Home School Curriculum -
Guidelines for Choosing What Will Work
for Your Children

Part 1 - Grades K-6

Home school curriculum planning should not be overwhelming though I'll be the first to admit I have been easily overwhelmed during my homeschooling journey. I remember looking through numerous catalogs...as many as I could find...for hours at a time.

I'd start out excited as I found one product after another that sounded like a very wise choice until I read the next selection and the next which provided other ways to teach the same material and left me confused and frustrated.

After all, there were only so many dollars to spend and I couldn't afford to make a mistake. Once I bought it, we were stuck with it! I remember actually having a small panic attack and having to get up, walk around, and concentrate on breathing normally. Then I would put the catalogs away until the next neurotic episode.

The truth is, I don't know anyone who can afford to simply waste money trying first one expensive home school curriculum after another only to find their children don't like using it any more than they do.

Here are some tips to get this task done and keep it simple from my own experiences:

  • If possible, send away for distributors' catalogs in the spring or early summer before the fall you want to start school because:

    • It may take you a while to make up your mind and you won't want to feel pressured by a time deadline while doing so.

    • If your materials arrive during the summer, you will have time to look them over and get comfortable with them or contact the publisher to ask questions before you actually have to start using them.

    • Late summer and early fall are the homeschool curriculum distributors' and publishers' busiest times of the year. If you wait to order, your materials may not arrive by the time you wanted to begin teaching.

  • Now that you have your catalogs, spend some time just looking through them, read the titles, look at the pictures, get an overview of what is being offered. Mark anything that particularly captures your interest. Then, put the catalogs aside for a day or two and give your mind a little time to let all that information digest.

  • Okay, you're ready to start making choices... but first make a master list of subjects to be covered for each child for the school year something like the one below...

    This one is filled in for you - but of course you'll start with a blank grid and fill it in as you go. Make several copies of your blank grid in case you find you'd like to start over.

  • Going back to your catalogs, you can now use them to fill in the grid (use pencil because you will most likely change your mind at least a few times).

  • If you have several children, you may want to search for each child's curriculum separately - one subject at a time OR you could choose to take one subject at a time and decide what you want to use for each child.

Some of the best advice I've ever gotten about choosing home school curriculum for your youngest students: "If you choose a curriculum with a good reputation (i.e. you've heard at least some positive things about it from a source you trust), you won't go far wrong. They all cover the basics." Simple, huh? But then, that is our goal here, right?

Did you know that most of the material covered in the lower grades is repeated over and over in succeeding grades?
...So that, by the time your children get to junior high, if you have used a program consistently, you are unlikely to have any major gaps. You can also have your child tested

Learning styles can be an issue, but more and more home school curriculum companies are realizing they have to meet the needs of different kinds of learners and are adapting their materials to do just that.

If you've purchased home school curriculum program that doesn't work for you as it is and you can't return it, try using it as a guideline for the topics you need to cover and then get creative! Look at the library or online for books, CDs, DVDs, software, games, and other manipulatives that will enable you to teach those topics in the way your child learns best!

Some other ways to find out about home school curriculum choices are:

  • Talk to other homeschoolers (don't be shy, we love to talk curriculum!).
  • Join a support group (larger ones often have speakers and presentations).
  • Go to homeschool conventions and attend workshops on curricula as well as visiting the vendor booths and asking questions.
  • Google 'homeschool blogs' and read articles like this one, or visit publishers' (those who write and print home school curriculum) websites to learn the philosophy behind their product(s).

It will take time and effort ...but homeschooling... successful homeschooling ...requires an investment from you. Think of it as a kind of school for you... helping you develop skills you'll use all through your teaching years. Take one day and one choice at a time and you'll learn the ropes just as the rest of us have!

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