What Do I Need to Know About Common Core?
Many reasons for choosing homeschooling come down to the ability to customize curriculum, whether for religious reasons or because of learning styles or special needs. But, when exploring the many curriculum options, the Common Core Standards often become a question and a concern.
What do homeschoolers need to know about Common Core? Should they be concerned? How should curriculum shopping be approached?
Points to Ponder
The Common Core Standards do not have to be a source of fear for homeschoolers. Here are a few thoughts to help you process Common Core and curriculum planning.
It is important to separate the standards themselves from any political or social agenda. Start by taking a little time to read the standards. These can be found at www.corestandards.org.
After reading the standards, go back and evaluate political and social discussion related to the implementation of Common Core. By educating yourself on the difference between the standards themselves and the implementation of them, you will be able to confidently choose a direction for your family.
Know Your State
At the current time, homeschoolers do not have to align with Common Core Standards even if their state has adopted them. If your state requires that homeschoolers test using the state standardized testing service, however, be aware that these tests will reflect Common Core methods that may be unfamiliar to your child. If you do not choose a Common Core aligned curriculum but are concerned about your child’s test scores, you might consider securing permission for alternate testing options or exemption from testing.
College entrance exams such as ACT and SAT also now conform to Common Core Standards. Fortunately, there are many preparatory options available to help students practice in advance for these tests, alleviating any issues caused by Common Core variations.
Remember that homeschooling allows a great deal of freedom in curriculum planning and implementation. As you explore whether or not to avoid curricula that utilizes the Common Core Standards, remember that it is often the implementation and interpretation of the standards that causes problems in traditional school settings, not necessarily the standards themselves. Under current laws, you have the freedom to choose curricula and teaching methods that best fit your child and situation.
Know the standards, learn how your child learns best, then set your parameters and boundaries based on your own needs. Once you have set those guidelines, explore the curricula that will best fit within those guidelines.
A Few More Thoughts
The Common Core Standards and their implementation have caused understandable concern among homeschoolers. By becoming educated, preparing our children for the situations in which they may encounter the standards, and choosing curricula based on our needs, we can implement the solid components of the standards while standing up for the freedom to educate our children according to our own ideals and standards.