Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum to Fit Your Family

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Summertime is quickly moving upon us.  The assessments are complete, and the books are closed.  We see rest & relaxation in our future, except for one small thing, next year’s curriculum.  To most people, this probably doesn’t sound like much fun.  I am a curriculum junkie, so I actually look forward to previewing and organizing curriculum. There’s something about the thrill of a new year, and new textbooks, that makes me incredibly happy. However, homeschool curriculum can be a fickle thing, and the options can seem overwhelming.  What works one year may not work the next. Nevertheless, over the years I have discovered a few things about choosing a curriculum.  So here are my tips for finding that “perfect fit” for your family.How to Choose a Homeschool Curriculum from Homeschool Balance

1).  Assess each student individually:

The very first thing to consider when choosing a homeschool curriculum is your student.  What is their particular learning style? Will they learn best with hands-on activities or worksheets?  It’s also a good idea to assess weak areas.  My oldest struggles with math. This means that she needs a math program that contains quite a bit of review.  My youngest has limited patience for items that she has already mastered.  I have to make sure that she stays at, or above, grade level or she will quickly lose focus.  When choosing a curriculum make sure you consider the ability of each child individually.

2).  Consider your time:

How much time do you have in a day?  A homeschool curriculum for a mom with 5 littles will look much different than one in a home with 2 older children.  Be careful to consider your own time constraints.  I ended up teaching one child to read while the other was learning multiplication.  This was not a good year for an in-depth, hands-on unit study in our home.  Are you a working mom, or on the road more than the average family?  Then you may need to look at distance or online learning, as opposed to parent led.  There are countless options out there.  Don’t spread yourself too thin when you don’t need to.

(Related Reading:  Why Distance Learning Made Me a Better Mom)

3).  Examine the financial aspect:

Homeschoolers tend to be one income families, and unfortunately most of us don’t have an unlimited budget.  In my experience curriculum can have many hidden costs.  Be sure to examine every angle.  Will you need tests?  Will those be an extra purchase?  How about read-a-louds, are extra books needed?  Will you have to spend the year tracking down “living books” from your library?  If so, be sure they are available there. Otherwise your $20 curriculum can quickly turn into $100.  Ask me how I know. Another money tactic I often see from a curriculum company is selling every item individually.  Sometimes the teacher’s guide, answer keys, test booklets, test answer keys, student text, and student worktext all have to be purchased separately.  If you are unsure what comes in a kit or package call the company.  Be sure to do your homework on costs BEFORE you place your order.

4).  Dig Deeper:

Okay, you have finally have narrowed it down, now what?  Investigate of course!  Start by reading online reviews and samples.  Ask around.  Do any of your friends use this curriculum?  If so ask to see it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have bought a curriculum that I have been super excited about only to be majorly disappointed when I actually opened it.  Be sure to check out return policies as well so maybe you won’t be totally stuck with something you can’t use.  If you can visit a curriculum display.  There’s no substitute for hands-on viewing.

5).  Be Honest:

This has been my downfall for YEARS.  I really, really, really want to be a crafty, hands-on homeschool mom.  The truth is that I’m just not.  By the middle of the year, I am always second guessing myself, and I NEED to see progress on a worksheet.  So be really honest with yourself from the beginning.  Are you really that type of mom? Can you really afford that curriculum?  Do you really have time to complete all that required reading?  With the endless options out there find a homeschool curriculum that fits your family, don’t make your family fit the curriculum.

So there you have it, my five tips for picking a curriculum.  Hopefully you will find these to be helpful in your planning adventure.  So now take a deep breath and move forward!  A new year awaits us!

Are you a new homeschool mom?  Check out my starting out tips here.

How about you?  What are some of your top tips for choosing a curriculum?

 

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