The Best Homeschool Curriculum

The Best Homeschool Curriculum

What is the best homeschool curriculum? What are we planning on using?

I get asked this so often. The answer?

The curriculum of curiosity.

This curriculum is amazing, let me tell you. The curiosity curriculum is:

  • for every child,
  • every age,
  • every ability,
  • all interests,
  • developmentally appropriate,
  • child-paced,
  • relevant to your child,
  • flexible,
  • challenging,
  • empowering,
  • invaluable,
  • limitless, and
  • free!

What you need to have the best homeschool curriculum:

  1. a child
  2. an interested parent
  3. time
  4. respect for the child
  5. access to the world, nature, and books (a library!)
  6. the internet doesn’t hurt either

That’s it!

Life and learning need not be separated.

A child’s innate curiosity and interest in exploring and categorising the world around them is so strong. A child’s want to be heard and express themselves is built into them.

We just need to listen, to observe, and to guide them. We have to be fascinated with them and explore alongside them. Create an environment that inspires creativity, is literacy rich and invokes discovery.

People (yes, that includes children too!) only really learn, understand and retain knowledge that is meaningful, developmentally suitable and interesting to them. This is particularly true in the long term.

Given the above, kids will naturally acquire the knowledge that is significant and relevant to them through their innate curiosity, with time and guidance.

They don’t need ‘school hours’ or days or terms. Nor do they need things divided into subjects or levels. Just living and learning; everyday, together.

Children don’t need workbooks or tests. They don’t need flash cards or to memorise arbitrary facts. Sure, sometimes these things may be just what a child wants to solidify some knowledge or explore a topic. But it doesn’t have to be the foundation of their learning.

What kids do need is respect, connection and awareness. They need to know:

  • what they think is important,
  • their questions are valid,
  • their interests are respected,
  • how to find information, and
  • that they never have to do something that doesn’t feel right.

We need to protect their love of learning. Protect that curiosity and wonder like the jewel it is.

Curriculum of Curiosity

So… listen to them. Let them play.
Read to and with them everyday.
Show them you are passionate as well.
Joke and laugh up a spell.
Spend time with them in nature.
Watch documentaries together.

Cook dinner with them even though it takes more time.
Let them make mess, it’ll be just fine.
Discuss things that matter, and the things that don’t.
Question things yourself or maybe they won’t.

Challenge them to think critically.
Let them make mistakes and reflect analytically.
Build forts and climb trees.
Star gaze and scrape knees.

- Rachel ‘Racheous’

That’s the best homeschool curriculum.

 

The Curiosity Curriculum

Montessori Kids Books

Map Letter Number Shape Work Books Montessori Racheouscontains affiliate/sponsored links

Children’s books that are inspired by Montessori are hard to come by. This series of books is the best that I’ve seen that encompasses her methods and makes the learning more hands on.

 

Montessori Map work DIY book

The newest in the series, and one I was personally excited about is Map Work (or here with free international post) which explores each continent in a simple way with gently textured shaped continents and basic information to introduce younger children to geography in a Montessori way.

 

Map work Australia Montessori

We enjoy using them with our Montessori map puzzle and both our first atlas and our comprehensive activity atlas. Cameron loved using it to point out information he already knew and ‘teaching’ Lucy.

 

Montessori number sandpaper book

The Number Work book (or here with free international post) has tabbed pages with the numbers 1 to 10. I love that the tabs look like Montessori number rods and the final page shows them all lined up to reinforce that.

 

Montessori numbers sandpaper book

The numbers are slightly textured so can be traced like sandpaper numbers. Our sandpaper numbers are from on Etsy, here.

 

Montessori letters sandpaper book

I really like that the book Letter Work (or here with free international post) is not presented in alphabetical order. The letters are again raised and introduced phonetically. Our sandpaper letters are from here on Etsy.

 

Montessori shapes math sandpaper book

My favourite is the Shape Work book (or here with free international post). I love that the shapes are grouped as triangles, rounds, parallelograms, and polygons. This introduced new terminology to Cameron.

The shapes are first introduced as slightly inset into the book, which adds a new element to touch. Then each is shown with a real life examples with realistic looking drawings. We used them with a puzzle and our favourite shape stencils.

Each of these books ties in nicely with Montessori materials and learning. I really love the clear, simple layout and the board books make them perfect for toddlers and young children.

You can read more about Bobby and June George, the creators of these books as well as many more Montessori projects in my post A Different Approach to Montessori.

