When you start homeschooling, you worry that you’re doing the right thing, you want to know how to choose the best curriculum for your homeschool. But you don’t want to waste a ton of money with the wrong things.
I love homeschool planning time this is the time I get to put all of my curriculum research to the test. I spent our second year homeschooling as a curriculum junkie and researching anything and everything related to homeschool curriculum.
I knew their philosophies and prices and I had a long Excel sheets that I kept to compare used book prices to retail prices so I always knew if I was getting a bargain or not.
Well, guess what? I ended up spending a lot of money, and not using a lot of the material I purchased. Either because they weren’t what I expected or we just didn’t have time.
So fast forward, here I am 6 years later and all I’m looking to purchase next year is our math program and some fun logic books. I have everything else I need for our other subjects or I plan on using things I find online.
How do you know what’s going to work for you? Well, you can research all you want but in the end, you’ll only get to see a couple of sample pages so unless you get it into your hands, it’s hard to say if you’re going to love it until you start using it.
How to Choose the Right Curriculum for Your Homeschool
What is your teaching style?
Do you need a lot of hand-holding, then maybe you’ll want to use something that has a script for you to read through. Do you want something that is more flexible? Then you won’t want something that has a preset schedule down to how many pages you should read from what book on each day. If you don’t like teaching it, it’s not going to work for your family, no matter how many other rave reviews the product received.
Do you have a fun and wacky science curriculum that your kids would love? But perhaps the messes scare you and you decided it’s more work to prepare and purchase the supply list and then clean up after the giant messes. Be realistic in what you want and what you can really do in your homeschool.
If you have baby number 3 on the way, you’re going to want something that doesn’t take a lot of prep time and that can be done somewhat independently if your children are able to work on their own. If not you will want something pre-planned with supplies on hand so that there is little work for you to do other than open that book.
Homeschool Planning Guide for the Unorganized Mom: An easy-to-follow plan for successful homeschooling when you don’t even know where to startThe Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and LifeThe Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your KidsThe Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at HomeA Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of LearningThe Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education
What is your child’s learning style?
Do you have an auditory, visual or kinaesthetic learner? First of all, do you know what your child’s learning style is, if not you need to find out? This will obviously be a bit more difficult with younger children but there are hints into how children learn from everyday tasks. I didn’t know I had a visual-spatial learner until I read a random quiz in a homeschool newsletter. Once I researched it, there was no mistaking it.
I think my younger son is an auditory learner just like me, he follows directions really well and can remember conversations really well. My oldest has a wonderful sense of direction and thinks in pictures which I can tell because he struggles to tell me something without physically describing it.
Once you figure it out, it will help you choose the best curriculum that suits your child.
How much will it cost?
Is the curriculum that you are drooling over affordable? Will it be worth the money you spend on it? Some things to consider when determining if the price tag is worth it is to consider if the product is consumable or can it be used with other children? Does it have a high resale value? Can you purchase it used? See my post on purchasing a used homeschool curriculum.
I always said that I would use whatever I purchased for my second son but guess what? They don’t learn the same way at all. I’m actually going to be switching the math curriculum because of this. You can’t use that as an excuse to purchase an expensive curriculum if you know that your two children learn differently?
Is there a cheaper version?
You know that pricey all in one curriculum that you’d love to buy, is there a program that is similar but cheaper? Can you come up with something of your own using library resources?
Finding online resources or looking for alternatives means you may not find that exact same product you had your heart set on but you will need to input the time to create something that you love.
You will need to decide if you want to spend the money or if you want to spend the time creating what you can’t buy.
Can you tweak the curriculum that you already have?
Do you really need to buy something new? Can you use something that you already own?
Don’t get into the grass is greener syndrome where you hear about a brand new curriculum that everyone is raving about. If you’re using something that works for you and your child, don’t mess with it. It will save you time and money.
I’ve purchase a curriculum when I’ve heard other mothers gushing over it only to find that it really didn’t work for my child. I kind of had a feeling it wouldn’t work but that I could make it work because others were so happy with it.
Ask your child what they want to learn?
This is really something that cannot be ignored and probably the best tip here. Your child will learn with more zeal and excitement if they get to choose what topics they get to study.
I’m preparing to enter the dinosaur world again with my second son, something I’ve already gone through with my first. He’s so excited and he starts the day knowing that we are going to have an awesome day of learning.
If your child really doesn’t want to learn about the ancients, why not jump ahead to the middle ages with all the cool knights, castles, and weaponry, you can’t go wrong. The universe won’t implode if you don’t start at the beginning. And you’ll have one happy child.
You will find that what works for others may not work for you and your family. It will take some trial and error so don’t fret, no one said this was going to be a piece of cake. Other parents are going through the exact same thing.
Take a look at what others are blogging about through this ABC blogging series.