What is a Curriculum and Why Would I Want One Anyway?

What is a Curriculum and Why Would I Want One Anyway?

by Susannah White, 1 Oct 2016

Home Education can take many forms, from super-structured to completely autonomous. For many, however, having a loose personalised curriculum to add focus is a useful tool.

I do not know any home-educators who actually follow the National Curriculum.  Some might have that intention for the first few months of home-edding and then quickly come to the conclusion that 'one size does not fit all' and it's not necessarily the most appropriate or healthy way to approach the education of your child, if you have a choice.

Here in the UK, we are so fortunate to have that choice; the choice to educate our children outside of school, and the choice as to what we deem an appropriate style in which they should be educated.  The problem with these wonderful choices is that many home-educators stay in an extreme state of flux, and that is stressful.

The vast majority of us end up somewhere in the middle ground, using a range of groups, online courses and local libraries to facilitate what is, when you really reflect on it, one of the most important things you will do in your life.  Always planning, always looking for resources and forever doubting if you're doing 'enough' is a fact of life.  The  danger is that feeling present in your child's learning is virtually impossible with all of this stuff going on in your head.  This is where having a family-designed curriculum can take a lot of the strain out of home-education and actually make focusing on the tasks at hand possible and even enjoyable.

Often I see fellow home-educators enquiring about ready-made curricula in online groups; they are so expensive, it's difficult to judge the quality and what suits one family may not suit another.  Taking some time to think, at a deep level, about what your current aims are, can help to bring your energy back to where it's needed most.  

What should a curriculum be?  It should be a working document, a reference point that is shared and valued by the whole family.  It should be visible and accessible.  It should be reviewed regularly but not so often that it becomes an onerous task - maybe once a year.  It should have some kind of built-in feedback loop that shows you how you're doing.  Are you neglecting a particular area?  It can also show the resources that you intend using - planning this out in advance can help you to budget, such a necessity for the vast majority of us.

Building and using a curriculum together should be an exciting and energising project.  How much each person contributes to the process depends on the individual family, with increasing responsibility given to the children as they grow and understand their own needs and aspirations better.  

I'm so lucky to have worked with a large number of home-educators as they embark on their curriculum design and it is always such an interesting process to see what truly lies at the heart of why we do what we do.  Curriculum Design events are held regularly in Sussex.  Please see our events for further details and dates.