How to choose the best home school curriculum for your family.
Article by Marianne Vanderkolk
One of the most frequently asked question by home schoolers is: “What home school curriculum should I buy?”
It definitely is a hard question and perhaps you are asking that question right now.
However, I will not be giving you a simple answer so that you can purchase the correct home school curriculum for your family. Instead I will give you the tools and questions you need to ask in order to make a good choice.
Firstly, to choose home school curriculum that will suit your family, you need to work out what your goals are for your family. I speak more about this in Step One: The Goals in my website. Goals help you to set out the plan for your family, working within your family’s value system, and take into consideration your children’s needs and special interests.
When you have decided where your family is headed, it will be easier to make a decision about what sort of home school curriculum you need and also what you do not need.
Here are some important things to consider when choosing curriculum:
Firstly, not every subject needs a curriculum. Often subjects can be taught simply by reading and discussing and writing. Homeschoolers can also be plagued by the idea that when it comes in a box or is created by an “educational expert”, it will teach the subject better than themselves. Don’t be fooled – things can be taught far simpler than what you think. We do not need to teach each subject for 12 or more years – adding snippets of learning a year at a time. Remember, we are homeschoolers and have the flexibility of our own choices – how and when we teach.Secondly, remember the Curriculum should be there to serve us, not rule us. Make sure whatever you buy that you remember who is in control. Often curriculum is written with many learning styles and optional activities included. These do not all need to be done and home school parents need to be able to pick and choose what will suit their family and not be driven by the home school curriculum itself.Cost is a factor which needs considering. How many children will this curriculum teach and what other alternatives are there?Time. How teacher friendly is this curriulum? How much time will it take for you to prepare before you actually teach the material?Independent learning. For some families, curriculum which encourages independent learning is a positive consideration so that other children can be attended to and so that the skills of independence are taught.Is the material consumable or can it be used by a number of children? Can you make it re-useable by using plastic overlays with whiteboard markers or asking your child to work in a workbook, rather than in the book itself?What sort of learning style does the curriculum use? Is this important to you?
As you read about different home school curriculum, it is a good idea to weigh the curriculum against others with these factors in mind. One terrific tool which would help you do this, and which I have used is Choose It. Use this tool and in 5 easy steps you will be able to choose curriculum according to factors which you consider important.
In Step One you write the question your are answering (What history home school curriculum should I choose?)In Step Two, you list the names of home school curriculum which you are interested in.In Step Three, you list factors which need to be considered and how important each factor is to you.In Step Four, you judge each curriculum according to your above factors.In Step Five – you have your answer! The computer gives each curriculum a percentage which indicates the best choice which fits the factors you have chosen. Of course, you may not choose to go along with the decision, but this step by step decision making software helps you to work out what is really important to you. Give it a go. Below are some factors you may wish to consider when using Choose It.
When choosing history home school curriculum – these may be some factors to consider:
Does the homeschool curriculum cover all ages?Do I need to buy extra books? – cost factorWhat perspective is it written from? (Christian/Evolutionary basis?) Does this fit with your family’s values?Is it teacher friendly?Does it teach using different learning styles? Projects? Reading? Hands-on?Does it use consumable workbooks?How involved do you want to be in teaching history? Does this curriculum suit your teaching style?Is it an integrated curriculum – covering more subjects? Is this important to you?
When choosing Math Home school curriculum – these may be some factors to consider:
Does the material span across all ages and levels? Does this matter to you?Re-useable textbooks or consumable?Independent learning or teacher intensive? – How much time do you have as a parent?CostDoes it incorporate different learning styles? Hands-on, pictorial and abstract?Does it come with concrete materials or can you purchase them separately?Video or on-line learning? Would this style suit your child?Does this curriculum use enough review? or too much? Does the expectation of time needed each day for this curriculum suit your family?Does the curriculum have an answer key? Does it keep records or your child’s progress when consdering an on-line program?
More questions to ask when considering different home school curriculum can be found here.
About the Author
Marianne, and her husband, Gerald, have been homeschooling their six children since 1990. In her spare time, she has been writing a website to help homeschoolers find their unique approach to homeschooling. Find your approach by beginning at the Homeschooling Guide.