 

Montessori appropriate kids books | Racheous - Lovable Learning

 

What to look for in ‘Montessori appropriate’ kids books:

  1. Realistic, beautiful images (photographs where applicable)
  2. Clear language
  3. Factual
  4. Reality based (Maria Montessori believed fairy tales were better suited to older children)
  5. Respects children (use language that acknowledges the child’s ability to learn and their curiosity)

Montessori Kids Books  Racheous - Lovable Learning

Would you be interested in me sharing more Montessori kids books?

A Recipe for Learning

Unschooling Life Without School Real Families series

Today I’m joined by my lovely friend and fellow homie (home education co-op friend) Jessica from Memoirs of a Childhood as part of a mini series ‘Life Without School | Real Families’. I hope this inspires you!

 

I am so excited to be here sharing with you all today! I’m a mum to two brilliant girls who are five and two. My five year old is a motivated, tenacious learner who would be in her first year of full time schooling this year. But isn’t. Instead she is continuing along in the same way she has since birth. But when people are introduced to our life through our five year old, they look at me a bit like I’ve just fast forwarded through a cooking show to the “here’s one I prepared earlier” part.

Flower

Although I am there to support her, she spends her days pursuing interesting things and demonstrating her knowledge creatively with a lot of independence, she’s living and learning in a way people can see and can possibly even imagine for their own children as they get older too but can’t quite figure out how we got here. What came before?

And I was going to talk to you about how our life looks for our two year old when I realised, it doesn’t actually look all that different at all.

Pyramid Painting

And the way that I support them is more differentiated by personality than age. The focus needs to be flipped in the opposite direction. You see, my children were born ready for this lifestyle, it is me who has had to catch up!

Understanding what a life looks like without school comes largely through introspection and reflection and unpacking all of the assumptions one has absorbed into their world view without much further consideration. The biggest being that the most valuable learning happens inside of a specific place at a specific time under specific guidance from specific people. But does it?

Even if a child does go to school they are learning things from their parents influence, from that of their community beyond the school gates, from their interactions with the world and everything within it, from reading, from watching, from doing, from creating, from their own bodies and minds! And certainly much is learned before one begins school and afterwards too. Your life is a product of all this learning and learning is a product of your life.

But what of that which is learned through schooling? That’s obviously helped you in many ways during your life, I’m told I use algebra everyday as an example. And yet, my brain doesn’t seem to understand this – it doesn’t file these experiences under algebra, it doesn’t relate whatever algebra I might be doing to what happened with algebra at school, it relates it to all the times I have used it before. And it stays current and accessible because of this use.

I can’t remember when I first used algebra but from watching my children, I’m going to guess it was long before it ever came onto my radar packaged in the way school presented it. You see I’ve seen my five year old use basic algebra to figure something out. Not because she was asked to, not because she was forced to, not because she’s some rare genius but because her want dictated a need to. And she had the time and freedom to follow it.

Dinosaur Maths

In the future, she might have a need to learn more formalised algebra say to pursue a certain career but I trust that that need will motivate her to do so willingly and having the knowledge of ways she has already been using similar processes gives such a meaningful place to work from. It allows her brain the space to make natural connections between all the things she is learning, it isn’t filed arbitrarily under disconnected subjects dictated by another and that make it much simpler to continue to thread things into this personal web and much easier to access this learning as required in the future.

Our life might be a turning away from school and some might take that to be a turning away from learning. But it is the opposite, it is an embracing of learning, in all its forms, from all its sources. Learning is not a recipe but a buffet of rich and fascinating options. Your child can already see it, they are already experiencing it with all of their senses – let them first show you the way, then dedicate your time with them to continually topping it up with new and exciting dishes to taste of. And you will find yourself joining them with curiosity and joy.

Photo of Beach

A Recipe for Learning  Life Without School series Racheous - Lovable Learning

Surprise Marbled Playdough

Despite being partial to uncoloured homemade playdough for exploration, I love making ‘surprise’ marbled playdough with my littlies. I have seen the surprise colour aspect on Teach Preschool and the marbled aspect on Mummy Musings and Mayhem.

