Homeschooling 101: Curriculum Conundrum

More than halfway through; step six is to choose the curriculum that fits your child’s needs.

……

Homeschooling101All the steps that went before this one were fairly easy-going. They consisted of straight, simple steps which got you to a definite point. Unfortunately, curriculum just isn’t that trouble-free. Curriculum can be quite a conundrum!

Just Google-ing ‘homeschool curriculum’ makes the mind boggle with how many sites, downloads, and pieces of advice there are on the world-wide web. Speaking to a manufacturer can be hard enough, much less communicating with all of them. So how do you find the right ‘fit’ for your child? Honest communication, along with some trial-and-error.

Before spending mass amounts of money on choosing a homeschool curriculum, do a little research first. With a great deal of prayer, your ‘educational philosophy’, and your child’s learning style in mind, start narrowing down your choices of curriculum by taking a look at some ‘standard’ methods of homeschooling and see if any of them fit your needs. If you are unsure which methods already exist, try THIS link and explore what each has to offer.

Knowing which curriculum you might be interested in, do another (very specific) Google search to confirm your suspicions. “Which language arts curriculum is best for visual learners?” The more specific your words, the less weeding through sites you will need to do.

Once you have an idea of where you are headed, talk to some homeschooling families you already know. Try to find a family whose child has learning styles similar to your own. Ask them what worked and what didn’t. Ask them if they have any recommendations. While you’re at it; ask them if you can actually take a look at the curriculum and get a feel for it yourself.

New School Books

More often than not, you will find most homeschoolers to be a bit eclectic. We use one company for language arts, another for arithmetic, and something completely different for science. Knowing how your child learns and what you want out of their education will narrow down these choices and help you pick the right fit for each subject.

And… If at first you don’t succeed; try, try again!

Don’t be discouraged if what you thought was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What looks good in theory, isn’t always practical. If possible, borrow some curriculum over summer break and give it a go. This will save you a few bucks if it doesn’t work out. If you don’t know anyone with that material, look online for some great deals; Amazon and Ebay are wonders for saving dough. This way, when things don’t work out, it’s no big deal.

Again, I wish there was a fool-proof way to pick the right curriculum (the first time, every time), but there isn’t. However, with a few guidelines in place and a prayerful mind, it won’t take long for you to finally find what works.

And if the shoe fits; wear it!

Veteran Parents: How did you come across the ‘right fit’ in curriculum?

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12 thoughts on “Homeschooling 101: Curriculum Conundrum

  1. Christian Book Distributors and Rainbow Resources are other places I have got good deals on curriculum. If there is a Homeschool group(s) in your area they sometimes have a used curriculum book sale. I’ve picked up some great stuff at these sales. I was lucky to already know a few homeschoolers and they each allowed me to visit their home and see school happen. I learned so much from each of these ladies and all gave me some very simple and good counsel. When I researched curriculum I started reading blog reviews. Honestly, I usually shy away from the bloggers with adds, affiliations, and stores. There are bloggers who will tell you all about why certain curriculums worked (or didn’t) with their families and these have been helpful to me. If you are considering a curriculum I would suggest seeing if there is a Facebook and Yahoo group for the curriculum you are interested in. I have found the people on these to be very very helpful.

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  2. My suggestion is to find something you like and stick with it. Don’t change because your friend found something new or you read a great review. Be confident in your choices.

    And the mot expensive choice is not always the best. When my kids were small, my husband was unemployed for 4 months. My curriculum was workbooks at Walmart and books I checked out from the library. It wasn’t the most convenient way to homeschool but it worked.

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  3. Oh thanks for this post and the comments so far. I am homeschooling a very advanced 3 year old and am trying to quickly wade my way through getting the right materials for his age, ability and learning style.

    I’ll be keeping an eye out on this for more advice that I can use

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  4. we share the same thoughts! being a first-time homeschooling mom, i found an array of curriculum out there. to me, aside from what you have already mentioned, my support group plays a role, too. we are glad to be able to meet other homeschoolers (also our spiritual family)on a weekly basis for their music, arts and physical education activities. catching up and encouraging one another helps a lot to me!

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  5. We utilize our local Home School Group for feedback on curriculum, previewing curriculum and opportunities to buy, sell and trade materials. I highly recommend finding a local Home School Group and becoming involved for support.

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  6. I really enjoyed reading your post. For me, mistakes have marked the road to wisdom. I think your posting made a very important point. You can choose a great curriculum, but it might not be suited to your child’s learning style.
    I believe that to homeschool effectively, you need to be willing to identify mistakes and take corrective action promptly. If you choose wrong, do not compound a wrong choice by sticking with it too long. Such behavior only makes for a bad year for you and for your child.
    For me, the most important first step in selecting curriculum is to begin with the right questions. I try to look at my daughter and myself very dispassionately in order to identify how she learns, and how I prefer to teach. One of the great advantages of homeschooling over traditional schools is the ability to tailor teaching to one student’s learning style. I try very hard to not sacrifice this advantage.
    Also important to me is finding a solution that meets my goals for outcomes but balances with our need for a sane family life. I spend a lot of time reading curriculum contents trying to figure out what we could reasonably accomplish in a year. I tend to set really high goals. Once I find a curriculum that matches my outcome objectives, I examine the lesson plans in an effort to ascertain if they necessitate a schedule with which our household could not realistically live. Sometimes I need to reconsider my objectives to make life sane. Usually, I keep the bar pretty high and accept a certain level of insanity. This is a personal decision on my part and one that is not right for all homeschoolers; but for me, the big aggressive goals are part of the challenge and pleasure of homeschooling. Fundamentally, if you can’t outperform what your child would experience in a traditional school, you have no business keeping your child home. Again, that is just my personal viewpoint and I admit to a competitive nature.
    Your posting made me reflect on another consideration; time. It is very easy, in an insular home environment to feel like a failure because you so rarely accomplish all you set out to do in a day (whether the objectives were set by you or by an out-of –the-box lesson plan). It is the rare day on which you actually accomplish even most of your objectives. Teachers in traditional schools probably experience similar anxiety. For the first couple of years, the clock is an enormous source of pressure. Each day’s incomplete objectives feel like failures; and a sense of compounding failure can creep into the homeschool atmosphere.
    After a couple of years, my perception of time has slowly changed. I now appreciate that what I accomplish in a day generally exceeds what occurs in traditional schools (whether or not I did everything I set out to do). It has become clear to me that my child’s learning should never be measured by what happens on any given day. Learning is a cumulative arc resulting from working at things incrementally every day. Viewed over an extended period of months and years, the learning arc has been fantastic to observe. This is another advantage I see in the choice to homeschool. A traditional teacher usually only sees a child grow over a single school year. The homeschooler gets a much better sense of their child’s true growth and development.
    My final thought is this. The choice to homeschool is a great first step. Everyone I know makes mistakes. When you make a wrong choice in curriculum (and you will); fix it. There are tons of choices on the market and there is no single right answer. Overtime, everyone figures out the combination of solutions that best meets their family’s unique needs. Thanks for putting this post up (and I hope my comment is not way more than you were looking for 🙂 ).

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  7. Pingback: Revisiting Homeschooling 101 | A Homeschool Mom

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