| |

How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum

Home Science Tools Banner
* This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. *

Did you like this article? If so, please help by sharing it!

One of my biggest pet peeves as a homeschooling mom? When people (specifically non-homeschooling people) ASSUME that they know what homeschooling looks like. And if you’re reading this, that’s probably something we have in common.

People love to put mental boxes around anything that’s a little bit different, rebellious, or wild. The reason that generalizations (even the positive kind)  can be annoying for us homeschooling families is because the secret, wonderful, more complicated truth is this: homeschooling looks different for everyone and that includes what the best homeschool curriculum is for your family. The reality is that there are almost as many different ways to homeschool as there are people who choose to homeschool, and that’s part of why we love it so much!

Of course, there can also be drawbacks to this wonderful benefit. One of the most common struggles that homeschooling families face is the sheer magnitude of available choices when it comes to choosing a homeschool curriculum. Homeschooling parents, especially those who are just starting out, can find themselves truly stumped when it comes to choosing the best homeschool curriculum.

best homeschool curriculum

By “best” homeschool curriculum, what I mean is the curriculum that works best for your family’s unique homeschool journey. There are many wonderful homeschool curriculums out there. In fact, that’s often what makes it so difficult to choose one (or more than one). Even among our online or physical homeschool communities, we’ll ask for recommendations and begin to feel overwhelmed by other people’s “bests.” You’ll hear numerous names of math or reading programs proclaimed as “the one that really works!”  With so many “best” curriculums out there, how do you decide which one is actually the best for you?

What is the Best Homeschool Curriculum?

The truth is that choosing “the best” homeschool curriculum ultimately comes down to three, essential questions:

  • What are your reasons for choosing to homeschool?
  • What are your requirements, as a teacher/ parent, in terms of sanity, time and finances?
  • What do your kids need to thrive?

Once you start to dig into these questions, other (more specific) considerations will start to present themselves! Evaluating these will leave you with a fantastic blueprint for choosing your best homeschool curriculum. Below, you’ll find the above questions, expanded, with our list of some top considerations when choosing the best homeschool curriculum for your family. We hope this helps you to define what your best homeschool curriculum looks like and get the most out of your unique, homeschooling journey!

Considerations for Choosing the Best Homeschool Curriculum

best homeschool curriculum

What are your reasons for choosing to homeschool?

In short, “What’s your homeschooling why?” Very few people decide to homeschool without a definable reason–or several of them! Stepping back to consider your initial decision(s) for homeschooling will help you to find the best homeschool curriculum that fits your needs. Below are some common reasons that people choose to homeschool their kids, and some ways that might impact your choice of curriculum.

Playing an active role in moral and spiritual development.

The majority of homeschooling parents want their child’s education to include moral development and/or spiritual growth, and they want to be an active part of that! If this describes you, then you may want to consider homeschool curriculums that are written from a perspective that will support your moral and religious values. Because this is such a common reason for homeschooling, there are many out there which can support you in teaching your child/children!

Prioritizing family life.

You like your kids and want to spend time with them! For many families, the choice to homeschool is as simple as that. Especially over the past few years, more families are making the decision to spend meaningful time together. If quality time is at the center of your homeschool wish list, then the best homeschool curriculum may be one that is interactive and hands-on. You may want to do as many educational subscription boxes, field trips, and creative projects as you can get your hands on, and there are curriculums and add-ons out there to support that.

best homeschool curriculum

Wanting to Travel as a Family.

Or maybe traveling together is the way you choose to prioritize family time, and homeschooling is the means to that end. If you or your spouse have the ability to work remotely and want to take your family on the road, then maybe a portable, all-in-one type of curriculum (or even a virtual curriculum) will suit your needs best. Did you know Trish (the owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers) also owns Homeschool Travel Adventures? She has been organizing homeschool educational travel for nine years. Be sure to check out her upcoming trips if you are wanting to experience fun educational travel with a group! Her mission is to help you make some wonderful homeschool memories while having some fun with other homeschool families.

Adjusting for Special Learning Needs.

Children learn at different paces and have different needs, and that’s one reason many parents love homeschooling. There are many ways that your child/ren’s unique learning needs can help you choose your homeschool curriculum, whether you need to seek out a special reading program to help with dyslexia, an advanced level of mathematics paired age-determined humanities, or you simply desire to teach to your child’s learning style (more on that in a minute).

What are your needs as a teacher/parent?

If your homeschooling WHY is the dream board for your homeschooling journey, then consider this section to be the brass tacks holding that dream board in place! You have practical needs as a parent and teacher that play a role in the success of whatever homeschooling curriculum you choose. In choosing the best homeschool curriculum(s) for your family, it’s important to be honest with yourself and consider not just how you want your homeschooling to look, but how it needs to look for your personal success (and sanity!)

What are the requirements in your state?

It doesn’t get more pragmatic than this. You need to know how much documentation your state is going to require for homeschooling so you can choose a curriculum(s) that allows you to successfully keep up and document accordingly. Some states (like the one in which I live) simply require annual documentation that we are homeschooling and quick write-up of what curriculum(s) are being used. This allows me to be eclectic in my curriculum choices, and document how I see fit. Other states have incredibly detailed rules and regulations, though, and this may mean you need a more organized curriculum with a built-in system for documentation. If you’re new to homeschooling and not sure how to start, check out Homeschool Laws by State on the HSLDA Website. This will be an enormous help as you choose your best homeschool curriculum.

