If you’re like most homeschool moms, choosing curriculum might look like this:
- Realize that “next year” is starting much too quickly and you need to pick curriculum.
- Pull up Pinterest to research different homeschooling curriculum.
- Get distracted looking at DIY projects made out of palletes that you’ll never make.
- Re-Focus: You’re looking for homeschool curriculum.
- Read 214 posts from your favorite bloggers.
- Feel guilty that you aren’t teaching your kids 16 languages like that homeschool mom.
- Eventually just give in and order the next level of what you bought next year or the curriculum you’re most familiar with.
Sound about right?
It doesn’t have to be that way! You can find the right homeschool curriculum for you and your family, and it doesn’t have to take you all year long!
How to Choose the Right Homeschool Curriculum
Consider Your Child’s Learning Style
This is crazy important, and it could possibly even be the entire reason that you homeschool. It is really important to know the way that your child learns best so that you can try to match your homeschool curriculum.
As an example, I can tell Mr. C something 500 times, but he won’t comprehend it until he reads it. He is definitely a “read-to-learn” kid, so because of that we’re getting plenty of book-based curriculum for him next year.
On the flip side, A-Man is the most hands-on kid that I know. He needs a lot of movement and a lot of concrete examples. So we’re getting him curriculum that allows him to touch things and play with things to really understand them.
Pay attention to whether your kid prefers project-based learning, or if they like workbooks. Maybe they learn best through music, or they retain information better if it’s presented as a game, or with art.
There is a curriculum out there for just about every learning style, and you’ll save yourself and your kids many headaches and tears if you consider their learning style when choosing your homeschool curriculum.
Consider Your Teaching Style
While most people will tell you to consider your child’s learning style, I think it’s also really important to consider your own personal teaching style.
If your child would love to practice math facts with flashcards every single day, but you HATE drilling math fact cards? That should definitely be considered when choosing a curriculum. Maybe you decide to find an app that will drill flashcards for you.
Similarly, if you have a child who has to hear something to retain it, but you can’t stand to read out loud? You’ll know that you need to look for some audiobooks that your kids can listen to.
If you only consider your child’s learning style without your teaching style, you’ll end up hating lessons, or skipping them altogether.
Consider Your Priorities
This is going to vary from family to family, and possibly even child to child, and there is no wrong answer here. Oh, and it will likely change from year to year.
With Mr. C this year our priority is to continue to challenge him with reading and math, while getting him used to a fuller homeschool schedule now that he’s getting into higher grades. He’s also been struggling with writing, so that’s become a big priority this year.
With A-Man? It’s his first year of actual “school”, so our priorities for him are completely different. We’re working on letter recognition, tracing, and basic math concepts. Also, our main priority is simply teaching him how to actively participate in “school activities” for longer than a few minutes.
So as a family consider your priorities. Maybe it’s really important to you that your children learn Spanish so they can communicate with Spanish-speaking friends or family. Maybe your family’s priority is keeping religion at the center of your homeschool. Or maybe you’re passionate about providing a stem based education.
Whatever your priorities are, it’s important to keep your focus on those. You do not need a latin curriculum if your priorities are math and science. Staying focused on your priorities will save you time, money, and ultimately a lot of homeschool guilt.
Consider Your Child’s Interests
This is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. You get to take your children’s interest into consideration when planning for your homeschool year. Of course, your kids will eventually have to learn about things they aren’t thrilled about (unless they get really jazzed about diagramming sentences or long division?), but we try to give our kids some autonomy over their educations.
Some of the easiest ways to fit your children’s interests into your homeschool is with your history and science curriculum. For example, we got Mr. C a botany based science curriculum because he wanted to learn about plants.
Ask your kids what they’d like to learn about this year. Are they interested in US History? Or maybe they’d love to learn about Vikings after watching How to Train Your Dragon. We loved the units that we did on pirates a while back.
The other simple way to include your children’s interests are with unit studies and extra curriculars. If you have a Lego obsessed kiddo, get them this book and have them do a few activities a week. If they’re interested in nature throw together a quick unit study on the local nature around your home.
Consider Your Realistic Time
Note, “realistic” might be the most important word in this whole tip. Do you honestly think that you’ll have time to fit in eight subjects a day?
Let me answer that for you. Absolutely not.
Take time to really think through how much active teaching time you can expect to handle each day, and how much active learning time your kids can handle.
In our house, Mr. C can handle a lot more independent work than A-Man, and I can only actively teach a few hours a day. I work from home, and I have Baby M and Miss S fighting for my time as well.
With all of those factors considered, we’re looking for certain subjects to be outsourced or independent. Mr. C has a math curriculum online that he can practice with, A-Man has independent fine motor skills activities that he can do himself.
If you can only actively teach for a few hours, please do not purchase a super hands-on and teacher-intensive curriculum. On the flip side, if you only have one child and you can spend a lot of time and effort, feel free to get something that will take some more time!
Consider Your Budget
Of course, you do need to consider your budget. Talk to your husband about this and determine how much money you have for all of your curriculum. It’s really important to not go over your budget.
You know what, friend? I’m going to get real for a second and say that I know how hard it is when you find that perfect curriculum, and then it’s completely out of your budget. Let me tell you right now. Your child is not missing out if you get a curriculum that’s less expensive. I promise. Your kids can learn without a curriculum at all. The curriculum is there to help you. You can teach with any curriculum.
Okay, sorry for that rant. Just had to clarify that.
Once you have your budget, go back up to your priorities. If your focus is math and reading, don’t spend half your budget on a history curriculum. Put your money where your priorities are, and find curriculum that fit your budget and your needs and then go onto the final step.
Check Out a Handful of Reviews
Friends, this is last for a reason. Do not skip ahead to this step no matter how tempting all of those reviews on Pinterest are.
The reason this is the last step is because bloggers are good at what we do. We write about curriculum that we honestly love, and we honestly think that everyone else will love it to. The downside? You could fall in love with our favorite curriculum only to realize that it isn’t in your budget.
Or you could fall in love with our curriculum even if it doesn’t actually fit your kids’ learning styles. Or you could fall in love with our favorite curriculum and then realize that you don’t have the time for all the activities.
Bottom line? You probably shouldn’t be reading all of the lovely blog posts about every science curriculum known to man until you’ve evaluated it for your family.
So here’s what you do. Once you have narrowed your choices for every subject down to 2-3, read a handful of reviews on those specific curriculums. Pay attention to what moms liked and didn’t like. What their kids thought. How much time it took. And from there, narrow your decision down to one.
(Alternatively, if you have a place near you where you can physically look through curriculum this is when you would do that. I don’t make it a full tip because many moms don’t have that option, but everyone has Pinterest!)
Once you’ve gone through these steps, you should have found the best curriculums that will fit your family. They’ll be within your budget, they’ll match your child’s learning style, and you’ll be all set for heading back to homeschool!
Don’t forget to check back to see the rest of the posts in the 10 Days of Back to Homeschool Prep series here!
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