Surprise Marbled Playdough DIY  Racheous - Lovable Learning

Our favourite no-cook playdough recipe is an adapted version of several I’ve found over time. I use:

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups of water (boiling!)
  • Food colouring (more on that below)

Method:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add oil and boiling water.
  3. Mix fast until the dough has come together.
  4. Roll out onto a board and knead to smooth consistency.
  5. Divide into 6 roughly equal balls of dough (or 12 if like me you have two children impatiently watching).
  6. Press a thumb into the middle of the ball to form a well.
  7. Only put a small amount of colouring for each ball (2-3 drops).
  8. Pinch the colour into the centre and reform the ball.

 

Homemade Playdough Surprise Marbled Dough Balls

Note: If, like me, you just have the standard primary colours: add two drops of each primary colour to the dough balls that are going to only be primary colours.  For the secondary colours, add one drop of each primary colour and one extra drop of red or yellow for the purple and green.

Tell your little one’s that if they roll and poke and push the dough, there is a surprise and watch the magic unfold!

Surprise Playdough DIY Marbled Dough Fun

Without knowing they are practicing fine motor skills while they poke and pinch and roll the dough. Cameron liked guessing once he caught on. Lucy was keen to find the pink!

Surprise Marbled Playdough DIY

It makes such a pretty marbled effect. Cameron kept mixing and creating a more uniform colour, whereas Lucy went and got googly eyes and made marbled monsters.

Have you done this with your little one? It’s so fun!

The Freedom of Life Without School

Unschooling Life Without School  Real Families series

Today I’m joined by my lovely friend and fellow homie (home education co-op friend) Sara from Happiness is here as part of a mini series ‘Life Without School | Real Families’. Enjoy!

 

When Rachel asked me if I would like to write a guest post about our family and homeschooling, I had no idea what I would write about. I could write about why we choose to educate our children this way, how we do it, common misconceptions about homeschooling, or maybe a specific activity we have done. I finally decided that when I think about our lifestyle, my favorite part of it is the freedom I feel, and so that seemed like a great way to introduce us.

 

freedom unschooling

We are a family of 5, with 3 daughters, from Australia. We have chosen to home educate and take a natural learning/unschooling/life learning (whatever you want to call it!) approach. Our eldest daughter is 5 now so this would have been her first year of school if we had chosen that path. Technically I guess that means we have been homeschooling for 6 months now. However, we don’t pay any attention to grades, terms, holidays, age, etc. We have been living and learning together since she was born and nothing has changed at all since she turned 5!
There are many many reasons we have chosen to home educate, but one of the main ones is the lifestyle we can provide for our children. When people think of homeschooling, they might see it as more of a burden than freedom. Being with your kids 24/7 without having the break of school 5 days a week? That sounds tough! But when you really think about what that means, it seems to me it is so much easier than sending them to school would be. School for us would mean scheduling our life around 9am drop-off and 3pm pick up for at least the next 17 years!!

 

Every week day I would need to squash in what I needed to do between the hours of 9 and 3. No more relaxed mornings, letting everyone wake up when they are ready, snuggling in bed when it’s cold, eating breakfast whenever they get hungry. No more holidays during school terms, enjoying the beaches, parks, museums, libraries, and art galleries when they aren’t overcrowded. No more visiting friends and family whenever we want. Instead all I can imagine is rushing and stress, and never having enough time. The thought of having to be up early packing lunches, getting everyone dressed, fed, teeth brushed, and out the door by a certain time in the morning does not appeal to me at all. Having our afternoons become a juggling act of homework, dinner, stories, and the bedtime routine is not what I want. I am amazed that people can do all this!
Giving up our relaxed lifestyle to a schedule, and giving up the majority of the time I have with my children in a week is not a sacrifice I am willing to make. Instead, our life looks just like any other family’s life on the weekend or during holidays. That care free feeling you get when you’re on holiday and there’s nothing to worry about…that’s what our life feels like.

 

freedom natural learning n

We are free to wake up whenever we please. We get to decide how we spend our day, or change our mind at a moment’s notice. We have endless time to spend together and with friends and family, developing strong relationships. My children are free to learn about whatever interests them, however they learn best, whenever they are ready. There is no tests, pressure, or schedules. We can travel whenever we like, for as long as we like, or move to a different state or country without worrying about how it will affect their schooling. My children can spend their childhood learning through play and spending hours outside every day. We can have the unrushed lifestyle that my children thrive in, with time to explore and marvel at the world as children do. We have the freedom to really make our life exactly how we want it. Being able to have all this and also give our children a fantastic education perfectly suited to them at the same time is so freeing.
This life is the greatest adventure. It is not for everybody, but it is for us, and we love it.

 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

 

Freedom | Life Without School | Real Families Series