Monday, February 29, 2016

Scoping Out the Sequence

Back here I gave a rough outline of my cost/benefit analysis of going without textbooks (at least in math).  Since I've gotten some questions about the the reason behind them, I'd like to do a brief post expanding on each of the items I mentioned as "pros" for us.

  • I'm not constrained to a particular scope and sequence (order of topics) and can order them based on learning opportunities, whole-family instruction and the developmental abilities of each child.

I want to stress (again) that there isn't anything wrong with purchasing curriculum with a scope and sequence or following one.  As mothers, our resources are limited.  It is not a cop-out to choose materials that take some of the work off of our plates!  However, at this point in the life of our family, the scope and sequence in our textbooks felt more like a restraint than a help.

As I looked through the children's textbooks (grades 6, 5, 3 and 1), I realized that there was a great deal of overlap in topics - at varying degrees of complexity, but related to the same general ideas.  However, these topics were not presented in the same order in each grade.  My first impulse was to tear all of the pages out of each of the (consumable) books, rearrange them by topic and use binder clips to clip together all of the pages that fell under the same general concept.  The problem with that idea was that since I'd be teaching the topics out of order (according to each individual textbook) and since an Abeka math page is about 25-40% work on the current topic and 60-75% review, the children would potentially be assigned "review" problems for concepts they had not yet learned.

Sure, I could create a system for keeping track of what each kid had already learned and then assign or skip over review problems accordingly.  But if I am going to keep track of those details and have that close of a handle on who needs to review what, the limited options offered on each math page actually become more of a restraint than a boon.  More on this when we talk about ...

  • I get to create the lessons and activities myself.

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