In the first part of this series, I let you in on a secret--there is no “perfect” curriculum, but whatever you choose should work for your family. Flexibility is the name of the game! You will likely need to make small adjustments as you work through a program, but on the flip side, you should NOT have to overhaul the entire curriculum to make it work for your family. There are a few more aspects to keep in mind before you start your shopping!
If you did not read part one of this series, please take just a few minutes and start at the beginning--it will help you build a solid foundation for your program and help make sense of the information in this post.
Type of homeschool environment. This will have a significant impact on your curriculum decisions. Knowing what kind of homeschool environment you are envisioning will guide you to certain companies with products created for that approach. What best describes your homeschool style: classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unit studies, unschooling, traditional, or eclectic (a little bit of everything!)? Or you might participate in an online class or co-op setting that dictates a particular curriculum to use.
Types of curriculum. There are countless curriculum choices for you to investigate--which is great…....and not so great! This is when that overwhelming feeling can creep in….but if you have solid ideas for the first three components presented, you will be able to focus on what fits your family and narrow down your choices quickly. Also, if you ask a few seasoned homeschoolers for their opinions, chances are you will start hearing a curriculum mentioned repeatedly, and it might be worth checking out! Options include:
all in one curriculum which includes plans and materials for every subject of a particular grade level
Multi-age curriculum-you will find many history programs (and some science) that incorporate K-8 or K-12 activities. You read the core text as a family, and the program suggests a wide range of assignments to ensure that everyone is learning at their level. Many of the history programs also offer a literature component if you want to combine these two subjects.
Individual companies who focus on materials for a subject or two
Unit studies concentrate on one topic but encompassing a variety of subjects
Co-op driven curriculum like Classical Conversations which dictate materials for a majority of subject
Online programs for a single class or your entire day
Textbooks and/or workbooks
Create your own--use your own ideas to create a plan of study
Enrichment options are endless as well! You can add in games, online activities, hands-on activities, and more; these fun items help your children learn more about a topic and provide enjoyable practice when strengthening weaker skills.
Now that you have examined your child as a learner, you as an instructor, the type of homeschool you envision, and the available curriculum types, you can start to quickly narrow down your choices. My advice, don’t rush when trying to find a program for a student or subject. Once you begin researching, it will become clear what program will fit your family! You will also have doubts if a curriculum will address your needs, which is perfectly normal, and then you know it is time to cross it off of your list. There have been subjects or years where curriculum choice is easy, and everything seems to fall into place effortlessly, but I have had just as many times where it has taken weeks or months of pondering to decide which path would fit us the best. This is totally normal! Think of it as a puzzle; work on it piece by piece until you have completed the entire picture (or year)!
In the final post in this series, I will address the final steps of choosing your curriculum--purchasing it! I will provide you with tips and tricks to find the best deals and save money as you build your homeschool program.
If you would like assistance in narrowing curriculum that supports your homeschooling vision, we would enjoy working with you through one of our consulting packages.