Every day I receive questions from parents just like you, with questions about my one-of-a-kind A Child’s World Curriculum. In an effort to make answering those questions easier, as well as helping everyone that is curious understand my process of creating this amazing curriculum, especially as more and more grades become available, I have put together this post about the creation of A Child’s World Curriculum! Enjoy!
What was the motivation for creating this unique curriculum?
As you may have learned from my About Me page, my work in education began in the public school system. With two Masters degrees (as a Reading Specialist and in Curriculum and Instruction Design), I worked in classrooms from Pre-K to 5th grade. It was during these years that I discovered so much about the WRONG way of doing things. The dry, boring, repetitive textbooks that weren’t grabbing kids’ interest. The myriad of testing that was crushing the spirit of excited learners (and causing those who were falling just a bit under the curve to collapse under the pressure). The complete lack of child-led, autonomous learning that developmental researchers knew to be the best and most meaningful type of learning. I knew that when I had my own children, this was never a path I would take with them.
When I had my first child, I stayed true to that vision. I left my job in the classroom to focus on creating a learning environment at home that supported his natural development. As he got into his pre-k years, I began searching for a curriculum that might help me support what he was already naturally doing in his daily life and play. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at the story’s end), I was unable to find anything that matched what my vision was. I wanted a program that focused on his natural development, not solely on academic skills. I wanted something that was flexible and allowed me to follow his interests, needs, and methods of learning, not a cookie cutter day-by-day program that became boring and repetitive to us both. After months of research, I realized that my only option was to create my own curriculum.Obviously that vision that I had for my own child was one that I shared with many other parents. That was 2014, and five years later, A Child’s World is being used by thousands of families on six continents around the world.
How is A Child’s World Curriculum designed?
I often say that I should create a sped-up time lapse video of my workspace during a curriculum creation time, because wow-oh-wow would it be intense to watch! Any family that is already using this curriculum knows just how in-depth and incredible the activities flow together, not just within each curriculum, but from one grade to the next. I can’t tell you how many times a family has come to me with the question “How will I know my child is learning anything if there aren’t worksheets and tests?” and then come back to me at the completion of a year exclaiming the “magic” of this curriculum and all of the wonderful things that their child has discovered on their journey.
So, how does that magic come to fruition?
Easy. Every curriculum begins with the child.
Unlike most programs that begin with skills or assessments, A Child’s World begins with the understanding of the unique comprehensive development that is happening for the children at that age level. I ask myself – what is happening in the physical development of this age? What is happening with their social and emotional development right now? How are they most likely sharing information, curious about, and happenings in the world around them? I begin with that foundation to set the tone for a year of enjoyment, child-led learning, and joyful experiences that ALSO provide intense learning opportunities.
Next, I look at the necessary skills and content that children at that age/grade level need. Not only does this help you ensure that your child is learning all of the basics and then some, but if you live in a state or region where you are required to submit your learning materials as a homeschooling family, you can be confident that all of the regulations and standards will be met with just this curriculum. Every grade level covers literacy, mathematics, science, art/creativity, nature studies, and social connections (with sensory play added in the Pre-K/K level).
Then the creative work begins (this is when the time lapse video would be hilarious to watch – SO MANY BOOKS and post-its and notebooks….). I carefully and creatively blend the developmental needs, the necessary skills and content, with meaningful literature and activities that allow your child to learn in a flexible, open-ended, and child-led way without the stress and repetition of worksheets, textbooks, tests, etc. Naturally, this is the longest phase of the operation, as I construct meaning out of the notes and ideas and put the curriculum together, with key learning and planning, along with helpful assessment and observation notes for parents. My goal in all of this is to create a flexible, one-stop-shop for natural, child-led learning experiences that are easy to put together for you and full of excitement and meaningful learning for your child. We’re looking for a win win win here! And as one parent recently described, “I’ve finally found a curriculum that doesn’t just TALK about good philosophy, but actually EMBRACES it.” Boom. Win win win achieved.
How does a child using A Child’s World Curriculum progress through the grade levels?
If each grade level is aligning with the child’s natural development, what does that look like stretched out over the elementary period? It’s great to know where you are and where you’ve been, but it’s also super helpful to know where you’re going. Here’s what that looks like:
Pre-K/Kindergarten: At this age, children are driven by curiosity about the world around them. “How do this work?” is the driving factor of that curiosity, as they encounter a myriad of new things in their environment. As they explore the world beyond their four walls, that curiosity is deepened by the excitement of nature and the never-ending discovery and learning opportunities presented there. For this reason, the Pre-K/Kindergarten Curriculum focuses on an exploration of nature and freely exploring the outside world to lay a solid foundation for meaningful learning to come.
