Welcome back to another post in my Homeschooling 101 series! Today we get to some of the fun stuff…choosing curriculum!
Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed getting started (part 1 & part 2), planning ahead, and homeschooling methods and styles. Now today we’re going to dig in and start talking curriculum! (This post may contain affiliate links.)
Choosing curriculum is the fun part in my opinion, but I also realize that it can be quite overwhelming with all of the zillions of choices out there!
The best way I’ve found is to just dig in and get started! Normally I’ll start with one subject and then move my way down the line. If’ you’ve followed this series you’ll remember that the first part talked about choosing which topics to teach. If you missed that one you might want to check back before reading on.
Once you’ve selected your subjects, choosing curriculum will be a little easier.
As you begin to research, start writing down your top picks on a curriculum form such as the “Our Curriculum” form provided in my Homeschooling 101 eBook.
As you go fill out the subjects you’ll be covering, the curriculum you have chosen for a particular subject (If you are undecided leave it blank, or list a few of the curricula you are considering for that subject).
You’ll also want to note the cost of the curriculum if purchased new or the best online price you can receive including shipping costs.
This form will greatly aid you when actually ordering your curriculum from an online website, or from a used curriculum fair.
Some things to keep in mind when selecting curriculum:
- Is the curriculum independent or teacher lead? Make sure you have a blend of styles so that you are not overwhelmed with highly intensive teaching types of curriculum. Having a nice mix of these allows you to direct one student to do something more independent while working one-on-one with another student at the same time. It also teaches your child to learn to work independently as well.
- Cost: If cost is a factor for your family, as it is in most homeschools, make sure that the curriculum you choose is in line with your budget. Don’t get swept into thinking that expensive = better. There are numerous budgetary options when homeschooling, and there are even websites dedicated to homeschooling for free.
- Teaching Methods: As I mentioned previously, there are several different teaching styles as well, and I’m a firm believer that your teaching style is just as important as your student’s learning style.
- Student Learning Styles: While each person is unique in their preferred learning style, I prefer to pick a curriculum that will appeal to all of these styles together to create a more well-rounded learning environment.
- Choose curriculum you’ll actually use! Remember, a curriculum might look great, but if it takes up too much time and energy on your part, you’ll soon find yourself procrastinating by putting off the lessons. There will always be new curriculum to try, and a thousand different philosophies on teaching. Choose with what feels comfortable to you and fits your needs.
To help narrow your search I have added a list of some of my favorite curricula for each subject. This is not an exhaustive list of curricula available, however is a guide that will help you get started in your researching process.
You might also check out my Homeschool Curriculum Review Forum posts to get some more ideas!
Well, I think that’s enough information to keep you going for now, don’t you? Take your time when selecting curriculum. Once you’ve compiled your list of “must have’s” it’s time to go get you some! We’ll be talking about gathering curriculum in our next Homeschooling 101 post, so make sure to stay tuned.
Want more information? Check out Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started!
Our Homeschool: Here is a list of posts on our curriculum choices, our schoolroom setup and our daily schedule.
Here are some more helpful posts for new homeschoolers getting started:
Disclaimer: I am not a legal attorney, nor do I have a degree in law. The information contained in this Book is what I have gleaned from my own research and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding homeschooling, please refer to the laws in accordance with your own state, or seek professional legal counsel.
How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum
Many homeschool parents start with the question, “What’s the best homeschool curriculum?” A more productive question is, “What homeschool curriculum is the best fit?”
Choosing the best homeschool curriculum is important to new and prospective homeschooling parents, as well as those who want to improve homeschooling or adjust to a new phase, such as kids starting high school.
In order to find the homeschool curriculum that is the best fit for your family, consider
- Your children
- Your self
- Your situation
You’ll want to choose a homeschool curriculum that addresses all three. This guide will help you evaluate these considerations, as well as how to determine if a homeschool curriculum fits for your unique needs.
Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum with Your Children in Mind
Children come in different ages, stages, levels of development, learning preferences, personality types, and activity levels, and they have different interests.
For example, if you have young children, you may wonder what curriculum you should use for your 4 (or 5 or 6) year old. Or you may be interested in what homeschool curriculum to use for an active, outdoorsy child. Or you may need a homeschool math curriculum for a struggling student.
Choosing the Right Homeschool Science Resources
One of the most common questions homeschool parents ask me when they find out that I’m a scientist is what science curriculum I recommend for homeschoolers.
I’ve talked before about how we don’t use any particular science curriculum, but instead use a more modular-based method tailored to each of our children’s interests. Once we know what their interests are, we provide them with the resources they need to explore the topic on their own, and help guide them in that journey.
