One of the many common questions about home education is “How do you pick a curriculum?” This is not an unexpected question because there are soooooo many options out there. And they all fit a need somewhere in the home education community. So, how do you go about picking a curriculum when there are so many choices?
1 – Consider Your Comfort With Teaching
If you are comfortable teaching and creating, you don’t need a big box curriculum. You might do better piecing together your own curriculum for your children. If you are not comfortable and want it all planned out for you or all of the pieces of it chosen for you, a box just might be the best choice. If you are somewhere in between, you could pick a company that does the language arts and you find your own combo for history and science. Or pick a company that has a good history base that incorporates language arts, literature, or more. Many of the big name companies have lesson plans you can purchase to go along with their books so you may choose to go that way.
This year we are using both a big box curriculum (9th grade), piecing our own (11th grade), and a history spine with language arts, literature and Bible built in to which we will add math, writing, and science. The reason? Our girls are all different, which leads to the next thing to consider.
2 – Consider Your Child
Some children need a huge amount of structure. Some need a huge amount of creativity. Some need the freedom of rabbit trail following. These will help direct you to whether you can pick a big box curriculum and just change it around to fit the flexibility needed or whether you would be better off piecing your own curriculum together.
When our girls were younger, we did the piecing together because it allowed us the freedom to move at their pace, at their interest level. If we were working on something and their interest level just belly-flopped, we moved on to something else. We are not in a state that requires extensive documentation so we have the freedom to do that. Piecing together our own curriculum allowed us to do a lot of unit studies with things that were interesting or related to some trip we might be about to take. We could allow life to really direct what we were doing in education.
Now that the girls are older, they have to hit some requirements for college entrance so we are being much more deliberate about choices. We are sticking things out, even when we piece together the curriculum. We might have two or three things work together to make a high school credit. (Example: studying videos and pictures on Pinterest to get ideas for bullet journals + using a hand-lettering book to practice new ideas + creating two complete bullet journals = 1 high school art credit) We also have chosen for our 9th grader this year to use a big box curriculum. It fits her personality and her needs at this point so it works for us. Our 6th grader needed a bit more structure this year to foster more independence so the history spine that we picked does that for her.
3 – Consider Interest
Once again, this is a huge factor in choosing curriculum. If you have a student who loves science, you need to start at your science choice so that the interest is fed. From there, the other subjects can fall into place but you spine is science. If you have a student who loves writing, you would want to start by finding a strong language arts/writing program and build from that choice. Some of the big box curriculums have these things and if you know, for example, that you want an IEW program for writing, you can eliminate any curriculum that do not include that. It really helps to narrow down options.
4 – Remember: It Isn’t Permanent
Nothing you choose is etched in stone. Even if you have to stick it out for the entire school year, you can change next year. If you are in a state like I am, you can change as soon as you are certain that what you are using is just not the best choice. Don’t beat yourself up if you have picked something that just isn’t right. Put it aside and try again. We went through probably 8 math programs before we found the ones that we KNEW fit the girls well. And, even then, the math we used for Algebra I did not have an Algebra II program so we had to find something new the next year. So don’t be afraid of change. Change often brings about the best results you can imagine in the long run.
5 – Take A Break If Needed
Sometimes, curriculum choices and planning can be overwhelming. So take a break. Whether that is getting a tall glass of iced tea (hey, it is summer in Texas and 100 degrees!) or taking a quick run (I’ll just walk on the treadmill if that’s okay with you; see previous statement about Texas and temperature). Do what you need to get your thinking refocused because planning the year a bit really does help it to go smoothly. You don’t need everything planned out unless you are just that type of personality. (See number 2 about considering the child; she needed it all planned out for the whole year and it is going great for her!)
Curriculum choices does not have to be overwhelming and it all starts with thinking a few things through to narrow your choices before you even start. And, don’t forget that there are plenty of home educators out there who want to help you succeed so find a place and ask a question. I’ll gladly help you out. Leave a question in the comments or shoot me an email by heading over to the contact me page. I’ll do my best to answer and if I don’t know the answer, I know a slew of homeschool moms and dads on the Crew that will help, too.
Speaking of the Crew, head over to the Crew blog to find the linkup for today’s topic of Curriculum. There are suggestions of curriculum, curriculum favorites, and much, much more being shared in the blog hop today.
Yesterday was about Resources and Supplies. You can find a few of those below.
- Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses shares My Must Have Homeschool Resources.
- Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach shares Homeschooling Must Have Resources and Supplies in Our Home.
- Annette @ A Net in Time shares Nature Study Bring Alongs.
- Jessica @ My Homeschool with a View shares My Top 5 Homeschool Supplies.
- Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag shares Must Have Supplies … For Mom.
- Vicki B @ Tumbleweed News shares Homeschool Must Have Resources / Supplies.
- Yvonne @ The Life We Build shares her Top 5 Favorite Homeschool Supplies and Resources.
Lori, At Home.