10 Steps in Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum {Part 2}

by GfG on November 5, 2012

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Last week I shared the first five steps in choosing or changing homeschool curriculum.  Here are the next five.

Onward to peaceful curriculum choosing!

6.  Which subjects do you want to/need to work with your child one-on-one? Back to hours in a day.  You have to be realistic about what you can get done in a day.   I highly suggest writing down how long each subject would take (based on curriculum you are considering AND the student to use it) for your day and doing the math.  I remember one time realizing I had tasked myself into “working” 11 hours a day seven of them one-on-one.  Uh…. that doesn’t work.

a.  Ways you can make it work if you simply must have all those hours: Consider a block schedule.  For example: do science on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.  Switch out geography and science: do one every other month.  That kind of thing.

b. Consider that this year is just not going to be the year to do all those subjects you dream about doing.  It’s ok to let things go.  You can do them a different year.  If you really, really want to cover Latin, then make it a priority next year.

7.  How does your student(s) learn best?  Ok, there are two issues that need to be addressed here.

a. What is your child’s learning style?  I want to say that sometimes we can not always learn in our preferred method.  We have to stretch ourselves.  That being said, a definite perk to homeschooling is addressing learning styles.  You need to be sure to have a basic understanding of how your child learns, his strengths, and his weaknesses.

You will do a disservice to your child (and your sanity) if you choose a curriculum that is a mismatch for a learning style.  Yes, this might mean that different children use different curric for some subjects.  Yes, that bugs me, but it is what it is.

b. What is your child’s natural ability? While one aspect of homeschooling is challenging our children academically to grow, we have to also be realistic.  We have to take into consideration a child’s God given abilities and weaknesses when choosing a curriculum.  For example, if a child hates reading, then choosing a curriculum that is very heavy on reading would be a struggle for both of you.  Sure, incorporating terrific books to draw your child into reading is a great idea, but planning a school day that is almost entirely dependent on reading is unfair.

8.  Is there a deficit you need to address in your child?  Sometimes our children are behind in certain areas and we need to focus our efforts on that.  In doing so, you may need to choose a curriculum that addresses this deficit, cut out other subjects or replace curriculum that has not worked well.

These deficits need to be determined with different goals in mind: your mandatory subjects, the future goals of the child, and state regulations (meaning if your state says you have to teach math in a bona fide way and your child is not progressing in math, you should address that learning), being some.

9.  Which subjects could/should your child do independently?  There are times in a child’s academic life when it’s very appropriate as well as beneficial for a child to do work independently.  The amount of time and subjects will vary by child, but evaluate your child and see if you need to help them grow in this area.

Do not choose a curriculum that is completely independent, unless you have prepared your child for this or you are willing to do some training.

10. How much money do you have to spend?  There is a bottom line, for most of us, so you have to make choices that involve money.  It is not appropriate to go into debt, even for really great books (and if you know me, that’s sayin’ something!) or for the “perfect” homeschool curriculum.

a. Buy used:  You can often find curriculum used at half the price.  I’ve used The Well Trained Mind forums, Ebay, Tapestry of Grace forums, and Craig’s List.  All of these are wonderful options.  The risk is that you can usually not return them.

b. Buy from discount places: Buying directly from the publisher is usually the most expensive route.  For some products, it’s the best or only way to go, but for many, you can find cheaper places.  Do I even need to mention Amazon? Also consider: Rainbow Resource, CBD, and Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

c.  Sell what no longer fits your homeschool.  Homeschoolers are notorious for holding on to curriculum, even though it’s highly unlikely that it will ever get used.  We are so scared that we will need the product sometime down the road, we keep it for years (decades even).  It can be very freeing to bless someone else with curriculum that is not a match for your homeschool.

d.  Stick to your budget.  Once you have gone through this list of questions and you have narrowed down your wish list, it’s time to make decisions on spending.  A curriculum can teach every child to read Greek and fold laundry at the same time, but if is uses all of your budget and you still have items you should buy, then it’s not the best curriculum for you.

Prioritize your wish list and then spend accordingly.  If you really want a curriculum, but can’t afford it, consider renting it from a friend, saving for next year, or praying you change your mind.


So, there you go!  Ten steps in choosing curriculum.

If you will use these questions as a sieve for curriculum deciding, I believe you will narrow down your options.  If you use these questions to help  you stay on task for your homeschooling journey, I believe you will enjoy success instead of frustration.

Which questions do you need to focus on for your next decision? 

Linking to Hip Homeschool Hop & Teach Me Tuesday & Mama Moments Monday

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