I think most homeschool moms LOVE to review and organize curriculum. There’s something about the thrill of a new year, and new textbooks, that makes us incredibly happy. However, homeschool curriculum can be a fickle thing, and the options are a bit overwhelming. What works one year may not work the next. However, I have discovered a few tricks to choosing a homeschool curriculum.
Tip #1 – Assess each student individually
The first thing to consider when choosing a homeschool curriculum is your student. What is their particular learning style? Will they learn best with hands-on activities or worksheets? It’s also a good idea to assess weak areas.
For example, my oldest struggles with math. Because of this, she needs a math program that contains quite a bit of review. My youngest is dyslexic so a program that relies heavily on independent reading would not work well at all for her. When choosing a curriculum make sure you consider the ability of each child individually.
(Related Reading: Creating Homeschool Goals)
#2- Consider your time
How much time do you have in a day? A homeschool curriculum for a mom with five littles will look much different than one in a home with two older children. Be careful to consider your time constraints. I ended up teaching one child to read while the other one was learning multiplication. This was not a good year for an in-depth, hands-on unit study in our home. Are you a working mom, or on the road more than the average family? Then you may need to look at online learning, as opposed to parent led. There are countless options out there. Don’t spread yourself too thin when you don’t need to.
Tip #3 – Examine the financial aspect
Homeschoolers tend to be one income families, and unfortunately, most of us don’t have an unlimited budget. In my experience curriculum can have many hidden costs.
Be sure to examine every detail. Will you need tests? Will those be an extra purchase? How about read-a-louds, are additional books required? Will you have to spend the year tracking down “living books” from your library? If so, be sure they are available there. Otherwise, your $20 curriculum can quickly turn into $100. Ask me how I know.
Another money tactic I often see from curriculum companies is selling each item individually. Sometimes the teacher’s guide, answer keys, test booklets, test answer keys, student text, and student worktext all have to be purchased separately. If you are unsure about what comes in a kit or package call the company. Be sure to do your homework on costs BEFORE you place your order.
(Related Reading: The Frugal Homeschool Mom)
Homeschool Curriculum Tip #4 – Dig Deeper:
Okay, you have finally have narrowed it down, now what? Investigate of course! Start by reading online reviews and samples. Ask around. Do any of your friends use this curriculum? If so ask to see it.
I can’t tell you how many times I have bought curriculum that I’ve been super excited about only to be majorly disappointed when I opened it. Be sure to check out return policies as well, so maybe you won’t be stuck with something you can’t use. If possible make time to visit a curriculum display. There’s no substitute for hands-on viewing.
(Related Reading: Cathy Duffy Curriculum Reviews)
Homeschool Curriculum Tip #5 – Be Honest:
Education honesty has been my downfall for YEARS. I want to be a crafty, hands-on homeschool mom, but I’m just not. By the middle of the year, I am always second guessing myself, and I NEED to see progress on a worksheet. So be honest with yourself from the beginning.
Are you that type of mom? Can you afford that curriculum? Do you have time to complete all that required reading? With the endless options out there find a homeschool curriculum that fits your family, don’t make your family fit the curriculum.
So there you have it, my five tips for choosing a homeschool curriculum. Hopefully, you will find these tips helpful in your planning adventure.