Choosing Your Curriculum

So you’ve decided to home school. You’ve started to put together the paperwork that you need to satisfy your legal requirements (if you have legal requirements). You even manage to go to one of those home schooling conferences thinking that you’ll buy your curriculum there. You make it to the vendor hall, take a step inside. . .and are greeted by no less than 100 tables all touting products that they say you desparately need. How on earth do you begin to shift through the maze of curriculum options and make a decision?

When I first started, I happened to speak with two women who were completely sold on classical education. They assured me that a classical education offered the most rigorous learning experience possible. The implication of course is that if you don’t use a classical curriculum your kids are missing out. The problem with this is that there are lots of home schooling families who don’t use a classical education who turn out equally impressive children. Homeschooling works not because of the curriculum but because of the investment you are making in your child. So breathe easier–you will not make the wrong choice and mess up the rest of your child’s education. With that said, I’ve put together a list of things to consider when you begin your curriculum search.

You philosophy of education?
Take some time to think about what it is you are hoping to achieve by home schooling your child. Are you hoping to send your little darling to Harvard? Are you unhappy with the values and morals taught in public school? There is not a wrong answer. . .but the answer to this question, should have a significant impact on what you choose. You should be able to look at your philosophy and see that the curriculum you chose fits within your philosophy.

How much time are you able to spend?
Some people are able and prefer to do paperwork, grades, and lesson plans by themselves. Others prefer to enroll in a distance learning program and let the program do most of the work. There is also an option for everything in between.

How do you like to teach?
Think about with which tools you are comfortable teaching. Are you a “hands-on” type of person, or would you be content to just read aloud and tell stories all day? The bulk of your curriculum should fit into your methodology.

How do your kids like to learn?
For as many children as you have you probably have as many different answers to this question. However, think about what medium they use best. This will help you to know whether to buy workbooks, use software, or something different altogether.

How strict are your regulations?
If you live in state that is highly regulated, you may be uncomfortable going it alone. You may feel like you need a structured set of lesson plans or to be under an umbrella school in order to comply.

How big is your budget?
Going broke over your home schooling choice is not wise. You can home school for free, or very little if you want to. Most people prefer to own some of their favorite books, but you can spend as much or as little as you want on your home schooling curriculum.

Before you shop. . .
There are so many options out there these days that there really is no reason you can’t find the perfect curriculum to meet your needs. Take into consideration all of the factors that have been mentioned. It really is worth the time it takes to write down some thoughts. A list of what you want specifically will come in handy when you go to talk with a vendor or even if you’re reading reviews in a catalog.

Related Articles:

Creating a Homeschool Schedule
How to Plan a Unit Study
A Few of My Favorite Things: Art
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