The Truth Behind Curriculum and Learning Styles

By Mommy Donna and Kib - May 06, 2020

During this period, a lot of people are in the hunt for a school for their children. One of the things that parents consider is homeschooling their children.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people interested in homeschooling is higher compared to the previous years. Parents are scared to put back their children in schools for fear of acquiring the disease.

One of the things that the parents ask about homeschooling is the materials or the curriculum that their kids will use.

The curriculum is defined in several ways, but somehow the overall concept is the same. 

The curriculum is an academic program containing topics for each subject. The curriculum is planned annually by the school or by the teacher. It serves as a guide for the parents so that there will a smooth flow of discussion of the lessons.

The curriculum is important because it is used to also measure student competency. It also serves as a plan for success because the teacher is prepared for the lessons that he/she will teach to the students.

In choosing a homeschool provider, there are two types of curriculum in homeschooling: open curriculum and boxed curriculum.

The open curriculum is giving the parents the freedom to customize the books needed per subject. In an open curriculum program, either the school has a recommended list of books or the parent will choose books. The books chosen by the parents outside the recommended list need to be approved by the school. Since we are in the Philippines, the curriculum that the parent will choose for the child should be aligned with the Department of Education's (DepEd) standards.

In an open curriculum, parents prepare the lessons for their children. Some parents reason out that the open curriculum option helps in addressing the learning style of their children. There are parents who find joy in preparing for the lessons, that is why they opt for open curriculum. Also, there are parents who want the best materials for each subject; that is why they also choose the open curriculum for their children.

The boxed curriculum, on the other hand, is a set curriculum for all subjects, complete with discussion points, activities, and even tests to measure the child's understanding of the topic. The parents do not have to worry about the execution because everything is on the manual. The boxed curriculum has been tested and proven to be effective as the content was made by the experts.

Both types of curriculum are actually good. Choose the curriculum which will help your child learn and enjoy, and not because of your child's learning style. I'll explain this point later, but let me first define what learning styles are.

Learning styles are ways an individual learns. It can be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, or a combination of other learning styles. An auditory learner learns best in listening to podcasts or records, or just by listening to the speaker. A visual learner learns best when he/she sees the presentation slides, or sees the actual object. A kinesthetic learner learns best when he/she does things with his/her hands and body. 

A student can learn from any of the three different learning styles, but there is one dominant learning style on which the learning is optimized.

Do you choose a curriculum to address your child's learning styles?

Honestly, the curriculum does not have anything to do with addressing the child's learning styles. The curriculum does not include the manner of execution of the topics. It is the teacher who addresses the learning style and not the curriculum. 

Do not confuse the curriculum with the lesson plan. The lesson plan is the actual plan on how a particular topic on the curriculum will be taught. This is where the teacher considers the child's learning style so that the child may have a full grasp of the concept.

Whether you're using an open curriculum or boxed curriculum, you can still incorporate your child's learning style. It is not true that a boxed curriculum will offer limited learning opportunities because everything is served on a silver platter. 

We have been using a boxed curriculum ever since we started homeschooling. We used Sing, Spell, Read, and Write (read about it here) when Kib was in preschool and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) up to the present. I chose these two curriculums because I had personally encountered these two curriculums (SSRW when I was teaching at a preschool, and I used ACE when I was a grade school student). The boxed curriculum has helped me in lessening the prep time in the lessons because I'm a busy person. The boxed curriculum has also taught my son to be independent by trying to figure out the concepts on his own with minimal supervision. It does not mean that I am a lazy mom, but I just wanted to use our time wisely and efficiently. 

Did the boxed curriculum limit my son's learning? Definitely no!

I made sure to supplement my learning by doing things apart from answering his school materials. It may not totally supplement the current topic my son is learning, but it gives him an idea about something. 

Did the boxed curriculum address your child's learning style? Yes!

My son loves reading, so I never had any problems letting him read long texts. However, my son has difficulty in Math so I let him watch videos on YouTube to further explain the concept. We go on trips to learn about the culture and the environment. I make sure that I let my son to be exposed to different learning styles so that he won't have any problems adjusting when he studies in a regular school.

A fellow blogger, May Palacpac of Fully Housewifed, also shared her thoughts about using a boxed curriculum. She was happy to discover the joys of using a boxed curriculum in homeschooling her three kids. She admitted that at first, she thought that a boxed curriculum will limit her children in discovering new things. However, when she tried using a boxed curriculum, she realized that a boxed curriculum has made their time valuable while she continued to support her children's interest in performing arts. She mentioned that the choice of a particular curriculum is all about the mindset of the parents (read full text here).

To sum it up, whether you are using an open curriculum or a boxed curriculum, it is the role of the parent to address the learning style of the child. The curriculum is a guide of topics and lessons and does not take care of your child's learning style. Whatever kind of curriculum you will choose for your child, I believe that you wanted to give the best to your child.

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