How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum: A beginner’s guide (Part 1)
The question asked most by new homeschoolers it is, “What curriculum should I use?” The options for curriculum are staggering. One way to narrow down the curriculum options, is to first answer some questions. You may not know all the answers to these questions, but start with the ones you feel sure about.
1. Cost: How much can our family spend on curriculum?
2. Non-consumable: Can this program be used for other children in the future?
3. Time: How much one-on-one time do we have for teaching? For planning?
4. Multiple grade levels: Can the same subject be taught to kids of different ages at the same time with this program?
5. Supplemental materials: Do we want an all-inclusive program, or are we okay with purchasing supplemental materials?
6. Computer: Is a computer required for the course? What about Internet access?
7. Planning: Do we want flexibility in assignments or everything planned out?
8. Degree of difficulty: Will I need help teaching a subject?
A family new to Homeschooling wants to make the right decision that will not break their budget. Many programs have good and bad reviews. Others are heavily advertised and they are used by lot of people, but they aren’t always the best or most affordable choice. More money doesn’t always mean better.
When looking at curriculum, pay attention to how you feel about the layout of the program. No one teaches well with a confusing or frustrating program. Also, what type of student were you in school? That can indicate the type of student your children will be.
Gary and I were day dreamers in elementary school, often missing what was said in the front of the room. Likewise, our children were easily distracted and, as a result, independent work wasn’t the best option. Both parents should discuss the strengths and weaknesses they displayed in school, it might help to better understand how your child thinks and learns.
Major on language arts and mathematics, as they are the foundation for all other learning. Therefore, start exploring curriculum in these areas first. Any curriculum designed for a child with learning disabilities will also be effective for a child without learning disabilities. An example of that would be a multi-sensory reading and spelling program. The rate children move through the work will differ, but everyone learns to the same content.
A resource to consider owning is Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. It’s an extensive guide to thinking through your preferred teaching method and curriculum choices. More than a list of available curriculum, it includes finding your philosophy of education, a section on a child’s learning style, separate recommendations for all core subjects, plus timeless information from years of homeschool experience.
If you ask ten homeschoolers to recommend the best curriculum, you may get ten different answers. Be aware that you may end up with a curriculum that doesn’t suit you or your children. Every parent has purchased ineffective curriculum. Let the mistake go, and move on to your next choice. Consider joining a support group or attend a convention as a good source of information on all aspects of Homeschooling. There is a wealth of information available, give yourself time to figure it all out.