How can I Choose a Homeschool Curriculum?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

A wise person once said that a family can homeschool its children with nothing but a library. While this may be true, most parents are more comfortable with an established homeschool curriculum. Choosing a homeschool curriculum can seem like a daunting task for the brand new homeschooling parent. After the decision has been made to homeschool the children, parents are often at a loss as to how to choose the right curriculum. They soon learn that homeschool curriculum is a surprisingly large market.

Homeschooling parents can purchase entire curricula with textbooks and complementing worksheets.
Homeschooling parents can purchase entire curricula with textbooks and complementing worksheets.

Veteran homeschooling parents will cheerfully try to encourage the new homeschoolers by sharing their own choices in curriculum and giving varying opinions. Sometimes this only adds to the confusion. The best thing a new homeschooling parent can do when seeking out homeschool curriculum is to go slowly, study, consider the child's learning style, and be flexible.

Tweaking the curriculum to better fit the student's interests and individual learning style is a major advantage of homeschooling.
Tweaking the curriculum to better fit the student's interests and individual learning style is a major advantage of homeschooling.

Whether parents have known for years that they would homeschool their children or whether the decision was a quick one that takes a child out of a traditional school setting, they should always go slowly when choosing a homeschool curriculum. In a panic, many parents will buy the first curriculum they find; often something which seems comfortable or familiar and reminds them of their own school days. Homeschool curriculum is expensive and there are hundreds of different types and styles. Children can be taught using library books and books borrowed from friends until the right curriculum is chosen.

Homeschooling curriculum conferences are offered annually in all 50 United States.
Homeschooling curriculum conferences are offered annually in all 50 United States.

The best way to study the choices in homeschool curriculum is to visit a homeschool curriculum conference. All 50 states have annual conferences where curriculum representatives gather to present their books and other products. At the conference, parents can browse through homeschool curriculums at their leisure and decide which one might work for their children. Many parents pick and choose between different curriculums, using one for math, another for grammar, and so on. In addition, professionals are on hand to answer questions and give seminars.

A curriculum guide may be available online for homeschooling teachers.
A curriculum guide may be available online for homeschooling teachers.

A child's learning style should be considered when choosing a homeschool curriculum. Whether the child is primarily a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic (hands on) learner, there are curriculums which are more appropriate based on learning style.

The most important aspect about choosing a homeschool curriculum is to be flexible. New homeschooling parents often spend an exorbitant amount of money on boxes full of shiny new books, only to find partway through the school year that both parents and children simply hate the curriculum. While not all learning is fun, you might find that your chosen homeschool curriculum is simply not right for your family. If so, be willing to make a change. Begin the process again: study the options, consider your child's learning style, and be flexible. And if all else fails, use the library!

Parents can choose a homeschool curriculum focused on a specific topic, such as grammar.
Parents can choose a homeschool curriculum focused on a specific topic, such as grammar.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments

anon153408

Speaking to other homeschoolers is absolutely essential. Reading reviews is sometimes confusing, but talking to parents in person will allow you to ask extensive questions as well as allow you to actually handle the materials. Finding your teaching style is just as important as knowing a child's learning style.

For me, multi-sensory approaches work the best. They tend to be less boring for everyone and also cover all the learning styles so the same materials can be used for different children.

It is also true that what you use at first isn't as vital as doing something every day. Developing the habit of doing work is far more important than the curriculum itself until you find what really works for each child. Also, don't underestimate your child's ability to learn from everyday life. So many necessary lessons are things that can't be taught in a book.

EarlyForest

What is a good secular homeschool science curriculum? All I can find is a lot of creationism, which I don't have a problem with, but just don't want to teach my children.

gregg1956

It is so, so important to compare your curriculum with other homeschooling parents, or best of all, with that of a comparable school. Far too often homeschoolers' curriculum is so far behind where it should be that it's frankly sad.

For instance, my aunt is homeschooling her children, and although her daughter is 6 and of normal intelligence, she is still teaching her a preschool homeschool math curriculum.

It's really unfortunate. So remember homeschooling parents, don't get too caught up in our own little world -- you owe it to your children to give them good homeschool curriculum packages.

StreamFinder

Can anybody give me some tips about choosing a classical Christian homeschool curriculum? My sister's children go to a classical Christian school, and I want to get that same kind of education without having to put my children in a school.

Can anyone advise me, or tell me what some good resources might be?

Thanks!

Sunny27

Great article, but I disagree with one point. I feel that speaking to other homeschooling parents about curriculum choices offers the new homeschooling parent some possible curriculum choices to research.

An excellent and very structured book on classical education and homeschooling is “The Well-Trained Mind “by Jessie Wise. The information in this book seems overwhelming, but the author offers a forum in which homeschooling parents can discuss various curriculum choices and which ones work and which ones don’t.

Jessie Wise offers reviews on specific curricula in her book which gives the reader some foundation when researching appropriate programs. She even provides grade timelines and lets the reader know what material should be introduced when.

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