Choosing the right school curriculum for children is an important decision. A curriculum can form the basis of a child’s education and will likely have a major impact on the success or failure of their academic outcomes.
There are a variety of different curricula available and parents must weigh each one carefully to make sure they are making the best curriculum choice for their child. In this article, we’ll examine 13 important factors to consider when making a school curriculum choice.
1. Academic Rigor
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a curriculum is academic rigor. Academic rigor is a measure of how challenging a curriculum is and how much critical and creative thinking it requires of learners. An academically rigorous curriculum is usually more engaging and will push student learning beyond the basics.
While a rigorous curriculum can be difficult to master, the long-term benefits to a students self-confidence and skill-set can be invaluable. Consider looking at sample assignments, reading reviews by other parents, and asking educators in the field to determine if a curriculum is right for your child.
2. Aligned to State Standards
Parents should also make sure that the curriculum they choose meets their state’s core standards and educational goals. The core standards outline what students in each grade level should know and be able to do, and curricula should teach those skills.
A curriculum may be either adopted by the state or written to meet the standard. An adopted curriculum is conventionally known to be more reliable, though there are exceptions. States often provide resources to parents regarding their curriculum and what is expected, so parents should make sure to check out those resources before selecting a curriculum.
3. Age and Grade-Level Appropriateness
Parents should also look for an age and grade level-appropriate curriculum. The curriculum should be designed to meet the needs of students at their grade level and should not contain material that is too far advanced or much too basic for their capabilities.
In general, the better the curriculum is tailored for the grade level, the more success the student will have.
4. Individual Learning Needs
In addition to selecting a curriculum that meets grade level expectations, parents need to consider their child’s individual learning needs. For example, some children may be more visual learners, while others are more auditory or kinesthetic learners.
Therefore, the curriculum chosen must be crafted to meet those individual learning styles. With modern technology, there are many options available that are flexible and can be tailored to meet any individual’s learning needs.
5. Teacher Availability and Qualifications
The availability and qualifications of the teacher is another important consideration when selecting a school curriculum. Well-qualified teachers are key to successful learning outcomes and a teacher who is knowledgeable about the curriculum chosen can be a major asset. In some cases, a school or district may provide a pre-approved list of suitable curricula, so parents should research if that is the case in their area.
6. Cost and Resources
Cost and available resources are also very important factors to consider when selecting a curriculum. Many curricula are expensive and can come with a variety of fee-based extras such as assessments, online access to course materials, and teacher support services. Depending on the school or district, there may be options for free or discounted materials or services.
There may even be crowdfunded organizations in some areas that provide free or low-cost materials and services to help with the curriculum selection process.
7. Online or Print Materials
When choosing a curriculum, parents also need to determine whether they prefer an online or a print-based curriculum. Online resources offer convenience and flexibility, but print materials often provide a physical reference for learners.
Furthermore, many parents find it beneficial for their child to be able to use a tangible reference, such as a textbook or workbook, when learning.
8. Variety of Teaching Strategies
Parents should also consider if the curriculum offers a variety of teaching strategies. A curriculum should include not only lectures, but also activities, hands-on labs, simulations, and other teaching strategies such as video or audio-based instruction.
The different teaching strategies should be aligned with the curriculum and should provide developmentally appropriate instruction.
9. Technology Integrations
The level of technology integration within the curriculum is another key factor to consider. Technology can often provide an engaging and interactive way for students to learn, but not all students have access to, or are comfortable with, a high-tech approach. Some curricula may offer only basic, old-school methods, while others are designed to be used with the latest technologies.
10. Parent Support
Parents need to ensure that a curriculum provides support for parents, as well. A good curriculum will provide detailed lesson plans, suggested activities, and other resources that can help parents to supplement their child’s learning. This type of support is invaluable and should not be neglected.
11. Alignment with Religious Beliefs
Religion is an important part of many families’ lives and parents should make sure to choose a curriculum that aligns with their faith’s values and beliefs. Some faiths may have specific requirements for a curriculum, such as avoiding certain types of materials, or having certain topics discussed in a particular manner. So, parents must take time to research any faith-based curriculum requirements, before committing to a particular curriculum.
12. Future Opportunities
When selecting a curriculum, parents must also think about their child’s future academic and career opportunities. The curriculum chosen should prepare the student for the next steps in their education and should offer activities and projects that build life skills.
If a student does not have access to those skills, then their future career or college opportunities may be limited. So, research potential future courses and prospects before selecting a curriculum.
13. Quality of Assessment Tools
Finally, parents should also evaluate the quality of the assessment tools included with a curriculum. A good assessment tool should assess a student’s progress, offer feedback on performance, and identify areas of improvement. Also, look to see if the assessment tool includes remedial activities and mental exercises that can help the student reach higher levels of comprehension and skill.
When selecting a school curriculum, parents must consider all of the factors outlined in this article to make the best choice for their child. Choosing a curriculum can be a daunting task, but proper research and evaluating all options can help to ensure the right decision.
Ultimately, the right curriculum selection can make a huge difference in a child’s academic success.