- Organization of Material
- Ease of Use
- Leads Child Into Thinking
- Uses the Power of Story
Organization of Material
When cognitive scientists studied teachers to find out what makes a good teacher great, they found only two things were needed. Connection with the students, and organization of material. If a teacher did those two things they had amazing success with their students, not just in terms of likeability but in how much the children in their classrooms learned.
We live in a world where information is free. It is at our fingertips. But it does not come organized for free. A curriculum should save mom the time of organizing lessons. It should be organized in a manner that is logical and consistent and invokes curiosity in the student.
Ease of Use
Many homeschool curriculum choices are either written for schools or were written for schools before a slightly different ‘homeschool’ version was put on the market.
The problem this often creates in our homes is the expectation that mom can teach every subject every day, at a different level, to every child. Now more programs are available that are written specifically for homeschoolers and they do consider that our time is limited and we may want to teach our children some subjects together, even if they are in different grades. More resources are out there where the curriculum itself teaches directly to the child. They can read the lesson or watch the video, do the assignment and be on their way.
A program that is easy for mom to use gets bonus points.
A program that is easy for kids to follow on their own gets bonus points.
Do I need to explain this? If it is not beautiful then no one is going to want to do it. Beauty calls us to itself, creates curiosity and motivation, and inspires our hearts towards gratitude. Beauty can make hard work seem like child’s play.
Kids remember more of what they learn when they are having fun. We demand fun and laughter from the curriculum because it makes learning more efficient. Neuroscience has proven this. It’s time we ask curriculum resources to teach the way kids learn best.
Leads Child Into Thinking
Well, honestly, thinking is hard and humans tend to avoid it. The points above help motivate and offset the difficulty that thinking requires.
A program that piques the child’s curiosity will lead them into thinking. Questions are a key ingredient in invoking curiosity and leading kids into thought, but they need to be interesting questions.
Not because we all learn differently, our brains all work on the same basic principles. Studies have never found been able to back up the theory of learning styles. (Students who tested as visual did not remember information presented visually better than information that was presented auditorily. One summary study can be found here.)
Engaging the senses helps all students learn more effectively because you are keeping them relaxed and creating more neural connections. Those are both essential for higher learning to take place.
Any addition or encouragement of getting up out of the chair and moving around is good for all children. Physical movement lights up the brain and sends more oxygen up. Don’t save it for just the wiggly kids, they all benefit immensely from kinesthetic activities. It makes their brain grow.
Uses the Power of Story
This is another area where cognitive scientists have done a lot of research. And what they found is that our brain treats stories in a preferential way. We understand things more easily and remember them better when they are presented in a story.
If your curriculum is not full of stories, your child is missing out. Any information can be turned into a story and a good story can teach many things while also bringing beauty and laughter to the table.