There are so many different curriculum options available that it can easily become overwhelming. Picking curriculum is one of the most important parts of homeschooling, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming! It is easy to feel like you need to use the most expensive or the most popular product, but you don’t need to. Finding the curriculum that works the best for your family will make your days a lot smoother.
Most people will tell you to first look at your child’s learning style when you are picking curriculum. I completely disagree with that. Yes, your child’s learning style is important, but your teaching style is more important.
Find Your Teaching Style
The first thing you need to decide is what you want your school day to look like.
Do you see yourself reading lots of books and keeping worksheets and tests to a minimum? Do you picture a lot of workbooks and writing? How much technology do you want to include? Would an online program work for your family? Do you picture weekly or monthly themes where all of your child’s subjects will relate to one topic? Are you comfortable with teaching all of the subjects that need to be covered? Does the thought of teaching of 7th grade math make you sweat? Are you religious, and if so, do you want curriculum based upon your beliefs, or would you prefer a secular curriculum? Are you crafty? Do you want to do time consuming projects like; building salt dough maps, making castles out of sugar cubes, or building a wigwam? Maybe you want to mix a variety of different options.
You don’t need to know all of the answers right away, because most curriculum can be tweaked to fit your preferences. But you should be honest with yourself. If you hate messes and don’t like projects sitting all over your house, then picking a history program with a lot of projects isn’t going to be a good fit for you.
If you are unsure about what you like, take this quiz and see which type of homeschooler you are most like.
Decide on a Budget
You can easily spend over $1000 per child on curriculum. Or you can use the library and internet and school for almost nothing. Either way will work, but most people fall somewhere in the middle. We have a tight budget so I can’t spend very much. The most I have spent is about $175 and the least was under $50 for one child. When piking curriculum set a budget and stick to it. Drooling over an expensive program that you can’t afford is just wasting your time.
When you are deciding on your budget there are a few things to think about.
- Will it be better to buy materials or get them from the library? Think about possible late fees and the possibility that you might not get the books when you need them if someone else has checked them out.
- Are e-books a better value? They may be, but think about the cost of ink and paper, and the time that you will need to spend printing things off.
- Is there a subject that you don’t want to or can’t teach? It may be worth spending a larger amount on a good writing, math or science program if your child needs it. It might be worth it to spend a large portion of your budget on one subject and then find free or low cost items for others.
- Don’t forget to include funds for things other than curriculum. You may want to join a co-op or have your child take a class some where. You should also think about field trips, extra curricular activities, and any online subscriptions. (Like Always Ice Cream, HelpTeaching.com, Schoolhouseteachers.com, SuperTeacherWorksheets.com, IXL.com or record keeping programs.)
- How much free time will you have? There are thousands of free worksheets, unit studies, and curriculum ideas, videos, and lessons available online. It can take s a lot of time to find what you need. Is your time and effort worth the savings?
These answers may change, but it is good to keep them in mind while picking curriculum.
Figure Out Your Child’s Learning Style
The next step in picking curriculum is to figure out your child’s learning style. Are they a visual learner who needs to see things? Do they learn best when they hear things? If so they are an auditory learner. Maybe they are a kinesthetic learner who learns by doing things. You can take a quiz to see which style fits your kids the best.
Check Your State Laws
Now that you have figured out your teaching style, set a budget, and learned your child’s learning style it is time to see what you need to teach. Each state is different. Some make you get curriculum approved or require you to teach specific subjects. You may need to teach a certain number of days or hours. Once you know what is required it is time to start looking at curriculum.
Pick an Area of Study
Now you need to decide if you want to go with an all inclusive curriculum, or if you will piece together the topics your child will study. If you decide to go with a program like Heart of Dakota or a program that is leveled by grade, then you simply pick the level that matches your child’s age and ability level. If not, then you should pick a time period in history and a discipline of science that you want to teach.
Once you know what you want to study and you have a basic idea of the type of curriculum that will work for you, it is time to look around. Use your searching tools and check online sites like Rainbow Resources and Christian Book to see the type of products available. Narrow down the number of curriculum options that meet your needs to three or four items per subject. Write them down along with the prices from each site. Then comes the fun part of picking curriculum, reading reviews.
Just type in the name of the product followed by review into Google and you will find dozens of reviews from homeschool bloggers. Read a few reviews for each item you are thinking about. Look for balanced reviews that tell the good and bad of each product and then decide if the pros and cons of the product will work well for your family. Remember just because it works or doesn’t work for one family doesn’t mean you will have the same result. But something that didn’t work for my child because she doesn’t enjoy programs with a lot of reading, may be the perfect fit for your child who loves to devour books.
The last step of picking curriculum is to order, download, print off, or pick up you products and get ready for a year of fun. Remember if the curriculum that you buy doesn’t seem to work out perfectly, it is ok to make adjustments, tweak it, or change to something different. The longer you homeschool the easier it will be to find the best option for your family.
Our Curriculum Choices
If you need a little inspiration, here are our curriculum choices over the years.
- 5th Grade – We did the Prairie Primer, a unit study based on the Little House Series
- 6th Grade – We studied Ancient History and Earth Science
- 7th Grade – We studied the Middle Ages and Biology
- 8th Grade – We are studying Modern History and Physics/Chemistry
This post is part of the Back to School Blog Hop! Stop by other blogs to see their advice on picking curriculum.