First Grade: This is when your child suddenly becomes aware that they are their own person. Maybe you remember when you were first aware that you were a unique person with your own thoughts separate from everyone around you! It’s a whole new world to discover! And that’s what your child explores through First Grade – self-identity, creative self-expression, and how they fit into the world around them, from the small (family) to the large (world). It’s a year long discovery of how they relate to everything in the world around them, and their role in each of those realms.
Second Grade: Did you know that age 7 is the average culminating age of when literacy skills explode for a child? It’s the time when your child’s brain suddenly begins to make great sense of literacy, even if they’re already reading or not quite there yet. Vocabulary and conversation skills increase, writing progresses, reading skills expand at a rapid rate. It’s a year of natural literacy development unlike anything that’s happened for your child yet. This is what we focus on in the Second Grade Curriculum – exploring all of the different genres of literature to excite your child about the possibilities that lie in the written and spoken word.
Third Grade (set to be available 2020): This age is sort of like a first grade round two for your child’s emotional and social development. They’re becoming aware of their relationships outside of family and how to navigate social waters. They are more aware of their emotions and feelings and often struggle with regulating those two together. Third Grade takes that sensitive time period into account through an exploration of positive character traits, through exemplary characters in literature. Learning about feelings and navigating relationships is such a powerful experience, and embracing those big feelings through safe places like literature helps so much.
Fourth Grade (set to be available 2020): One of the biggest reasons we see a statistical drop-off of both motivation and academic success when children move to middle school is due to a lack of exposure to non-fiction texts and material. So much of elementary years is focused on stories and picture books, and when our children are suddenly expected to be able to understand non-fiction texts and complex scientific concepts, even the brightest children often struggle. In Fourth Grade, your child will discover how much learning fun can happen through non-fiction in a year of science-themed excitement!
Fifth Grade (set to be available 2020): Getting ready to move into the world of middle school is a big and scary undertaking for fifth graders. Learning experiences change, more responsibility is taken on, and as your child gets older and begins doing more outside the home and on their own, a need to navigate tougher social situations becomes a concern. In Fifth Grade, our focus is in exploring cultures around the world, helping your child learn about others unlike themselves, develop empathy skills, and realize how big and exciting the world around them is as they launch into a new year of self-navigation.
As you can see, through each successive year of learning through A Child’s World Curriculum, your child learns so much more than just what can be checked off in academic boxes.
How will I know that my child is learning if there are no worksheets or tests?
If you’re still concerned about this fact after reading this far down, the best thing I can tell you is to TRUST that your child is capable. No matter what, that is the true foundation of natural learning that A Child’s World is built upon. Beyond that, you will find tips and tricks for how to observe and assess your child’s progress in each activity, section, theme, and curriculum as you work through the material. Your child’s ability to write down or fact check knowledge of a subject is just ONE way to assess, and is really the lowest level of retention. Through A Child’s World, we encourage much higher levels of learning, application, and assessment through looking at a multitude of ways that your child is showing you that they’re learning. In grades 2nd and beyond, you will also find Final Projects in each theme that provide you with a final assessment as well as documentation should it be needed for records.
Will I need to supplement with any other curriculum materials?
Short answer: no. As I outlined above, everything that your child needs to know is covered in each grade level, so supplementation is not needed for the basics.
Long answer: it’s totally up to you. I know firsthand that sometimes a child’s interest can fall way, WAY off the anticipated path and throw you for a loop in terms of what to plan for your child’s learning (my oldest spent a period of 6+ months diving way deep into ancient Egypt at the age of 6). Although I strive to provide plenty of opportunities for your child to touch on a wide range of exciting learning opportunities in A Child’s World Curriculum, there may be times when you have to step off and forge your own path for a few weeks or months. In those cases, generally I believe your local library, internet, and community resources will provide you with everything you need, but there may be a curriculum out there that perfectly matches up with your child’s interests at that time. In that case, supplementing is a great idea.
What if I still have questions?
Yay! I love talking about it, obviously! 🙂 If you have questions for me specifically, click on over to the Contact Page and ask away. If you’d like to chat with other families who have experience using A Child’s World Curriculum, come over to the Your Natural Learner Facebook Group and post your question where you’ll definitely get support and answers from fellow users.