If you can't tell already, I love discovering and trying out new curriculum. I admit...it may even border on addiction. It has even gotten to the point where I am scared to go into vendor halls at homeschool conventions. That's why I'm so thankful for this opportunity to review so many great products with The Schoolhouse Crew! The products come to me one at a time instead of me seeing a whole roomful! That could be dangerous! This resource today is a great help to sorting out all those choices and introducing me to some new programs that I may not hear of otherwise. Company Information: Joyce Herzog is a Christian educator, author, consultant and speaker with 25 years of experience working with learning disabled people. A very accomplished woman, both Joyce and her husband received honorary doctorates for their writing. She also has had experience serving as a consultant to homeschooling families since the 1980's. Mrs. Herzog's website offers educational products, services and support to parents and homeschool educators in a variety of areas.
Product Reviewed: For this review, I was given the two-volume set, Choosing and Using Curriculum. The first part is a 100+ page paperback book with 28 short chapters on a variety of homeschooling topics pertaining to curriculum choice. Chapters include an introduction to the various curriculum types and educational styles, as well as topics on how to choose math, reading, writing, language arts, geography, history and science resources. There are also resources for infants and for children with special needs, such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Mrs. Herzog's faith clearly comes through as she writes from a biblical worldview.
The second part is a companion e-book with links to all the various curricula (and then some!) mentioned in the text. This 39 page resource book has ten chapters full of information from general homeschooling resources to links to more specific needs, including resources for the blind and deaf, autistic, etc.
Age Range: For parents!
How We Used It: I carved out a few hours over a couple of days to read over the book, notebook and pen (or Evernote!) in hand. The first few chapters explored what curriculum types there were and what I preferred, as well as my homeschooling style. As I continued to read, I took note of the things for Anah in particular. As I am still navigating the Down Syndrome world, I sometimes find myself at a loss to know what curricula would work best for her. I also found a wonderful list of questions and resources for reading comprehension that I had to sticky note for myself to use with my kids as we read together.
What I Liked:
- The book is jam-packed with lots of helpful information. It is a slim book but it is full of ideas and suggestions.
- I appreciated the Christian perspective on homeschooling and education that Mrs. Herzog shares.
- Good questions throughout the text give me a lot to think about.
- I found the suggestions for the various curriculum types and the pros/cons chart very helpful. She offered some suggestions that I'm planning to try out!
- I am given permission to have "gaps" in my education.
- The chapters are short and focused.
- The chapter "Teaching Discernment in Literature" has excellent lists of questions to use to discuss books with your children on a deeper level. I'm always looking for lists like this!
- Suggestions for further reading help to extend and give additional information.
- I appreciate the reminder that my job as an educator is to select curriculum that will best answer the question "How do I help this child learn?"
- The companion e-book truly does have a huge assortment of links. I spent a lot of time just going through her suggestions. I appreciated her notes and thoughts about the various vendors and websites.
What I Didn't Like:
If I had any complaints, it is not about the content, more about the format. What I think would make this resource even better:
- Having a consistent format for each chapter, perhaps something like a box with a summary statement or chart? In books that have a lot of great information, such as this one, it really helps me to put things in context of the whole.
- Instead of sprinkling special needs issues throughout the chapters, it may be more helpful to have focused chapters on the topic. I think it would be easier to find the information instead of reading every chapter to find a nugget or two.
- The odd formatting/spacing in the text made it look less professional.
As I mentioned earlier, I would suggest reading this book with a pen and paper in hand to take notes! I found lots of great tips that I hope to implement into our school in the year to come as I seek to work with a high school senior, middle schooler, kindergartner, and Down syndrome student. Needless to say, my kids are all at different ages and stages so this will definitely help me to evaluate different options that will allow me to do things together while still tailoring specific studies to their individual needs.