Recently I had the opportunity to speak to families interested in homeschooling or new to homeschooling in my local area. There were several veteran homeschoolers who spoke for about 8 minutes on various topics. I was asked to talk about choosing homeschool curriculum. I shared 5 tips to help navigate all the curriculum choices available in order to find a good fit for your family. I thought many of you might find this information helpful, so I’m posting my talk here too. I’d love to read what tips you would add!
If you are just starting to consider homeschooling, or are pretty new— you know that choosing curriculum seems like a daunting task! When I first started homeschooling, there weren’t half as many choices as today! It can be overwhelming. I’m going to share some tips that will help you navigate through the curriculum chaos and hopefully lead you to what works best for your family and children.
You can view the video for my full talk or read it below.
For my family, our three main educational goals are:
- Help my children walk with God
- Teach and model good character and stewardship
- Teach them how to learn
One of the fears parents might have when considering homeschooling is leaving their child with educational gaps. Guess what? Even public school students have educational gaps! There is no perfect curriculum out there.
I like this definition of education:
Education is about acquiring skills, not just knowledge. Reading, thinking about, and discussing a variety of topics is more important to a quality education than the rote memorization of thousands of facts without the ability to explain or apply them. ~Susan Raber
That is why it is important to teach your children how to learn and to have a love for learning. Learning is a life-long activity.
Curriculum is an educational tool. It is one of many tools you will use to educate your child. You control the tool—the tool does not control you. So what does that mean? Whatever curriculum you choose, feel free to modify it if neccesary to work for your family. Don’t be tied to the check boxes on the daily lesson plan. If the curriculum is not working, feel free to ditch it and try something else!
Yes, I know— curriculum is not cheap. It can feel like a $ drain if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Here are five questions to ask while considering various curriculum options:
- What is my educational philosophy? (Only Passionate Curiosity and Homeschool Creations have great posts on this topic)
- What ways do my children learn best? (kinethestic, auditory, visual)
- What do I need as a teacher to help me homeschool effectively? For example— do you need a scripted curriculum that tells you exactly what to say, a curriculum that can be used by multiple ages, a curriculum that has all the components right in the box that you can pull out and use etc.
- Why am I homeschooling? What is my vision for this year? What are my goals for this year/desired outcome?
- What is my budget?
Once you’ve thought over these questions, take inventory of what you already have around the house! Talk with veteran homeschoolers and ask to flip through their curriculum. See what is available at the library. Check out other community resources.
If you are considering using a comprehensive, expensive curriculum, try seeing if you can purchase a semester at a time to see if it really will work for your family.
I’ve been homeschooling around 14 years now and I can tell you that different seasons of life and different children might require different educational philosophies, methods and curriculum. I ask God often to order our homeschool, help us learn what He needs us to learn, provide the right learning experiences, materials and mentors that we need.