10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum

 

Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

When I set out to play along with the iHomeschool Network’s 10 Weeks of Top Tens, I thought it would be a fun, light-hearted way to tap into some fun facts from my lengthy homeschool experience.  However this week’s prompt, “10 Reasons Why You Chose Your Homeschooling Method” made me really think.  You see our family’s choice of homeschool method has changed repeatedly throughout our 15 years of homeschooling.  It has naturally evolved as our family structure and have changed.

In fact, choosing a homeschool method is a bit like a real-life Algebra lesson.  If A = the learning method of your child, and B = the learning style of you the teacher, and C = how many children you have that are being homeschooled, and D = how many preschoolers and babies you have…choosing a homeschool method would look something like this:

Of course this becomes some form of Calculus that I have long since forgotten when you have more than one child, but you get the gist.  I hope.

Seriously, there are many variables in choosing a homeschool method that works for both parent and students.  As my experience, knowledge and family grew, our homeschool methods have changed.   We began by trying to recreate the traditional schoolroom in our home which, as my 13-year old might say, was an epic fail!

Since then we have settled on an Eclectic Homeschool approach, meaning that we choose from various types of methods and curriculums to tailor-make our kids’ education. Here are my top 10 tips for choosing your homeschool curriculum:

1.  Our family’s goals in education.

My goals for our children’s education have evolved from one that worshipped education and intelligence to one that is in synch more with our current philosophy of life.  I used to value test scores, IQ scores, and other man-made measurements.  Now we seek God for our children, that they would know their God-given talents, that they would learn how to seek Him and know Him and His will for their lives.

2.  How involved can I be?

With lots of little ones and older kids that are not entirely independent yet, I need to be careful not to over commit my time.  The Eclectic Method gives me the freedom to choose what works with our unique {and changing} needs.

3.  How much structure do I want?

Do you thrive with a schedule?  Or do schedule make you crazy?  I have found a balance between holding loosely to a schedule while remaining open to changes in that schedule.  Homeschool methods that hold tightly to a set schedule with little flexibility can make well-rounded homeschool goals difficult to attain.

4.  Who will decide what my child will learn?

Government guidelines may have requirements that you need to be aware of, but they are not the only source of this information.  There are educational experts {typically the people who write the traditional textbooks}.  We try to balance these with our kids’ interests by following a set scope and sequence – spending more time on things that are of particular interest and moving more quickly through those things that don’t.

5.  What is my child’s learning style?

Your homeschool environment will be much more pleasant if you can pinpoint the ways that your children learn best.  While all kids will learn their math facts – they can learn them in different ways.  Some kids prefer rote repetition while others need more hands on practice.  There are many sources online to determine your child’s learning style.

6.  What is my learning style?

We tend to teach in the way that we learn best.  I tend to prefer textbooks and workbooks {just the way I was raised I suppose!} but my kids really flounder with this method.  We still use textbooks but we use them more as a guide to what to be studying in each subject – supplementing with more read alouds, field trips and hands on projects to make the subject come alive.

7.  What can you afford?

I would really like for my older kids to take a few classes through our homeschool group this year but our finances just can’t take it at this time.  In the end, any curriculum will ‘work’ with a bit of determination and creativity.

8.  Advice from like-minded friends.

Anyone who has homeschooled for long knows the delight of discussing and sharing our successful, homeschool curriculum finds.  Get connected and find out what other people are using, why they like it and why they don’t.  Whenever possible, go and put your hands on the curriculum and give a good going through.

9.  Consult with your husband – no matter how involved he is.

My husband teaches very little in our homeschool.  He is the go to guy for learning life skills.  I think I may have the only 8-year old with a business plan!  He does, however, have the same learning style as many of my kids.  He, and they, are dramatically right-brained, creative types while I tend towards the left-brain, ‘tell me how many pages to complete’ mindset.  No matter how much I study and read, I still don’t really understand what it is like to be right-brain dominant.  My husband has been a huge help in weeding out curriculums that would not work with our kids.

10.  Pray and ask God for direction.

This is especially important if you are at a homeschool convention curriculum hall.  Oh yes, a homeschool mother’s dream come true and a homeschool father’s nightmare!  It is easy to fall into the ‘everyone else is doing it’ mentality.  When it came time to consider music instruction for our oldest daughter, we chose piano because – that is what every homeschooler does, right?  Lets just say that we didn’t know much about Dyslexia then but suffice to say that two staffs and a completely left-brained teacher resulted in a disastrous experience for her.  Had we prayed, perhaps we could have avoided that for her.

How did you choose your homeschool method?  Any more tips?

Linking up today:

Marianne Sunderland

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Comments

  1. This makes so much sense to me. Although we have only been homeschooling for a year at this point, I am sure we will tweak and maybe even change all together our homeschool style as our children grow and our life circumstances change. Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  2. This is so great and so true. We also have changed our curriculum over the years and it’s always good to keep these goals and your advice in mind. :)

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