How to…Choose Homeschool Curriculum

by Amy Vickrey, MSE, MEd

 

               When you first make the decision to homeschool, it can be SO overwhelming.  When my parents first homeschooled one of my siblings in the late 90’s, there were a sum total of about three curriculum companies to choose from.  Today, there are resources everywhere, for every budget.  So how do you pick?  Here are my recommendations

  1. Spend some time just exploring how your child learns. Look for free worksheets, inexpensive workbooks, Pinterest activities, homeschool bloggers offering activity ideas, and/or free trials for online curriculum.
  2. Really consider your child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and personality. Find curriculum that will help your child grow their strengths as well as work on weaknesses.  Finding curriculum that is interesting to your child means they will be more engaged and more willing to complete it.  Personality is important, especially consider how long your child is willing to work on an assignment, do they prefer to work more independently, with maybe occasional help from you?  Do they want you there, teaching them each step of the way?
  3. Consider YOUR strengths, weaknesses, interests and personality. There are some curriculum I can’t stand but others love.  If I don’t’ like a curriculum, I’m less likely to use it, or my dread of doing that subject might affect my child’s willingness to do that subject.  Find something that works for BOTH of you, or as close to it as you can find.
  4. Try out one subject at a time. When you try something, think about what works, what doesn’t and how easy is it to make that curriculum work for you.  If you know someone who has it, borrow it to try it before you buy it!
  5. Don’t rush the process. It’s ok if you only work on math or reading for a while.  Finding something you and your child will use is more important than rushing to find curriculum. 
  6. Give yourself permission to change your mind. If it’s not working, change what your using or how you are using it.  You DO NOT have to use everything that comes with a curriculum if it’s not a good fit for your child!  Use what works, and move on.  If you still need to cover important skills, find something else that works better.
  7. Engage as many senses as possible. The more senses you engage, the more pathways are created to that information.  This means your child has more pathways to access the same information.  Movement, taste, smell, hearing it, seeing, these can all give your child additional ways to store and access the information you are teaching. 
  8. Have fun! While basics are important, so are all the “extras” your child enjoys.  Don’t forget to include some fun topics, fieldtrips, activities, cooking together, playing together, go have lunch together (on a school day!), or even just going for a walk.  Being able to set your own schedule and routine is important.  Make homeschool work for you!