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Choosing Curriculum


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One of the biggest questions new homeschooling parents have is, “How do I choose curriculum?” With so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming. The first thing to remember, though, is that there is no one perfect curriculum, there is only the best fit for your family. My family may have had great success with XYZ math book, while it would be a huge flop for your family. Your best friend may have hated ABC phonics program, but it might be just the ticket for your young learner. So, with so much out there, how do you choose what is right for your family?

One of the first things to consider is your child(ren)’s learning style(s) and your teaching style. For example, if your child is a visual learner, workbooks might be the best curriculum choice for him. However, if your child is a kenesthetic learner, you’ll want a more hands-on approach. Your voracious reader might enjoy a literature-based curriculum. Do you, as a teacher, need workbooks to stay on track or feel a sense of completion? Maybe you like the sound of a child-led approach, but you need to feel a little control as the teaching parent. If so, unit studies might be the way to go, letting your child pick the topic, while you choose the content.

Once you narrow down your curriculum choices based on your child’s learning style and your teaching style, you’re ready to see what is available to you. My first suggestion is to learn as much as you can about your choices and see what others have experienced with them.

Visit the Rainbow Resource website and request a catalog. The “Sears Roebuck” catalog of the homeschooling world, Rainbow Resource offers a huge selection of curriculum choices. However, the treasure of the catalog is its product reviews. Each product has a detailed review from someone who has actually used the curriculum.

Next, be sure to visit Homeschool Reviews where homeschooling families have written their own reviews of curriculum that they’ve used, telling why they did or didn’t like it and how it worked with their child.

Check out homeschool supply websites, such as Learning Things. Although these places often have really nice, professional websites, they’re often “mom and pop” businesses run by homeschooling families who are selling the things that were really useful for their own families.

Ask! Ask other homeschoolers what they’ve used, whether they liked or disliked it and, most importantly, why. The very reason that a certain piece of curriculum didn’t work for one family may be the reason that it will work for yours. Word-of-mouth is a great way to find wonderful curriculum treasures.

Get hands-on! Whenever you can, look through the curriculum choices you’re considering. New and used curriculum fairs, new and used book stores, teacher supply stores, and homeschool stores are all great sources for homeschool curriculum. Our local Lifeway Christian Store has a nice supply of homeschool materials. Another great source for getting hands-on are your fellow homeschoolers. Most homeschooling families will welcome you to look through the curriculum that they use. We love to talk about what’s working for us and why!

No matter how much research you do, trial and error is inevitable. What sounds great on a website may turn out to be a poor fit for your family. So, I buy used when I can. It’s a whole lot easier to toss something that you got for half-price! You can also sell the materials that have not been a good fit for your family. I prefer Vegsource to Ebay simply because it’s run flea market style and you simply pay the price that someone is asking, rather than bidding on something a lot of people may want. This style often helps to keep the price down.

A final thought it to start with the basics and use your library for everything else. A child can explore endless aspects of history and science — even foreign languages — with a library card while making sure that the math, reading and grammar materials you’ve chosen are the right fit. Once you get the basics down, you can add in curriculum for the other areas of study as you find things that look interesting to you and your children.

Websites to try…

Peace Hill Press

Bright Ideas Press

Alpha Omega

Apologia

Easy Grammar Systems

Scaredy Cat Reading Systems

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Kris,
    We have been homeschooling for 7 yrs. now and I had a question about Easy Grammar. If i’m looking into it for next year and my oldest will be in the 7th grade do I go with Easy Grammar Plus? I see that there is now different books for 8th grade through 12th grade. Does the Easy Grammar Plus go all the way through 12th grade?
    Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Easy Grammar Plus is for middle and high school. I think the idea is that kids shift away from learning grammar rules and get into application in high school. The 8th-12th grade books, the Ultimate Series, are set up like the Daily Grams books and are essentially for keeping the grammar rules fresh in students’ minds. We are currently using Easy Grammar Plus (6th and 8th grade). I plan to work through it slowly with my kids until we’re finished, then, just use the Ultimate Series through the remainder of high school. Hope that helps!

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