Reasons to Modify Curriculum

(Notes taken from Robert Windham and Machele Kilgore)

I. Know Your Child’s Learning Patterns or Learning Style

A. Find out what your Child’s Modality is: Modality determines the easiest way to receive information

1. Visual: Understands and processes information best when they can visually see it. They learn by observing.

2. Auditory: Understands and processes information best when they can hear it. They learn by listening.

3. Kinesthetic: Understands and processes information best when they can be actively involved as they process the information. They learn by doing.

B. Discover your child’s Temperament Style: Determines Attitudes toward Instructional Materials and Methods.

1. Where Attention is Focused:

a. Extroversion: Focus is on the outer world of people, events, and objects

b. Introversion: Focus is on the inner world of ideas

2. How information is Acquired:

a. Sensing: Information is acquired directly through the senses.

Focus is on the concrete and the present.

b. Intuition: Information is acquired through insight, inspiration,

and hunches. Focus is on the possible and the future.

3. How Decisions are Made:

a. Thinking: Decisions are based on logical analysis and consideration of cause and effect.

b. Feeling: Decisions are based on personal values and a consideration of how the decisions will affect self and others.

4. Work Habits:

a. Judging: Prefer life to be orderly and planned.

b. Perceiving: Prefers life to be spontaneous and flexible.

C. Understand Multiple Intelligences which determine Interests and Talents

1. Verbal-Linguistic: Speaking, reading, and writing

2. Logical –Mathematical: Forming concepts and finding abstract patterns

3. Visual-Spatial: Thinking in images, pictures, shapes, and colors

4. Musical-Rhythmic: Rhyme, rhythm, and melody

5. Bodily-Kinesthetic: Touching, manipulating, moving, making, doing, balance, and coordination

6. Interpersonal (social): Relating to and cooperating with people

7. Intrapersonal (self): Independence and self-motivation

8. Naturalist: Awareness of sensitivity to the natural environment

D. List the areas that your child prefers the most in his/her learning and temperament styles and intelligences.

E. Understand that you will possibly see a level of each area in your child, but they will definitely have certain styles that they prefer or rely more strongly upon.

II. Know the Curriculum’s Teaching Patterns

A. Does the curriculum vary its approach in communicating and interacting with new information? Or, is it the same over and over again?

**Think of the different approaches you’ve seen the curriculum use for different subject areas and write them down.

B. If you were to analyze the curriculum writers, which learning or temperament styles and intelligences have they used the most? What do they use the least?

C. How does the curriculum’s emphasis on a certain learning or temperament style compare with your child’s and his intelligence strengths?

D. What areas can you think of that cause this to be beneficial or problematic?

Can you recall specific instances that your child may have had a difficult time doing an assignment simply because of the contrast in how the information was being presented?

E. You never want to solely teach to your child’s learning or temperament style. They need to develop the weaker areas of these as well, but sometimes when you are in a crunch it’s okay to cater to their strength.

For example: (Brainstorm together)

III. Know the Objective

A. What is the goal? What is the curriculum trying to teach?

B. It is important that you not blindly rely on a curriculum to have an objective and assume it is being taught as you go through the curriculum. You need to know, what you are trying to accomplish in teaching your child. Your child may need to understand and know the objective as well.

C. Here are some ideas to help you pick out the objectives, if they are not clearly listed.

1. Are they presenting new information? If so this can be an objective by itself.

2. Is the information necessary for further education? If the information they are presenting is not necessary for this moment, and can be taught at a later time if you think it better, than evaluate whether you’d like to focus on something else. You have the choice to modify – you are the teacher!

3. Are they asking the child to demonstrate understanding? Is it an assessment of some kind?

a. Assessments come in all forms; they are not just tests. Story books, writing assignments, presentations, reports, etc. are all assessments. Anything that is a measurement of what the child has learned or understood is an assessment.

b. If the assessment is not going to show their true understanding, or it can be shown in a way that better suites the child, then modify the assessment. Your objective to understand what the child has learned remains the same; it is just your method that has changed.

4. Are they asking the child to demonstrate understanding and teach a new skill at the same time?

a. If they are trying to teach a new skill along with assessing the child’s understanding, you most likely should make sure that this skill is still taught. You do not want to always change your child’s assessments if it means he or she is not learning new skills along the way.

b. For example, an oral presentation on a book report serves as the measurement of understanding of what took place in the book. However, the process and presentation is a learned skill that must be taught with specific modeling and guided instruction. This is a valuable skill that they will need to build on throughout their educational career and after.

IV. Know your Time Frame

1. Is the time frame in which the curriculum wants your child to complete the assignment reasonable?

2. Does it give enough time for you to model and teach the concept to your child in light of his or her preferred learning style? This does not mean you are catering to your child’s learning style, but if the assignment is pushing him to work in a weaker learning style, you must keep in mind that it will be more of a struggle.

3. Is it too much time? Will your child be overtaken by his or her detail orientations and spend too much time, when he or she could do it quicker? Is it too long of a time frame, and risks the chance of the child becoming bored and unmotivated before the end of the project? If so…MODIFY!

4. Will your child be able to do a good job and feel as though he or she was able to do his or her best? If the child is given little time to accomplish a new skill or understand new information, it only breeds frustration, stress and a lack of motivation for the next time. Keep in mind how you feel when you are rushed and know the job you are doing is not going to be given the chance to be up to the standard that you would like. Your child can feel the same way with his or her work in the classroom. Time limits are necessary for those children that tend to take a long time with everything, but consider whether it is giving your child a fair chance to engage in a positive learning experience with the amount of time the curriculum has allotted. If not…MODIFY!

V. Know what you and your child are capable of: This brings FREEDOM TO MODIFY.

A. You know your child better than anyone else – if the curriculum is not pushing them enough – and you know they are capable of more – it’s time to modify!

B. If you know the curriculum is demanding too much of your child because they spend all day in home school, work on things 2-4 hours after school, and still cannot accomplish what the curriculum is expecting. It’s time to modify!

C. Professional teachers do not always finish the curriculum all the time – they modify and sometimes that means they just don’t finish everything. They are constantly changing and working with curriculum to make it more appealing to the students and a stronger learning experience based upon the learning styles they have in the classroom. You are the teacher and you have freedom to change the book!