Is it time to create your own learning opportunities?
Following a boxed curriculum can be convenient, but it can also leave gaps in your child’s learning. Whether you are in need of tutoring, supplementing a ready-made curriculum, or considering building your own curriculum as a homeschooler, I am telling you it can be done.
The best place to start is usually at the beginning, so I’ll tell you a little secret about how curriculum is actually built at those curriculum companies. It’s all based on standards. As you learn, go slowly. It will take a lot of time, but we are always here to help and you can certainly build based on what you already have to help fill in the gaps.
Curriculum includes many factors, but the underlying foundation is a strong set of standards. Think of standards as what you want to learn. When you read a book, you begin thinking of your perception of the book. Rarely does it remain the same. Instead, it morphs into a new story with unfamiliar ideas that you learn along the way. The author of the book understands his standards or his focus for the book. Although you enjoy the characters or plot along the way, drawing on your own background knowledge, it’s the author’s focus that ties everything together.
When you develop a curriculum, you start by identifying your standards. Remember that choosing a standard just means you find the instruction valuable. In what way and to what degree it’s valuable is up to you. Yes, you decide the approach and the vocabulary while teaching the standard. A standard for a second grader might be: CCSS ELA- Literacy.RF.2.4c
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding; rereading as necessary (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012).
What does it mean? Using context mean to use the words around it to recognize the meaning. Does it have to be written? No. Find an appropriate second grade vocabulary word based on importance, relevance, and developmental level and you are set.
How about the word BELONGINGS? So, now you ask her to clean up her belongings before bedtime. Don’t say “toys” or “clothing”. When she seems to not understand, repeat it. Encourage her to look around and repeat that she needs to clean up her BELONGINGS. You’re guiding her towards thinking for herself. When she follows the directions, thank her for cleaning up her BELONGINGS again.
Use the word often as can in informal speech and add it to her writing or reading. You can expand vocabulary and meet a literacy standard once you decide how you will introduce the word in context and check for understanding. Will you be finished then? Not by a longshot since this is an evolving standard that applies to all subjects ad infinitum. This standard should carry throughout all levels of learning in all subjects, so use it early and build it into every subject as often as possible since expanding vocabulary expands knowledge and understanding (Marzano, 2004).
Once you have a standard in focus, you can build instruction around it. The internet has made life exceptionally easy in finding resources for learning. Beware though, as not all learning resources are worthwhile if they are not engaging and in focus. Search for “vocabulary” and you’ll be greeted with vocabulary games, vocabulary activities, vocabulary workshop, and more.
Weeding through these takes a lot of time and you’ll need to refine your search as your child learns and expands his knowledge. So, in whatever area your child needs the extra support, you’ll be able to build in more learning opportunities by focusing on the standards ensuring that learning happens in a personalized way for your child.
Common Core State Standards Initiative (2012) retrieved on October 8, 2013 from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RF/2
Marzano, R.J. (2004) Building background knowledge for academic achievement: Research on what works in schools Alexandria, VA.:ASCD