The age old question and first thing new homeschoolers search for when they decide to homeschool…curriculum. Choosing Homeschool Curriculum can be overwhelming. Learn why it’s not the first thing I recommend.
“Parent’s may have just decided to homeschool but it’s the first question that they ask on this new journey. New homeschoolers have likely spent many years in public school, and are used to someone else choosing curriculum for their child.
They may have never even explored school textbooks, alternate ways of learning, or much else about education for their child. Now faced with the overwhelming task of choosing the very thing that seems most important to their child’s education; it’s easy to feel lost and unsure where to begin.”
~Out of the Box Learning-Empowering YOU On Your Homeschool Journey.
But what about curriculum?
Homeschool groups, my email, and message boards are filled with questions about curriculum.
- “What’s a good curriculum for a fourth grader?”
- “I’m on a budget. What’s a free curriculum for highschool?”
- “Is _____________ a good curriculum?”
- “My child has special needs and is behind, what should I use for curriculum?”
- “My child is gifted, what should I use.”
- “None of the curriculum I chose is working. What do I do?”
The Difficulty with Recommending Curriculum
The difficulty with recommending any curriculum, is that most of what is suggested, is what has worked for our own child, or our own homeschool. “Oh, try Math U See!” or “We use Calvert!” Certainly, we all want to know the pros and cons of any curriculum, but what works for my family, likely will not work for you.
Curriculum posts help new homeschoolers explore and research new options that they may have been unaware of. New homeschoolers have to start somewhere, right?
When we purchase anything new, our decision making is often based on another’s review. It makes sense. We read the reviews on any product and choose one based on others experiences. It’s how I shop on Amazon, and it’s how I bought my juicer. We want to make sure that our experience will be just as pleasant as the person recommending the item. Why wouldn’t it be? It worked for you, surely I should be just as satisfied, right? What about that restaurant you visited-you know the one, the service was slow, the food was terrible, and the table was dirty. Would you recommend that restaurant to someone else? Of course not. But maybe on the night you visited, the server was dealing with a family crisis in the back, the chef was in training, and the busboy was the only one on that night and missed some crumbs on your table. The restaurant may have received 5 stars through most of it’s existence, but what do we funnel in on? Yup.
That one review where things didn’t work.
Homechoolers Deserve More.
But we owe it to ourselves, and new homeschoolers to provide more. Homeschooled kids and parents deserve more than a juicer or restaurant review.
As a homeschool coach, I don’t recommend curriculum on social media, or in emails…at least not to start. I can answer general questions about the curriculum if the parent has them but, is it a match for your child? I have no idea.
Before we even begin a coaching session, my clients are sent a lengthy questionnaire about how their children learn; and, what the parent’s philosophy on education might be. Often times they don’t know because they have never even given a second thought about what learning might look like for their child.
What is Curriculum?
But, what is curriculum? I have a broad definition in that it’s, “everything you use to create a dynamic learning atmosphere”. For my family, curriculum is style, methods, manipulatives, field trips, courses, textbooks, online learning, and apprenticeships. Essentially, any learning experience in your world.
If you are in the beginning steps of homeschooling, or even much further down the road, I encourage you to consider the following before choosing homeschool curriculum.
- Do you want a religious, neutral or secular curriculum?
- Is common-core a factor, or doesn’t it matter?
- What is your budget per child?
- Do you want to use online learning, textbooks, outsource classes, or something totally different?
- What method, or style of homeschooling resonates with you? Does it even matter in your home?
- What resonates with your child?
- What type of learner are your children? Are they kinesthetic, auditory or visual? Or a bit of each?
- When is their best time for learning? Morning, afternoon, evenings, late at night, after a meal?
- Are they self-directed, or do they need lots of help?
- Are they creative, or analytical, or both?
- What other activities, not found in a textbook, will you be using?
Further into my coaching sessions, we explore the family’s life-style, schedule, and time committment of the primary homeschooling parent. Overkill? Maybe. But the more I learn about you and your family, the better I’m able to offer suggestions that might be a fit for your child’s learning needs. I provide curriculum suggestions to the parent that THEY might want to further explore.
The parent knows their child best, not me. I’m on the periphery observing. I’m the conduit. We don’t always get initial choices right, and that’s exactly the way it should be. Curriculum is ever-evolving, just like our kids. What works one day, may not work the next. That’s how it goes. Any curriculum that is a total bust, is a learning experience and helps you dig deep into what does work. How awesome is that?
Where to Begin?
If you are searching for curriculum I recommend Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.She covers all the nuts and bolts of curriculum, and while there are 4.5 million hits on Google for homeschool curriculum, it’s a great start in learning what’s out there.
Take any curriculum recommendations with a grain of salt. Research. Research some more. Create your own philosophy on what learning looks like and build from that. Homeschooling should not be built around the curriculum. The curriculum should be built around the homeschool.