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How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum with Confidence
Don’t be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing homeschool curriculum for your children! We’re sharing our best tips to make the process as easy as possible. That way, you know how to choose homeschool curriculum that will mesh with your unique family and goals.
Think Through What You Want Your Homeschool to Look Like
Before you jump into buying homeschool curriculum, take the time to dream a little. Homeschooling is about more than how you educate your children. It’s a lifestyle choice. Take some time to consider the following questions:
- What are my biggest priorities when it comes to educating my children?
- How can I help my children to develop a love of learning—to educate them in a way that inspires them to be lifelong learners?
- What do I want our family relationships to look like?
- What skills and character traits do I want my children to develop?
- When we are finished homeschooling, what do I want my kids to say about their experience? How do I want to look back on it? What memories do I want us all to look back on with fondness?
Understanding the big picture will help you make the best choices possible when it comes to curriculum.
Your answers to the question above will help you answer what’s maybe the most important one: “What is our why for homeschooling?”
When you know your why for homeschooling and what your goals are in educating your children, you’ll be able to make choices that are right for your family. You won’t get caught up in the comparison trap and simply choose what your friends are doing no matter how much they rave about it!
Discover Your Children’s Learning Styles
There are three main learning styles. If you do much research, you’ll find that this topic has both defenders and detractors. But one thing our experience as homeschoolers has told us—each child is unique and has different ways they receive and remember information the best.
Auditory—Kids learn by hearing
Visual—Kids learn by seeing
Kinesthetic—Kids learn by doing
Not sure what your children’s learning styles are?
- Be a student of your students. Pay attention to what works well for them and what doesn’t.
- Realize that the best homeschool curriculum will address a variety of learning styles in its methodology. The more ways information is presented, the better kids learn it—no matter what their learning style is.
- Take an online quiz. Most are written for the student to answer, but for young learners you can work through it together. Here are several online options to choose from:
What’s Your Learning Style?
Learning Style Assessment
Learning Styles Quiz
Learning styles are simply a tool in your educational toolbox. By understanding how your child prefers to learn and best retains information, you’ll have a “secret weapon” when it comes to helping your children when they struggle with specific topics and subjects.
Get an Overview of Educational Philosophies and Methods
Here are some of the most common philosophies and methods:
- Traditional. This method most resembles school at home. So think, textbooks, workbooks, occasional testing. Teacher led, sticking to a particular curriculum. It most closely aligns with the education most of us grew up with.
- Classical. Classical homeschooling involves teaching based on the three stages of learning: the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and the Rhetoric stage. The Grammar stage involves learning facts, memorization, and knowledge gathering. The Logic stage is when reasoning and logic begin to be applied to the knowledge.
- Charlotte Mason. The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three- pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”
- Unit Studies. The basic concept of unit studies is using one topic or literary selection to in- corporate the majority of school subjects, especially: science, history, social studies and geography, writing, art and reading.
- Unschooling. Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.
- Biblical Principle Approach. This approach has been called “reflective teaching and learning.” It is America’s historic method of Biblical reasoning which places the Truths (or principles) of God’s Word at the heart of education.
- Child Led or Interest Led Learning. Child led or interest led learning means exactly that. You are allowing the child to choose or direct the topics in which you will study.
When it comes to deciding on philosophy and methods, you do not need to marry the first one you meet. Feel free to date around for a while. Honestly, we’re pretty big fans of homeschool polygamy! (Don’t worry, you won’t end up on a TLC reality show 🤪)
We’re simply suggesting that when it comes to all the educational philosophies and methods out there, you don’t have to commit to just one for all the subjects or even all your children! You may want to teach language arts naturally, while using a traditional textbook for math. You may choose a hands-on approach for science with your youngest student and enroll your high schooler in an online course. The point is you can take what you like and what works for your children from a variety of educational ideas.
This is called the eclectic approach. And of course we are partial to it since we love sharing resources for the eclectic homeschooler!
Decide What Will Work for Your Children and YOU!
The best curriculum for your kids is also the one that works for you. For some moms, an all-in-one, open and go curriculum is the perfect choice. Others need or want more control over specific subjects. Here are some questions to consider when you’re thinking through if a particular curriculum is a good fit for you as well as your children.
- Do you work from home or outside of the home in addition to homeschooling?
- How many different ages and grades will you be teaching at the same time?
- Do you have any other support?
- How much do you enjoy interacting with your kids during lessons? Do you love teaching, or would you rather see yourself as a facilitator?
- Does the thought of hands-on activities make you want to jump up and down or jump out a window?
- What parts of school do you get excited about? What do you dread?
There are times you’ll set aside your personal preferences, and there are times you’ll sacrifice what you like for what your children want and need. But if how you are homeschooling the majority of time exhausts you mentally and emotionally, you will burn out.
Consider the Cost
If the “perfect” curriculum costs too much and puts financial strain on your family, then it’s not perfect. As a matter of fact, there is no perfect curriculum anyway. Our kids can learn from a variety of resources.
If you’ve found something you love, but it doesn’t fit in your budget, you have multiple options:
- Find a similar curriculum at a lower cost.
- Look for it used in buy/sell groups.
- See if you can borrow it from a friend.
Just a note on borrowing curriculum and resources: Ask the person you are borrowing from if you have something they would like to borrow. If not, offer to help them out in another way. There is a cost to homeschooling as there is for anything valuable. You don’t want to be the person that expects someone else to foot the bill for you children’s education. But know that if finances are tight, there are ways to help pay without money. You just have to get creative!
If you want to keep your sanity, we recommend looking for a curriculum that allows you to simplify whenever possible. So many subjects can be taught in connection to other subjects.
- Read historical fiction (language arts and history)
- Journal when they study nature (writing, art, and science)
- Look up the location of an historical event (geography and history)
You get the idea. Learning doesn’t fit into nice little neat subject boxes, so embrace the connectedness.
Another way to simplify is for students of different ages and grade levels to study the same topics at the same time. Honestly, it makes it more fun that way too. When you are all learning about the same topic you’ll be able to discuss what you are learning together. History, science, art, music, geography…all of these subjects can be taught to multi-level students at the same time.
You Can Be Confident in Choosing Curriculum
Remember, the most important part of educating your children at home isn’t really about the curriculum. It’s about learning alongside one another, figuring things out as you go along, and developing strong relationships. When it comes to lifelong learning—YOU are the best resource. Everything else is “figureoutable.”
It’s ok if you buy something that doesn’t work. Every veteran homeschooler will tell you they spent money on curriculum and resources that didn’t work for their kids. But don’t think of it as wasted money. It’s simply a part of the learning process. We don’t expect our kids to be perfect as they learn, so we shouldn’t expect that we will be either.
You’ve got this! And we’re happy to help along the way. If you are completely new to this whole homeschooling thing, grab this FREE quick-start guide now.
Want to learn more about choosing homeschool curriculum? Watch the Workshop!