This week, I want to go into a little more detail about the 4 rules we use to help us choose the right science resources for our kids. ;
Rule 1: There’s No Such Thing as “Age Appropriate”
The first rule we follow is to completely ignore age recommendations. Every child is so different, that saying that a particular book or activity is for ages “8-12” isn’t really that helpful.
Instead, we use two metrics to decide what would be appropriate: the current reading level of the child in question, and their current mathematic abilities.
The Best Homeschooling Resources Online
According to Brian Ray, Ph.D., president of the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooling is currently “the fastest-growing form of education.
” Its popularity has resulted in more resources than ever before, but the vast number can be overwhelming to those who are new to home education.
To help parents get started and utilize the best homeschooling resources on the web, check out our list of recommended online tools.
- RELATED: What Is Homeschooling? A Guide for Parents and Students
Many new homeschoolers are surprised to discover a wide variety of educational methods and philosophies. It's exciting to have the freedom to blend these styles, so find what works best for your own children.
Charlotte Mason (simplycharlottemason.com)
Mason was a 19th century British educational reformer whose philosophy emphasized high-quality literature, nature study, and narration—or students' repeating learned information in their own words.
Rudolf Steiner developed this philosophy in 1919. It places a strong emphasis on child development and educating the student as a whole person: head, heart, and hands.
Childhood learning is divided into three different stages: grammar (the foundation years), logic (the middle school years), and rhetoric (the high school years). This three-part model is called the trivium.
Leadership Education (tjed.org)
This leadership model, also known as Thomas Jefferson Education or TJEd, focuses on teaching students how to think as opposed to what to think. It emphasizes reading classics and discussing them with a mentor (a parent or other adult).
Interest-Led Learning (johnholtgws.com)
This homeschooling method is sometimes referred to as unschooling, a term coined by educational pioneer John Holt. Homeschoolers who follow this style allow their children's interests to form the basis for their studies; they believe that children are curious by nature and have an innate desire to learn.
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed this philosophy in the early 1900s. It focuses on hands-on experience, movement, choice, and order in the learning environment.
If you're nervous about how to comply with the laws, consult these homeschooling resources for reassurance. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and in many (though not all) foreign countries. Use the following list to find the information you need to homeschool confidently.
Home School Legal Defense Association (hslda.org)
A group of lawyers began this nonprofit organization in 1983. They provide representation for homeschoolers having legal challenges as well as information on current laws in the U.S. and abroad. If you want to research the legal status of homeschooling in another country, visit the international section (hslda.org/hs/international) for an overview on the current policies around the globe.
Search for information by state with an easy-to-use map (find it here) and read about relevant homeschooling policies.
Once you've made the decision to homeschool, one of your major decisions is which curriculum to use. Use this list as a springboard to find the homeschooling resources that best fit your child. The last two websites on the list have Christian-themed content geared toward families interested in religious education.
Oak Meadow (oakmeadow.com)
Oak Meadow's approach focuses on delivering academics for preschool through high school using imaginative, child-centered methods with a strong emphasis on the creative arts: drawing, painting, music, and handwork.
Moving Beyond the Page (movingbeyondthepage.com)
This homeschooling curriculum offers packages with a focus on critical thinking and comprehension for ages 5 through 12. It takes into account the student's strengths and learning style, and delivers project-based instruction that meets or exceeds state and national standards.
For those who want to know that their kids are meeting state standards while still enjoying an individualized approach, this site offers a complete, integrated curriculum as well as online support and assessment tools.
Cathy Duffy Reviews (cathyduffyreviews.com)
How to Homeschool for Free (or Almost Free)
One of the biggest concerns for new homeschool parents—or those who find themselves unexpectedly homeschooling due to school closures—is the cost.
There are many ways to save money on a homeschool curriculum, as well as many resources to help your kids learn every subject, from math and science to art and physical education.
There are even virtual field trips and space exploration tours available. The best part? Many of these tools are available online for no cost.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. High-quality homeschooling resources are available at no cost to anyone with access to the internet.
Khan Academy has a long-standing reputation as a quality resource in the homeschooling community. It is a non-profit educational site started by American educator Salman Khan to provide free, quality educational resources for all students.
Organized by topic, the site includes math (K-12), science, technology, economics, art, history, and test prep. Each topic includes lectures delivered via YouTube videos.
Students can use the site independently, or parents can create a parent account, then set up student accounts from which they can track their child’s progress.
Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool is a free online resource created by homeschooling parents for homeschooling parents. It contains full homeschool curriculum from a Christian worldview for grades K-12.