I have a confession. I bought a book – a set of books, really – and they just aren’t working for us. I’ve tried to renegotiate and finagle; I’ve tried to beef them up with additional materials. But the sad, sad fact is they just aren’t what my kids need. It seems I am back to searching for what works.
You’d think after many years of homeschooling this mama would finally have it down, wouldn’t you? After all, once we find a good curriculum it ought to work for the remainder of our schooling experience. Theoretically. However, once you’ve done this a while you realize something. Kids change! What works one year, doesn’t work another. What worked for one child, won’t for another. It can be just a tad frustrating. A tad.
It can be a continual search for materials which best fit our kids needs, and our household budget. How do we determine which curriculum works best? When do we make that investment, and when do we walk away? While we seem to go through this process each year, weighing each child’s needs, there are a few constants our family stands by:
Christian Materials (or at least not anti-Semitic/Christian) – As Christians, we try to ensure our children’s learning is centered on Christ. When at all possible, we purchase materials based on our worldview.
Budget – Is this something I can do myself, find somewhere else for less expensive, or get at a discount? If not…
Longevity – Will this last for only a month or so? Can I make this stretch for more than one child? Some materials are worth the high price, even for only one child; others could be set aside for something better.
Preparation – Will this help my child be ready for whatever future the Lord has prepared for them? One child may need to be challenged in a particular area, whereas another needs something completely different. I want to ensure each child has what they need to fulfill their calling.
Time Consuming – I don’t mean for my kids, I mean for me! Is this curriculum going to take up mounds of my time in the planning, prepping, and teaching? If so, I might wish to regroup.
Challenging – This is for my kids! I want them to be stretched and challenged. (Notice I said challenged and not overwhelmed!) I want our kids to be pushed to achieve more, continuing to find their own limits.
Enjoyment Level – Lastly… While I understand some subjects might be forcefully endured, especially during high school, I like to make their learning as fun as possible. Will my kids enjoy this particular curriculum or is there something which might excite them to learn more?
While there is no perfect method for choosing which curriculum works best for our kids, the checklist above helps guide us in narrowing down our choices. Each curriculum we’ve used, no matter how long we’ve used it, has always taught us something valuable. Even if it’s just to appreciate the beauty of something else… anything else!
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
~ Proverbs 19:21
Your Turn!: What are your criteria for picking new curriculum? Share your list with us and help other homeschooling families in their journey to finding new learning materials!