What Curriculum Should I Use?
This is a question I’m asked all the time. Unfortunately, it’s one I can’t answer. The curriculum that’s best for your child is the one that best meets their needs. And you know and understand your child better than anyone else. That makes you the ideal person to choose their curriculum!
Of course, I could tell you all about how I homeschool my kids and recommend the same materials to you. But I won’t do that. What works well for us may not be a fit for your family. There’s an endless number of ways to homeschool. If you ask twenty homeschool parents how they homeschool and which curriculum they use, you’ll likely get twenty different answers.
When you decided to homeschool it was probably because, for one reason or another, the one-size-fits-all approach of public or private schools was not a fit for your family. Now that you’ve gotten out of the box of mass schooling, don’t jump right into another box. You have the freedom to forge your own path!
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But how do I do that?
When selecting curriculum for your child, there are many different factors to consider. These include choosing a homeschool method, determining your child’s learning style, considering your teaching style, setting a budget, reading curriculum reviews, and shopping. I’ve divided this process into six steps.
1. Research Homeschooling Methods & Philosophies
Spend some time researching various homeschooling methods. This short quiz may help you narrow down which methods to consider for your family. For more information about homeschooling methods and philosophies, the following blogs and articles are excellent resources:
2. Determine Your Child’s Learning Style
When considering different homeschooling methods, remember to keep your child’s learning style, interests, strengths, and weaknesses in mind. Figuring out how they learn best will probably take a little trial and error, but doing some research on learning styles can reduce the guesswork. The information in these blogs and articles will help get you started:
3. Consider Your Teaching Style & Time Constraints
Do you want a curriculum that’s open-and-go, or do you enjoy planning lessons yourself? Do you prefer a curriculum that’s divided into daily lessons or something more flexible? Would a detailed teacher’s manual be helpful? Also, consider how much time you have to teach your children. If you have a large family or work full-time, you may want to consider using curriculum that your children can do independently for some of their subjects. This could include online or video courses or textbooks designed for independent study. If you have more time, you may want to consider using more living books rather than textbooks. Also, many families choose to have all of their children do subjects like history, science, and Bible together as a group. Decided if you’d like to do this or if you’d prefer for each child to have their own separate curriculum for every subject.
4. Set a Curriculum Budget
Before choosing curriculum, it’s essential to know how much you can spend. So, take a close look at your family’s budget and determine how much money you have available for curriculum and other homeschool expenses. Remember to also consider the costs of school supplies, any homeschool organizations or co-ops you may want to join, extracurricular activities, and possible field trips. If you find that your family doesn’t have much in the budget for curriculum, don’t let it discourage you! Families with limited budgets homeschool just as successfully as those with large curriculum budgets.
To keep costs low, consider using free curriculum. Freedom Homeschooling lists free curriculum for all grades and every subject, including many electives. Choose a subject from the menu on our main page to begin exploring free options. Another way to keep curriculum costs low is to purchase used curriculum. When you can’t find what you need for free or used, seek out affordable curriculum publishers. Many offer high-quality curriculum at lower prices. 7Sisters Homeschool is one of these. They keep their prices low by selling curriculum in PDF format.
5. Curriculum Reviews and Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
I usually read several reviews online and look at online samples and previews before making a purchase. Author and homeschool mother, Cathy Duffy has reviewed nearly all of the most popular homeschool curriculum on her website. Homeschool blogs and YouTube channels are another place to check for curriculum reviews. These posts and videos often help you get a better look at the materials than you’d get from the publisher’s website or catalog. They also provide valuable information about how the reviewer’s family put the materials into use.
Talking with homeschooling friends is another way to learn about curriculum options. It helps to be able to look at someone’s materials in person and talk to them about what it’s like and how it works. Just remember that the curriculum that your friend loves might not be what you are looking for, and that’s okay! If you don’t have any local homeschooling friends, online forums, like Homeschool Speak, and social media are another way to get word-of-mouth reviews and ask questions. Keep in mind, though, that these people online don’t know you personally and may have vastly different experiences and opinions from yours.
6. Shopping for Curriculum
Now that you’ve determined what types of curriculum may be a good fit for your family, have set a budget, and read reviews, we’re ready for the fun part – shopping! One of my favorite places to shop for homeschool curriculum is Rainbow Resource Center. They have the largest selection of curriculum to choose from that I’ve found. They also have reasonable pricing, free shipping on orders over $50, and very detailed product descriptions.