When it comes to choosing curriculum, it is a jungle out there. Choosing curriculum for homeschooling doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful, once you know exactly where you want to go and how you want to get there.
It’s like going on a road trip. If we head down the highway without knowing what our destination is or what path we want to take to get there, we’ll be distracted by all the billboards and roadside attractions. Homeschooling is much like that. Walking through a curriculum hall or surfing a homeschooling website, browsing and checking out the scenery, without a plan in hand, we’ll be overwhelmed with the choices. But if we know where we want our homeschooling to go and how we want to get there, choosing curriculum becomes a simple matter of evaluating which one is going to be the best tool to help reach the goal.
You can head out on this journey well prepared and confident. Taking a little time to decide where you and your family want to go with homeschooling, understanding how your children learn and retain information, and then choosing curriculum to fit is not a hard process. There are 4 basic steps: Define your goals, discover your children’s learning styles, designate a teaching method and determine your curriculum options.
1. Define your homeschooling goals:
- Why are you homeschooling?
- What do you want your children to gain for their future from their homeschooling experience?
- Which is most important: advanced academics, hands-on experiences or character building?
2. Discover your children’s learning styles.
- Do they learn best by listening? Watching? or Hands-on?
- Will they do better with lots of short lessons each day or focusing on a comprehensive, group project (unit study type projects)
- All workbooks? All computer based? All hands-on? Or a combination of all three?
- How are the children’s attention spans? Can they sit at a table and do workbooks or will they be better off on the floor using manipulatives?
- How much time do you, mom, have to prepare, plan and present lessons? Some curriculums take a tremendous amount of prep time, others are completely self guided, others are a little of both.
3. Decide on a teaching method – based on answers to steps one and two, which teaching method seems a good fit?
- Unit studies which tend to be very hands on?
- Workbooks with lots of writing, logic and critical thinking?
- Advanced academics and accelerated learning?
- Classical studies following a structured, chronological program?
- Eclectic mix of several styles and curriculum?
Write down what you want in curriculum based on the answers to steps 1, 2 and 3 before going on to step 4.
4. Determine your curriculum options.
Focus on: does this help toward your goals and does it meet your learning style and lifestyle needs?
- Is the curriculum focusing on the areas of academics and character growth you feel are most important?
- Does this curriculum include lessons that meet your children’s learning styles? Can it be adapted to use their strongest learning style?
- Does it incorporate the teaching method you want to use?
- Does it fit your lifestyle, work for the number of children being taught, and most importantly, does mom have the time to do the necessary preparation work?
There are thousands of curriculums for homeschooling, don’t waste your time or money on ones that won’t help you reach your family’s goals or meet your children’s needs. By following the steps outlined above, you will be equipped to evaluate curriculum based on a clear understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish. You can quickly eliminate any options that don’t meet your goals and needs and whittle your choices down to 2 or 3 that seem to best fit what YOU want for your family.
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Putting in the effort up front to decide where you want to go and how you want to get there will make the journey enjoyable, successful, and help you conquer the jungle of curriculum choices.
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