Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Should home educators use school books?

Early in our home education journey, I was given some school textbooks. I started to use these but soon realised that plenary sessions weren't really going to work with an eight year old, two year old and three month old baby. Over the years, it has become obvious that certain school materials are difficult to use as a home educator. Signs which make a curriculum difficult for a home educator are
  • plenary sessions.
  • assuming large groups of children. 
  • materials that can only be bought in large quantities
  • materials that are very expensive. This seems to apply to worksheets for photocopying and to interactive whiteboard resources.
  • using materials that are going to be difficult to obtain out of school.
Some other materials can work well for home educators. Positive signs are
  • some mention of home educators on the website/reverse of books.
  • books that can be bought in ones.
Is it ever worth using school curriculum? After all, now specific home education materials are available for most subjects and there is no requirement for home educators to use the National Curriculum. 
UK state school materials follow the National Curriculum. For home educators, this can be a positive or negative. 

  • easier to take exams in the future particularly in the case of a subject like maths.
  • it may take a future transition to school easier.
  • some of the materials seem tedious. I have not been able to find a UK primary science curriculum that is particularly interesting although I would welcome suggestions.
  • National Curriculum materials tend to be written from a secular humanist perspective. This may be valuable if teaching the children to appreciate the worldview of materials but often will not give an adequate explanation of a Christian worldview.
  • the concept of living books tends not to appear.
  • materials often aren't particularly hands on. My daughter's recent maths sheet asked her to draw containers which could hold more or less than a litre. At home, it is easy to find containers and pour water in them to check how much they can hold.
UK materials that we have found easy to use are
  • Schofield and Sims for mental maths, handwriting and spelling. Our world map also comes from this source. Their books tend to be cheap and cheerful!
  • Galore Park primarily supply the private school market. We have used their maths and English textbooks although we found the geography worked less well.
  • Cambridge Latin which has a helpful website with extra resources. We only used the first couple of books.
  • 2Simple for French and typing.
What do you think? Are you a home educator? Do you use school books at all?

This post is linked to The Home Education Weekly link-up.

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  1. I know of many home edders who use Galore Park and are happy with it. I haven't used it personally. I've seen a few Schofield and Sims books in the bookstores and like its cheap and cheerful workbook format.

  2. We started using the Galore Park for maths and English, just for 30 mins of each every morning. The children love them because we haven't used text books for years, so they think it's a bit of a treat. The English one in particular I've found helpful, as it gives the children an idea of the type of questions they might be asked in an exam. The maths one has been helpful to T to show him where he is up to in English maths rather than basing on the American Saxon maths.
    I'm looking forward to you reviewing your son's computer maths program. We looked into it and have joined as free members, but are unsure whether to continue.

  3. We use Galore Park as well although more as a basis for further study. They are good as guidance for us. We tend to use Khan academy for further maths practice. I will also be interested to read your maths review.

    I have started a #homeedlinkup which is going quite well considering it only started on Thursday. I wonder if you fancy linking this post up as I think it will be of interest to a number of other home educators.

    Thanks so much,

    1. Thank you for commenting. We've used Khan maths on and off too but mainly for the explanations. It can be really useful to hear someone else explain a maths concept.

      I've just linked up to Home Education Weekly. I'm looking forward to reading the other posts.

  4. No we don't use school books. We are largely autonomous and find that individually chosen resources work much better.
    My eldest enjoys Khan Academy and Duo Lingo, plus Youtube (especially for Horrible Histories) . She has definite ideas about what she wants to find out about - and frankly they are so individual that a textbook or curriculum isn't going to cover what we want. We need to use carefully chosen books, including fiction to be able to find what she needs. Plus lots of websites.

    1. That is the real advantage of home education-the individualisation. I love to see the children interested in a subject and wanting to find out more. We've had a history splurge recently for that reason.