Guide provides you with:

  • Details of the Learning Objectives for that topic.
  • Some initial review questions.
  • Key Glossary Terms (words from that the video for your child to learn about)
  • Points for discussion.
  • Facts to debate
  • A research assignment
  • An activity relevant to the topic
  • And an essay assignment.

So for those of you that thought we are suggesting that a video is about to replace you and your input – that is not the case at all!

However the potential benefits to you as the homeschool parent, by combining the use the videos and the Lesson Plan Guide together include:

  • You save an awful lot of preparation work.
  • You reduce the potential stress levels caused by all that additional and unnecessary work
  • The time you work with your child will become significantly more effective
  • And of course Zane has just saved you yet more money by providing the Lesson Plan Guides at no extra cost.

Step 4: Testing to see what your child remembers

Right… here is more good news. Say goodbye to spending yet more money on test papers or quizzes, or even attempting to write your own test questions, because once again Zane Education comes to the rescue.

Zane Education provides online interactive quizzes for every one of the topics taught. And the most beneficial feature of those quizzes is that each correct or incorrect answer provided by your child is qualified, and details are provided explaining why it was right or wrong. This additional information ensures that the learning process continues while your child is doing the quiz.

Zane Education provides the use of these quizzes free or charge, and in fact the use of these quizzes is available to anyone whether they are a video subscriber or not. A non-subscriber simply needs to complete a free Basic Membership registration to access all 260 quizzes.

So in finalizing this article, I hope that we have been able to dispel the misunderstanding about what Curriculum actually is, and at the same demonstrated how you can significantly reduce your homeschooling costs.

Zane Education provides a very valuable online service for the homeschool community. They have only been able to do that because many of their staff are homeschool families themselves and they understand what homeschool families need to benefit their children the most. Their service also reflects their understanding of how important cost and affordability is.

With a 12 month Gold Membership that can be used by the entire family costing under $200 for a year, and the ability to subscribe on a month to month basis, it should help many thousands of homeschool families significantly reduce the amount they spend each year on the homeschooling of their family.

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