When you start buying homeschool curriculum, who do you think about first?
Whatever the latest homeschool guru recommends? The program your best friend gushes about?
That’s what we usually do, isn't it?
Instead, try something different. Own it -- own your authority as the expert for your homeschool and children.
Don't buy curriculum based on someone else's opinion.
But there is someone's opinion you need to consider -- YOURS. You need to think about YOU and your homeschool teaching style.
Your Homeschool Teaching Style is Important
While you may think homeschooling is all about your children’s education, it has a lot to do with you as well. Your personality and teaching style are important parts of the equation.
Let’s take a peek in Susie Homeschooler’s window. Her little homeschool room looks just like a classroom -- right down to the whiteboard on the wall. She had so much fun decorating the room and getting ready for the year ahead. She wasn’t confident about choosing her own curriculum, so she selected a “box curriculum.” She begins the homeschool year with excitement but is soon tired of the strict daily “school-like” schedule she designed. She wanted to create an attractive homeschool environment for her kids but finds that her textbook approach isn’t as fun as she would like. Susie tries to push through but dreads her homeschool day.
Susie Homeschooler made a few mistakes in her first year (don’t worry -- we all do!). She chose curriculum based on her confidence (or lack thereof), she tried to replicate a school approach at home, and she neglected the part of her that wanted to create some fun and excitement during her homeschool day.
And I don't think Susie is alone in making these all-too-common mistakes.
One of the big things that Susie ignored was her own personality and teaching style. She wanted something fun and exciting but chose a method that isn’t known for being fun or exciting. All because she lacked the confidence to make a different choice.
You are an important ingredient in your homeschool.
You set the tone for the day. If you don’t look forward to homeschooling, your children will pick up on that attitude. While every day isn’t all sunshine and roses, you need to create an environment that encourages a love of learning -- and it all starts with you.
You are the authority of your homeschool, mama!
Find out how to build the homeschool that fits your family. Click below to learn more about Homeschool DIY — the guide that will help you build a happy homeschool.
Recognizing & Evaluating Your Teaching Style
Your teaching style is closely related to your personality -- and I know there are long and detailed personality tests you can take, but let's bring it down to its simplest form, okay?
Are you an introvert or an extravert?
If you're an introvert you "fill up your tank" by having some time alone. If you're an extravert that idea is probably not at the top of your favorite things to do -- it's all about hanging out with your peeps.
Introverts are generally quieter, more still, and have a more introspective nature.
Extraverts are more outgoing, active, and focused on external stimuli.
Remember, these are just generalizations -- we're keeping it simple today.
Now, consider your nature in light of your teaching style -- introverts may prefer quieter activities and subjects that can be done independently or in group sessions. Extraverts may want lots of hands-on activities, homeschool co-ops, and interactive lesson plans.
And don't forget your own educational strengths and weaknesses.
Here's a quick example -- I’m not confident about teaching math, so choosing a math program that doesn’t include a detailed teacher’s book isn’t a good idea for me. Instead, I prefer a math curriculum that has a script I can follow. On the other hand, I don’t want a teacher-led script when we’re studying history (a subject I love). Instead, I want a quick overview that lets me teach the way I want to.
Take time to consider your personality, strengths and weaknesses - and how they work together to create your personal teaching style.
Consider these examples:
Do you like teacher’s books that have everything detailed for you? Or do you prefer something that just gives you a quick overview and expects you to jump right in? (And remember, this can vary from one subject to the next!)
Do you want to include lots of hands-on, interactive lessons? Or would you rather let the kids color or play with LEGOs while you read aloud?
Do you want to teach your children individually or group them together for most subjects?
Your Kids & their Homeschool Learning Styles Take 2nd Place
Once you’ve evaluated yourself, the things you enjoy, and your strengths and weaknesses -- then it’s time to consider your kids.
Yes, now you have my permission to think about how this will affect them!
Their learning styles and skills still have a place in your planning - but it doesn’t come until after you’ve selected materials YOU can TEACH.
Because here’s the thing, if you choose a program based on your child’s learning style and it has a teacher’s manual you find unusable, what will happen when your child needs more hand-holding? Will you be able to guide him with that crappy teacher’s manual?
Instead, look for a program that has a fabulous teacher’s manual. Then, when your child is struggling, you’ll be able to use your skills to present information in a way that works for them -- because you chose a program that strengthens your natural abilities.
Looking for more information about learning styles? See this article at Savvy Schooling: Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling (step #3 goes into detail about learning styles)
Take this example: Perhaps you’re a textbook-loving mom and you have a wiggly child who would rather play with legos. Choose a math program that includes what you need - a good teacher’s manual - and use that to help you find fun ways to teach math to your Lego-lovin’, wiggly kid.
Related: Homeschool Planning
Finding the Programs that Make You a Fabulous Teacher
How do you know what to look for in a good teacher’s manual?
This will look different for everyone.
One homeschool mom may need a teacher’s manual for math that has a script for her to follow (I’m in that club!) while a math-whiz just needs a basic outline.
Or perhaps you’re a grammar whiz that can incorporate grammar lessons right into your literature. Then you certainly don’t need to choose a grammar-heavy language arts program.
For those areas you have strong skills - a basic teacher’s manual may be all you need. But for those weak areas, take some time to look at samples of the teacher’s manual online before purchasing a particular program. As you're studying those teacher materials, ask yourself -- is it easy for me to follow or does it make me cringe? Keep looking until you find one that supports your teaching abilities.
And BONUS -- when you find what works that yearly curriculum shopping gets so much easier (because you just need to buy the next level).
Use your strengths to enhance your homeschool and for those weaknesses -- find a really good teacher’s manual!
Related: Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
Have you made the mistake of choosing a curriculum based on its popularity? (It's okay if you have -- we've all done it!)
But have I convinced you to put yourself first (and own your authority!) and select materials based on your personality and homeschool teaching style?
Let's discuss... leave a comment below and get this conversation started.