Welcome back to Day 2 Of Ruling Your Curriculum. If you missed Day 1 of Rule Your Curriculum with a Plan, Go HERE….
Today, I have a special guest: Debbie Strayer. Today, Debbie is sharing her thoughts about Ruling Your Curriculum, rather Keeping it as Servant, Not Master…and some wonderful advice she received first hand from Dr. Ruth Beechick. I know you will be blessed by this advice…and once you have finished reading and pondering Debbie’s advice, feel free to enter to win her book: Gaining Confidence To Teach.
I will never forget the first conversation Dr. Ruth Beechick and I had about this topic. I had only been homeschooling for a few years and as a former educator, I hadn’t really emerged from my teacher mentality. I was still putting my son through phonics lessons, since they were intended for his grade level, even though he was a good reader. He was bored and frustrated, as was I.
I talked to Dr. Beechick on the phone about my struggle. She suggested I read with him and observe the words he couldn’t pronounce and teach him those phonics concepts.
I was astonished! How radical! Since we were struggling to keep good attitudes about school, I was willing to give it a try.
As I changed my approach, my son’s interest in reading revived. He soon became excited about reading harder words and even longer stories. Once I realized I wasn’t going to down with phonics lessons he didn’t need, his attitude about school changed as well.
Are you reading this, I can hear your thoughts….what about gaps? What if you miss teaching a sound or word structure?
I thought the same thing.
I was even concerned about it hindering his ability to spell. So I went back to Ruth.
Her advice this time was just as profound. Use copywork and dictation to set good models, then look at his misspellings when he writes to see what he doesn’t know and work on those words.
Now I was really walking on the wild side…no phonics and no formal spelling? Where will it all end?
I had always felt that curriculum knew what it was doing and I must obey, but now my relationship with curriculum was finally at a peaceful place. I would pull lessons on the words or sounds he missed, but otherwise we used copywork/dictation from a variety of books and unit studies we were doing. I used the charts in The Three R’s, by Dr. Beechick, to comfort myself that I was covering what was needed. We continued to use curriculum in math, since he was comfortable with that and liked the challenge. In the final analysis, our roles had been reversed. I was no longer asking my curriculum what my child needed to know. I was observing and gathering data myself through the natural process of reading and writing. I had finally assumed my position of expert on my child and put curriculum in its place as my resource and helper.
There were other points in our homeschool journey where curriculum was a wonderful blessing. When I didn’t have time to plan, it was already done for me, but it never held the same sway over me. I could use it, modify it and even set it down. Good thing, because when my daughter came along, she was a completely different type of learner with some learning struggles. Had I not been ready to mold the curriculum to meet her needs, I might have thought the problem was her.
Dr. Beechick’s sagely advice to fit the book to the child, not the child to the book was wise and liberating.
It may be time to take a look at your relationship with curriculum. You may find out that it has been holding you back, not holding your hand.
Please feel the liberty to put curriculum in it’s place
Debbie Strayer is a speaker and Author of The Trail Guide to Learning and other Resources found at GeoMatters!