Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum
Deciding what homeschool curriculum to use is a huge decision. The curriculum that you choose will guide the learning that occurs for your child, so you want to make sure that it is a good match for both how your child learns best and your comfort level with teaching your child.
Not all homeschool curriculums are created equal: there will be parts of some that you really like, others that you don’t care for at all. This is typical in almost all curriculum materials, even for regular classroom teachers, so it’s important to be clear on what you want for your child and to understand that you may pick and choose from several different homeschool programs to achieve the best fit for your family.
As you start the selection process there are some considerations to keep in mind that will help you with your decision. Work through these and perhaps make a list of criteria of what you want for your child in a homeschool curriculum.
Core values and beliefs
Does the homeschool curriculum match your family’s values and beliefs? Would you be comfortable presenting the information in the curriculum to your child without having to make major adjustments or add a lot of supplemental materials to it? You will want to explore the different homeschool programs to determine what values and beliefs are emphasized and if this matches your own. For example, if you are looking for a strong Christian perspective, you would want to add this to your list of criteria in your selection process. Determining whether to use a secular or religious program will set you on the right path to choosing a homeschool curriculum.
Every child learns differently and it’s important to choose a program that fits your child’s general learning style. If your child is a kinesthetic learner, then perhaps an online homeschool program is not a good fit since it would require sitting at a computer to receive the academic instruction. A better fit might be a program that actively engages all modalities and gets them on their feet and moving – physically learning! Auditory and visual learns, however, might respond well to homeschooling online and you might want to review the different online homeschool programs available to them. The key, though, is to determine how your child learns best and to find a program that includes lessons and activities that engage that learning style. Many of the homeschool curriculum programs designed the content to interact and engage with all learning styles to accommodate the most learners.
Establishing a teaching method is also a critical piece of the homeschool curriculum puzzle. There are many different approaches as to HOW (methods) you homeschool your child that will help determining WHAT (curriculum) you homeschool your child. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the various homeschooling methods, talk to other homeschool families and find out what has worked for them, and research on your own to determine which method works best for you.
Choosing a delivery model
Again, there are many different ways that the curriculum can be received by your child, and each has it’s own merits. Will you be the sole source of information for your child? Or, will you find an online homeschool program that does the majority of the teaching for your child? Perhaps you want a hybrid program that allows for some learning online and teaching by you? There are many different options for how you want the curriculum delivered to your homeschooler and to find the option that best meets your needs consider the following:
- How much time will you have to homeschool your child?
- Do I want to use one homeschool program for all subjects, or pick and choose the curriculum from a variety of programs?
- Do I have access to a computer and the Internet, and do I feel comfortable with my child being online for long periods of time?
- Does the program need to have a built in schedule to keep us on track, or do I want more flexibility to add in my own activities?
- How will I keep track of grades and records?
One thing for certain that you will need is to choose a homeschool program that is accredited. Using an accredited homeschool program takes the risk out of schools not accepting the work that you’ve done at home should you decide to return to a public school setting or your child goes on to college. Accreditation ensures that the program has met a certain academic standard in terms of quality of content and rigor of the curriculum.
Cost is another consideration when choosing your homeschool curriculum. Although there are free homeschool programs that are accredited, you will want to seriously evaluate the quality of the curriculum and make sure that it meets your standards. Depending upon what curriculum materials are included, the cost can vary.