How do I choose the right homeschool curriculum? What’s the best curriculum for homeschooling? Whether you are starting in preschool or high school, teaching 1 kid or 7, choosing the right homeschool curriculum can seem overwhelming. There are literally thousands of options, and you may be terrified of choosing the wrong one. I don’t want you to feel that way so I’m sharing these 7 no-fail steps to finding the perfect fit for your family.
My guess is that you are new to homeschooling and maybe just trying to figure it all out. You are feeling a mix of delight and overwhelm right about now. I get it, been there done that. Trust me, it does get easier and you will look back and laugh at yourself one day. You may also be starting to realize the enormous selection of materials, learning styles and methods to homeschool out there. So let’s clear some of those concerns up right now.
First things first, I just want to give you one HUGE piece of advice. The first year, please. please, please, do not go and buy a huge all in one box curriculum on a whim. Although this may work for some children, chances are your children are not going to all have the same learning style.
Unless of course you have laid it at the feet of Jesus and you have a revelation on what to use, just wait and pray. There are a ton of great homeschooling books out there. I encourage you to start adding a few of them to your home library ASAP. My favorite is Educating the Whole Hearted Child.
When I started out homeschooling I purchased the whole shabang, while it was great to have, I didn’t even need it. I found so many free homeschooling resources and put together my own curriculum the following year, which worked out much better for me figuring out each child’s learning style along with my teaching style. Wish I had done this the first year.
Throughout the years, I have used several different methods and I do believe that has worked for us. I have used Sonlight a full literature Christian curriculum for 3 different years, although I love their resources, this can get a bit pricey.
I have used Heart of Dakota a couple years which is similar to Sonlight, but a lot cheaper and I absolutely love that this is all Christ-centered curriculum. My favorite by far!
One year we used Easy Peasy all-in-one Christian homeschool, which I highly recommend because it is free and also a very comprehensive program! This is not one of those programs that are free and low quality, it truly is tremendous and is also her ministry for the Lord.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that they do most of it on their own, this can be perfect for a lot of families though. We enjoy sitting together at the table or on the couch reading and learning together, this kind of computer-based learning didn’t go along with our style.
Throughout all of this changing and swapping curriculum, I have finally learned what works for my family — a little bit of everything, hahaha! We are Christ-Centered Eclectic family, which in a nutshell means we do a lot of different Christ-centered curricula and methods together.
Now that I have that out of the way let’s get to those steps I promised you.
7 STEPS TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CURRICULUM FOR HOMESCHOOL
STEP #1) Pray!
Girl you better pray! Hahaha! No, but seriously without this where would we be.
God has called you to do this so He has also placed everything within you to go through it successfully. Cast your cares and ask for guidance. He will direct you. You just have to ask.
STEP #2) What are your state laws?
Hopefully you already know your state laws, but if you don’t this is a very important step. The best place to find your laws is HSLDA. Click on your state and you can find out what your laws are. Some states have specific requirements per subject, it’s always best to check this before deciding on your curriculum.
Your state may require certain standards per subject, written assessments at the end of the year, or even testing to be completed, while some states like mine only require me to keep track of 180 days of attendance. So it’s absolutely important for you to be in the know of what laws apply to you.
STEP #3) What’s your budget?
Keep in mind that this is a yearly cost and it can get easy to go over budget, keep your budget at all costs. Make a plan and stick to it. There are so many free homeschooling resources if you have no room in the budget also.
STEP #4) What’s your family’s natural rhythm?
Are you a WAHM? Working mom? traveling mom? Missionary Mom? – What is going to really work with your family? Do your kids have a lot of extracurricular activities they participate in? How much time do you have to prepare lessons? All these things are key in finding the right fit.
Find your family style, figure out how many days of the week, hours of the day you will be committing to homeschooling. To give you an idea, we do school 5 days a week from 9:30ish to lunch and then we are done. Some only do school 4 days a week.
It is really important here to find your family rhythm and follow that. Don’t watch the clock. It’s not about how much time you have done school, but that you have done it well. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool families or the public school system. Just find YOUR rhythm and let it flow. Following more of a routine than a schedule works really well.
STEP #5) Get to know your child and their learning Style.
Ok, so you may or may not have heard that kids learn differently. If you have several kids, you may be thinking how in the world do I choose a homeschool curriculum with several different learning styles? Trust me, I had these thoughts in the beginning too. My daughters are all different, and therefore learn differently.
Public schools tend to have a set curriculum for all the students. They have one way to teach and everyone has to learn that way. It’s kinda like trying to put a square peg in a circle hole. The squares cannot thrive because they are forced to be a circle.
There are several different learning styles. But the four most common learning styles are Visual/Spatial Learners, Auditory Learners, Tactile Learners, and Kinesthetic Learners. Just like with personality, no one is usually completely 100% one learning style. Usually at least two with one learning style being their dominant style. Check out this complete learning style guide for more details on each one.
Another important factor is, getting to know their interests & their heart, this is homeschool so why not find out what they want to learn and build upon that? If Suzy has an interest in Llamas, find a unit study or just go to the library and get some Llama books. Most librarians will put together a pack of books for you. Just call and ask them to round up 10 books on a specific topic and then go pick them up.
STEP #6) What’s your homeschooling method of choice?
To successfully choose curriculum for homeschool you need to know your method. This is basically your style of schooling or your approach- Mine is eclectic.
Eclectic is just a fancy word for a mixture of curriculum with an array of different methods and learning styles.
For instance, our current mixture is something like this – for online math – Teaching Textbooks/CTCMath, YouTube Videos for Science/History/Geography/Art/PE, The Good and The Beautiful – Handwriting/more History/LA, Typesy for keyboarding skills, Easy Peasy for Bible and Computer skills.
Of course we don’t do all of those every single day, but that is pretty much everything we hit in a week.
Other homeschooling methods include, Traditional, Charlotte Mason Method, Classical, Montessori, Unit studies, unschooling, lifeschooling etc. Find what suits your family. I wrote a detailed post describing each homeschooling method.
STEP #7) Take a test drive with free curriculum
There are a lot of homeschooling curriculums that offer free trials or sample pages. Test the waters of each method you can find free resources on all of these methods, I recommend doing a year of homeschool experimenting to dig into each style to find out which resources are going to mesh with you and your family. This in itself will be a learning experience for all.
Once you have gone through all the steps above, seek God again and again every year until the peace washes over you, then you will know you have made the right choice. Remember one thing, homeschool is not school, so don’t try to make it look like the traditional version of school. Relax and follow the nature flow of your family. You got this!
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How do you decide on the best homeschooling curriculum for your family? Let me know and be sure to pin this.
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Forest Rose is a God Loving, Blessed Wife, & Relaxed, Eclectic Homeschooling Mama to 3 girls – 11, 13, & 15 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She’s passionate about lifting moms out of the homeschooling trenches that are discouraged, overwhelmed or feeling alone or isolated. Her hope is to point them to Christ and equip them to rise up with a new found hope and joy within, that He alone can provide. Besides blogging, she also loves hanging out at her exclusive Facebook Group “Homeschooling 101 Community” that she started to help new homeschoolers thrive.