2/20/09

The Perfect Program

As homeschoolers we are always on the lookout for that perfect math program or that miracle spelling program or that ONE phonics program that will be SURE to teach our child to read fluently nearly instantaneously.

We also gravitate towards a tendency, if we’ve found that perfect program, to push that program to everyone we know. We overhear a homeschooling mom say that junior is struggling with math and we’re quick to recommend the math program we’ve recently found that has really helped our tator tots to learn their facts.

What we fail to see is that each program has its strengths and yet it also has its weaknesses. Just like our children. It doesn’t matter how many (or how few) children we have. Each one is a unique and special individual created by God, in His image and for His glory. They are not clones of each other, nor are they clones of us. So if each of our blessings are different why do we assume that curriculum is a one size fits all affair?

Lately, I’ve been really pondering how different programs target different strengths and yet have different weaknesses. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Lord is showing me how different my girls are from each other, I think I’d still be caught up in the “math wars” (you know the Saxon versus MUS versus Teaching Textbooks. )

It’s like we think we have to use the same program for each child in our family and if the program doesn’t work with a child it must be the fault of the program. Maybe not though. Maybe it isn’t a fault of the program *OR* a fault of the child but rather merely a difference in how the strengths of one meshes with the weaknesses of the other.

I’m learning that a phonics program or a math book maybe a *great* program and still be a wrong choice for that student. I *love* Math U See. I think it is a solid math program. I would almost be willing to swear that Mr. Demme created MUS for BooBear. It really is the *perfect* program for her, But Rosenburg, on the other hand, does not mesh so well with this program. It just doesn’t fit her learning style. If Rosenburg were my oldest, it’s entirely possible that I would have dismissed MUS as a “not very good math program”. Does Rosenburg not doing well with the program make it a “bad” program. No, no more than BooBear having success with the program would make it a “great” or “perfect” program.

It’s very frustrating to hear moms promote a program based solely on the success of one or two children. Oh I don’t mean that they shouldn’t ever recommend the program but I’d rather hear: “This program worked very well for my daughter. Your daughter sounds like my daughter so I think it might work well for you.” I’m growing weary of hearing :”This is THE BEST program ever. You should use this program because I am convinced that it is the best and it will work for every child under the sun”. Ok so that is a bit of an exaggeration. My point though is that just because a program works with ONE child and works really WELL with that one child, does not mean that it will work with EVERY child.

I’m sure I’m guilty of having pushed MUS. I’m having to eat my words now so to speak. I think it’s a great program and I do still recommend it. I just am learning to be more discerning. I’m not willing to say that it’s better than every other program on the market. I am willing to say that it’s the best choice for those students who have a mastery based learning style. Some children really do do better with a different approach.

It sure would make my teaching easier if I could use the same exact math and spelling with all four girls.But then again, I think I really prefer being able to see them as four separate, wonderful individuals instead of as cookie cutter daughters molded to one shape.

3 comments:

  1. That was great! It really is hard not to push a product you're excited about. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  2. Thank you Audrey. I needed the reminder too!

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  3. Great point. As a future HS Mom, reviews that say "This is great." don't tell me anything. I need to know *why* and *how* they are great for their family.

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