March 8, 2007

On Demand Curriculum

Last night at dinner Serona and I were discussing some curriculum for next year and reviewing some of the modifications we have made to this years in the middle of the year. Serona made a comment that really resonated with both of us. He said "I am so thankful that we can make on demand curriculum choices."

How true that is and how different from traditional school settings. We got about halfway through the year and realized that Rhiannon's math program was getting too intense for her and was way beyond what she needed to know so we made an adaptation and changed curriculum. We plan to return to the original one sometime next fall most likely but we were able to adapt in the middle of the year to meet her needs.

Ciaran is learning to read and we are even more on demand in this area. While I have a traditional phonics program for him in Phonics Pathways and we have the whole Bob books series we realized that these were just not lighting his passion for reading. What we discovered was two fold. First Ciaran needs to feel confident and second he needs to feel rewarded for his progress in tangible and immediate ways.

So we discovered the Primary Phonics series - which we used briefly with Rhia when she was learning. Well this really connects with him - he likes the 16 page stories and the fact that he can read all the words unassisted and each book works on a single new rule at a time giving him time to work through that and master the skill. So rather than pushing through the Phonics Pathways book with him we are working through the individual reader and teaching the rule he needs to get through the next book. Then he has lots of practice in ways he enjoys on just that one phonics rule and reviewing others he already knows. No more saying "well that word is different because... or well that word is really hard ... or no the rule does not apply to this word" All of those phrases were really frustrating and discouraging to him and his learning style. So we no longer use library Level One readers - as there are always too many exceptions. He is much more confident and enjoys reading more now.

The other important part of this for him is tangible and immediate rewards. His favorite pastime right now is playing Gamecube video games. So for every half hour he reads he gets to play 15 minutes of video games. It is not immediate in the sense that he reads for 30 minutes and then plays for 15 minutes. Rather he knows he can not play until he is done reading for the day and I say it is time to play but his game time is limited by the amount of time he read that day. It also helps keep the constant reminder for him that reading is more important than the video games.

In the age of on demand movies and television why not have on demand curriculum? Google provides this as well as many times an inquisitive little mind asks a question and determines our lesson plans for the day found through Google and the wonderful resources available online and at our local library. Just one more benefit to homeschooling.

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