Friday, June 29, 2012

Creating a Homeschool Curriculum from Scratch, Part 1

My first step in creating our kindergarten year for Jetta will be to begin to formulate a plan and work on the curriculum.  Curriculum simply refers to what skills, topics, and themes are covered in your year, whether that be the alphabet and numbers 1-20 or Shakespeare.  There are layers to curricula that can be delved into more deeply,  and you can read about those here.  For my purposes, I'm starting with, basically, a list of what I want to cover.  How I cover it will be addressed after this list is formulated.  And depending on what kind of homeschooling  you are doing, you may not even want a list.  Part of my inner experience is a need for knowing where I'm going, so even if I don't pull this list out and check it off as we go (I probably won't) it will give me a sense of direction and a sense of being on track.

Since I am in the state of Texas, I will start with TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  This is an annoyingly long and wordy listing of essential skills and knowledge that the public school teachers in Texas have to address in each grade level.  When I taught seventh grade, it was like Greek to me.  My training had been way back in the day and had dealt with Essential Elements.  Yes, I understand the language and intent, but looking at it feels redundant and overwhelming all at the same time.  Nonetheless, it's what I will measure against for whether we have covered what needs to be covered according to the public school, and will give me an opportunity to disagree with the state of Texas and discard what I don't feel is appropriate.  If you're in Texas, or just feeling like checking it out, you can see the TEKS for kindergarten and all other grades here.  While these are very detailed, it is the details that might encourage a more thoughtful teaching experience for me and learning experience for the girls.  And the cool thing about it is that it gives me the golden key to what would be taught in a public school classroom.  It takes away the mystery and opens the door for me to choose to give Jetta a "public school education" at home.  But who says I'm choosing that?



My next stop will be Oak Meadow.  Oak Meadow is the most popular Waldorf-based home education curriculum available, is relatively inexpensive (though it is in the hundreds of dollars) and keeps things pretty simple.  If I were inclined to indulge in buying curriculum, this would be the one I purchased.  Since that's not what we're doing, I still go this page and refer to their kindergarten overview.  This prints out nicely and will be "the other end of the specturm" for me, the contrast to the TEKS that grounds my process.  Oak Meadow is not traditional Waldorf education in that they do introduce letters and reading a little earlier, but they are still much more relaxed (for good reason, to be discussed in a later post) about introducing reading so early.



In the process of searching for curricula and checklists, I also found these great options.  Here is one public school that has created their own checklist for parents.  It's longer than some, but detailed enough to give a full sense of what needs to be covered.  I also found this checklist at really groovy blog called Glitterful Felt Stories.  And finally, here is this worksheet for checking minimum skills at the end of your kindergarten year.  It's particularly abrupt and not my preference, but convenient and very "printable."

Other methods for knowing what to cover is to simply stop by any book store or big box department store and check out their workbooks.  This might not give you a checklist, but for very inexpensively you can have a worksheet for the necessary skills and something that could stand alone as your entire curriculum if you needed it to.  My preference is to have more hands-on activities that create a passion for what is being learned and for pleasure in the process.

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