If you’re trying to figure out how to choose a homeschool curriculum I’ve got some great news for you. I’m sharing all the things beginner homeschoolers miss when picking out a curriculum that works for you.
As I’ve shared before, I was homeschooled and I am homeschooling my son so you have the added benefits from someone who’s been on both sides of homeschooling. I can share what to look for to choose a homeschool curriculum that will have your kids waking up with excitement to learn.
When you first start looking through all the different homeschool curriculum choices you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of different options out there. So before you start looking at the curriculum you need to first figure out what your homeschool goals are.
Consider Your Homeschooling Method
The first thing you need to consider in choosing a homeschool curriculum is your homeschooling method or blend of methods. For instance, I am blending unschooling, nature based curriculum, and bringing in media to help for our homeschooling this year.
This means, I want my child to learn more in play and in practice than from textbooks. Additionally, he learns best from watching YouTube videos – pre screened by me – and playing games on his tablet or computer.
Consider your homeschooling method first before anything else so you can get a visualization of what teaching your kid will be like.
To find out more about the different types of homeschooling methods check out this helpful post for Time4Learning.
Find Out What Your State Curriculum Is
Each state will typically put their state standards or guidelines for each grade online. I live in Pennsylvania which has pretty strict homeschooling regulations, so it was important for me to verify what my state’s first grade curriculum standards were and what topics were covered in first grade.
Using your state, even if it’s one with easy homeschooling standards, can at least give you a starting point when looking to choose a homeschool curriculum. Sticking to your state’s curriculum also means that if you decide to send your kid to a traditional school in the future they will be right in line with where their peers are in unit studies.
To find your state’s curriculum standards simply google your state – your kids grade level – and curriculum standards. After a few ads you will likely see your state’s website in the search results with it’s curriculum standards.
What To Look For In A Curriculum
Now that you’ve figured out your homeschooling method or blend of methods and what your state requires for your child’s grade level you can start the process of looking into curriculums, workbooks, lesson plans, and assignments.
Your Child’s Learning Style
When choosing your homeschool method you probably already considered what your child’s learning style or preferences are. However, you will need to keep this in mind again when you start looking at the curriculum.
Different learning styles are:
- Visual Learner
- Auditory Learner
- Verbal Learner
- Physical of Kinesthetic Learner
- Logical Learner
- Social Learner
- Solitary Learner
For more on learning styles this is a great article explaining the different styles.
Your child may learn via a blend of different styles and it’s often best to incorporate their main learning styles in each lesson you are teaching to reinforce what they are learning.
Your Teaching Style
You will want to consider what your teaching style is as well. While yes we are all focused on catering to the child, if the curriculum uses a teaching method that doesn’t fit your teaching style you will likely feel bored or lack the motivation to teach your child.
So are you a crafter, a reader, prefer to use a video and then discuss what was learned? How would you make the most of teaching?
- What resources would you like to use?
- How hands on or off would you like to be?
- How often do you want to venture out for field trips?
Working with a program that compliments your teaching style as well as your child’s learning style will allow for greater success in your everyday homeschool activities and lessons.
Cost Of Curriculum
Your next step to choose a homeschool curriculum is figuring out your budget. If you are going with a curriculum chances are you are going to need to figure out what you can afford.
Keep in mind there are only three states, Illinois, Louisiana, and Minnesota, that allow for homeschool families to use a tax credit on their income taxes.
Our curriculum for this year cost us a little over $600 so it was not cheap, however it was one of the least expensive curriculums I found. Some homeschool programs offer payment plans and more in order to make sure that families can homeschool their children.
How much you want to spend on the curriculum is up to you, but keep in mind your homeschool method when deciding how much to spend, because if you plan on using a lot of free or cheap resources to supplement you may not need to spend as much on a thorough curriculum.
Using Free Homeschool Resources
There are loads of resources out there and it is possible to do homeschooling for basically free if you wanted to. Word of caution though, if you live in a state that has stricter homeschool laws they may require a detailed list of the curriculum you intend to use.
Just like with a paid curriculum, free homeschooling resources should be looked over, watched, and facts double checked before introducing them. So while free is great, it does require a bit of extra work on your end. I personally only use free homeschool resources as a supplement when I’m looking to engage my child in a lesson more.
Free Homeschool Curriculum and Resources
Below is a list of resources I trust to help supplement our homeschool education program.
Keep in mind there are plenty of documentaries you can use on YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu for older kids who can sit through and pay attention to them. Nat Geo Kids also has a bunch of fun activities as well.
Online Homeschool Curriculum
Now there are some who might claim that online schooling is not homeschooling, and in some aspects they are correct. However, an online curriculum does not mean that the parent can take a hands off approach to their child’s education.
You will still need to plan field trips, outings, and reinforce what they are learning online inside the home. You may plant seeds, to help them learn about the lifecycle of a plant. Go outside to stargaze and look at the moon for helping them learn the moon phases.
Just because you aren’t the main teacher doesn’t mean you are not still a part of their education in a much larger way than when they go to a traditional school.
However, by state laws and depending on the program you use you may not be subject to evaluations or reporting if you use an online curriculum. Make sure the online curriculum you choose takes over the reporting of your child’s project to your state or local superintendent.
Also, be prepared for the price of an online curriculum. They are likely expensive and you will spend a lot of time scanning completed work to send to the teacher for review.
I liked my experience with an online curriculum through my highschool education. If I felt like my son would sit still through an online education I would be using an online curriculum. However, he’s just not ready at this point to do an online curriculum.
Look For A Detailed Guide or Sample
One of the things that helped me choose a homeschool curriculum was the samples and detailed guides that were available. Oak Meadow did a fantastic job on their site in making sure those who purchase their curriculum understand what they are getting.
If a curriculum doesn’t have samples or detailed guides of their curriculum you may want to ask them to send you some of that information. These can help you really understand exactly what you will get out of the program you choose.
Research Homeschool Curriculum Reviews
The final step in how to choose a homeschool curriculum comes in looking for reviews of the curriculums you have found that could be a potential fit. Look for real life reviews of homeschoolers who have used the curriculum and what they have to say about it.
Simply Google the name of your curriculum along with reviews to look for homeschooling bloggers who have used the curriculum in their homeschooling.
I was down to about 3 different curriculums when I started looking for reviews and the reviews are what helped me to make a decision on the curriculum I wanted to buy. I was able to see how that curriculum would work for our homeschooling method, my son’s learning styles, and my teaching style.
Reviews are one of the better ways to determine if a homeschooling program is right for your family.
Choosing A Homeschool Curriculum
I hope that this post helps you choose a homeschool curriculum that is best for your family and for your educational goals with your kids. After being homeschooled myself and now homeschooling my child these are the most critical points I found to look at when it’s time to choose a homeschool curriculum.
My hope is that your homeschooling experience is a fantastic one that you and your kids love and take a lot of great information and memories from. The type of curriculum you choose can determine if you have success in homeschooling or not.
Make sure you check out my post on what to do when homeschooling gets tough for more help regarding your homeschooling adventure.
What are you looking for when you choose a homeschool curriculum? Let me know in the comments below. Follow us on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite homeschool boards.o your favorite homeschool boards.