Are you an organized person? (Or do you want to be?)

I am not super organized, and I don’t particularly strive to be. However, homeschooling curriculums can become quickly become disorganized and stress you out if you’re type A and/or you have multiple kids and/or an array of eclectic curriculums filling up every shelf of your home. If that’s you, or if you’re in a high-regulation state for homeschooling, it could be helpful to choose an all-in-one curriculum that is going to help you keep things organized and neat. I used Sonlight when my daughter first started homeschooling. I absolutely adored the literature-driven curriculum, although I did not fully take advantage of the organization components and schedule (which were included.) This would be a great component for someone who prioritizes staying organized, though, because it’s built-in!

Many homeschooling families mix and match curriculums across subjects, and this can allow you to try different approaches, albeit in a less organized fashion. If that works for you and does not bother you (I’m in that category) then that’s great (and often cheaper)! Whichever way you lean: if using a particular curriculum stresses you out too much, it’s not worth it! Know yourself and your needs as a teacher and parent. You have a lot going on, and your sanity matters!

best homeschool curriculum

How much time and money do you have to invest?

These are two super practical, but all-important, considerations! How much time do you see yourself actively teaching each day? Do you need a curriculum that’s going to facilitate an independent work style for your learners, or do you desire (and have time for) ones that involve some one-on-one time? Some curriculums, like Abeka, offer complete video lessons, which can be a great resource for super-busy parents.  Personally, I have found that The Good and The Beautiful is a good baseline curriculum for us to combine with our elective curriculums because it involves some one-on-one every day, along with independent work. We also do Classical Conversations (which is affordable and looks more like a co-op in my area).

Aside from our weekly meet-up with other homeschoolers, this one is more hands-off for me as a teacher. We use an inexpensive app for reviewing material throughout the week and supplementing with discussion and videos. That doesn’t require much time on my end, although it certainly could if I wanted it to. Everyone’s level of time commitment is going to look different!

Also, do you have a budget for the curriculum? Are you interested in free resources, or inexpensive ones? There are some totally free options out there! Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool Curriculum is a popular, free curriculum that many homeschool families love.  The Good and the Beautiful is also free to print (and it’s not too expensive to order the books).

What do your kids need to thrive?

Of course, this is one of the most important things to ask when choosing your homeschool curriculum! You know your children best, so you know what they need! Many of the needs your children have, within the context of your family as a whole, may have already been discussed here. However, here are a few more factors to consider when choosing your best homeschool curriculum:

Group of happy children lying on green grass outdoors in spring park

How many children do you have, and do they learn well together?

In other words, can your kids successfully share the curriculum for subjects like history and science, even if they are different ages? If that works for your dynamics, sharing these curriculums is definitely one way to make your homeschool more fun, engaging, and efficient. A literature-based curriculum, such as Sonlight, could be a good solution for joining forces for history! Science Shepherd would also be simple to adapt and use for kids of different ages. Classical Conversations curriculum may also be used at different levels (and re-used later on). Some curriculum companies even offer family plans to help you save money. CTCMath is one that offers a low-price family plan option for online math that includes all the grade levels for each child. This also saves money: win-win!

Learning Styles

Getting to choose your learning approach/curriculum based on learning styles is such a cool homeschooling opportunity because it can really help your kids thrive. Teaching to a child’s learning style can make definitely learning more accessible and fun! If you aren’t quite sure what your child’s learning style is, check out this article. Not only does it include a learning style quiz, but it also has teaching tips and links to different curriculums based on learning styles! If you’re on the hunt for a homeschooling curriculum that will fit your child’s learning style best, this is a must-read.

Fun Factor!

Did you catch me using the word “fun” in this section? It’s because learning should be! When kids enjoy learning (at least as much as possible), they learn the best! Consider what would make a curriculum “fun” for your unique learner, or learners. Some kids really love blasting through worksheets. Others thrive on learning in the midst of quality time: snuggled up with mom or dad and reading a book. Other kids really enjoy having the ability to learn flexibly and independently. All of these things can overlap with some of the other considerations listed here, and ultimately shape what your “best” homeschool curriculum looks like! Need some ideas for ways to make your homeschool more fun this year? Check out this article for 20 creative ideas!

We hope these considerations and links help you in your search for the BEST homeschool curriculum–your best homeschooling curriculum, that is! What are some curriculums that you love, and how did your unique homeschooling needs play a role in helping you find them?

 | Website

Katie Gustafson has been a member of the world of “weird, unsocialized homeschoolers” for a long time–first as an alumnus and now as a homeschooling mom to a fiercely fun little girl! She’s very into anything creative, especially writing, dancing, and painting. She’s also particularly passionate about literature and owns more books than she will probably ever be able to read. However, she reassures herself with the belief that, in the event of a digital apocalypse, she’s cultivating a much-needed physical library for future generations. Katie is happy to contribute articles to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Moms and Sparketh. She also has a personal blog on writewhereuare.com.

Did you like this article? If so, please help by sharing it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.