A Better Way to Choose the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum
There are so many different homeschool curriculum out there. It’s easy to get lost in all of the choices. Added to the plethora of choices are different styles:
Then you have to figure out if your child is a hands-on learner, visual, auditory.
What about STEM?
Boxed curriculum, free curriculum, online?
The list goes on and on and you find yourself getting caught up in the noise. You go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, ones labeled Pinterest, Facebook groups, blogs. There is so much information out there today and it can be very hard to wade through.
But you don’t let that curb your enthusiasm. You research it all, ask all the questions and pull the plug. You buy the curriculum and happily implement it in your homeschool.
Everything seems to be going fine! You’re several weeks in, children are happy with their personalized school subjects and your homeschool is happily buzzing along.
But something inside of you doesn’t feel right.
You have to spend extra time learning the math so you can teach it.
You want to have a schedule laid out, but don’t, because the overall curriculum was best for your child. So you stay up late at night figuring it out.
But other things have to be sacrificed, equally important things, like meal planning or laundry. However, you plug along because it’s what is best for your child. You are miserable, but your child is learning and isn’t that what homeschooling is all about?
Here is the most important idea that I have learned over all of my years of homeschooling:
If the curriculum doesn’t fit YOU, it won’t work in your homeschool.
Curriculum is your tool and should work for you. Not the other way around. Your personality, your background, what you can and can’t tolerate all matter when it comes to picking out the right curriculum. If you cannot implement the curriculum, then you will not be successful with it.
It will sit on the shelf.
Information that just sits on the shelf does not get learned by your children.
So how do you know what works for you? Especially if you’ve never done this before? I will admit that some of this is going to be trial and error. You may go through a few curricula before you find one that works for you. But every time you find one that doesn’t, don’t get discouraged. It’s out there. With all the options we have today, I can almost guarantee you’ll find one that will work.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself while you’re looking. These are the same questions I ask myself, even after almost 20 years of homeschooling! As I was thinking through these questions, I found they can be lumped together into different categories, so that’s how I’m going to present them here.
Regular Life Outside Of Homeschooling
- How busy are we as a family?
- How important is it to me that we leave the house daily or do other activities?
- Am I willing to sacrifice this and move to weekly commitments instead of daily?
- Do I have a baby or am I expecting in the school year? How will this influence what I can get done? What am I willing to do in terms of scheduling the baby (or not) around my homeschool?
- Do I have a job or other volunteer position that makes it difficult to teach my children in a more direct way?
My Personality and Strengths
- Do I enjoy pulling pieces together and creating new systems for my family? How much do I enjoy this?
- Creating printables, calendars, worksheets, makes me extremely happy? Or causes me anxiety?
- Do I need a schedule laid out for me or do I enjoy creating my own schedule?
- How stressed will it make me if we get off schedule? Can I roll with it or not?
- Do I know what do to if I buy a scheduled curriculum and can’t handle what they’re asking of us?
- Am I OK not finishing the entire curriculum in one year and skipping things or having it move into the next school year?
- Do I need loose ends tied up neatly?
Finances and Resources
- How much money do I have to spend on curriculum, books and school supplies?
- Am I willing to try to find cheaper alternatives, costing me time? Or do I want to just buy it one time and be done?
- What other things am I willing to sacrifice (if any) in order to buy curriculum?
- List them and talk it over with your husband.
- If this curriculum doesn’t work for me, what is the commitment to it?
- Can I easily get out of a purchase?
- Will I be able to resell it easily?
- Will it be simple to move on from it or is it so involved it will cause confusion for all of us?
How I Feel About School Subjects
- What do I want my children to learn?
- What is the most important thing? History? Latin? Science? How the world works? Real life skills?
- Do I enjoy reading books, am I a strong reader?
- Can I enjoy a curriculum that delves deep into a subject I am unfamiliar with, such as Latin? Am I up for the challenge or is it too much for me right now?
- What is one area that I am lacking in that I want my children to learn?
- What are my weaknesses surrounding this issue and how will this affect how I teach?
Most Important Ways to Spend the Days with My Children
- How important are lazy, simple days with my children?
- Or do I value structure and routine?
- What do I think about children doing what they want, learning what they want?
- What do I think about telling my children what they’re learning regardless of what they think?
- How old are my children? Do they have the ability to make these decisions?
- How hard am I willing to try to keep them on track if we are more relaxed?
- How hard am I willing to work to train them to a more structured day?
- What is important to me?
- What are my values regarding this idea?
Being Honest About My Needs
- What DO I need?
- What do I hope to get from homeschooling my children? What are my goals for myself?
- How can this curriculum meet my needs? Does it give me the creative outlet that I need? Does it provide me with the structure that I need?
- Will I get burnt out using this for whatever reason?
- Does it challenge me in an appropriate way or is it too much for me to deal with right now?
I hope this has helped you! Choosing a curriculum can be daunting and the focus tends to be on the children, rightly so. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that you–the teacher–are just as important. You should also be enjoying your homeschooling days. Excitement is contagious and if you’re excited, your children will be, too.
And on the hard days–because there WILL be some–you at least won’t be questioning your curriculum. You can have the freedom to just acknowledge it was a bad day and tomorrow will be better, but you won’t be tempted to abandon your curriculum over it.
And sometimes we do need to move on from a curriculum, but you can do so with confidence that you’re making the right decision for your entire family, including YOU!
Thank you for your time spent here! I love having you around! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions you ask yourself when you are looking at curriculum.
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