Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum for Your Child
Whether this is their first year homeschooling, or they have a few years under their belt, homeschool parents across the globe can agree on one thing–choosing the right homeschool curriculum is one of the most challenging aspects of homeschooling. With that challenge, however, comes an incredible privilege to curate and customize your child’s learning path based on their unique interests and learning styles.
And if you worry that you might not find the right fit for your family, let me take that worry away. If there’s any difficulty in choosing a homeschool curriculum, it’s not due to the lack of resources out there. In fact, the sheer number of options to choose from is overwhelming. So, how does a homeschool parent sort through the thousands of different homeschool curriculums and narrow down the right one for their kids?
The staff here at Apologia is sharing with you our tips for how to choose the best homeschool curriculum. We want to come alongside you and help you succeed on your homeschool journey offering you some tips on how to pick homeschool curriculum for your kids. The one that fits where they are at, and that will equip them and you for a successful homeschool year. Learn from our mistakes, take a bit of advice from our seasoned homeschooling staff, and hear from homeschool parents who are on this journey with you.
Become a Student of Your Child
When it comes to choosing a homeschool curriculum, one of the most important things to do is really get to KNOW your kids. Find out how they learn, are they kinesthetic learners? Auditory? Visual? Once you understand how your kids learn best, it will save you time and keep you from wasting money buying resources that will not fit the needs of your child.
If you are unsure how your child learns, take a week and observe your child. How do they approach learning? Do they prefer screens? Watching videos online, or stimulating videos and technology? Or do they prefer a quiet corner alone with a book? Does your child like to work in a group at the table with their siblings? Or do they prefer independent studying and less involvement from others? Observing your child can help you answer these questions.
What are your child’s passions?
The next step to becoming a student of your child is to find out what they want to learn about. Talk to them and find out what their passions are. When a child is excited about what they are learning then school will be so much easier for YOU and them. Homeschooling is really about engaging your kids in active learning and showing them that learning can be fun. And probably most importantly, learning isn’t about memorizing facts for a test. Learning is a process that helps your children understand how their world works, how they are an important part of the world, and how they can work with others to make the world an even more beautiful place.
There are going to be some subjects that your child will have to learn and you will have to teach, like math, reading, and writing. But, there are other subjects like science, literature, and history where you can let your child choose what they may learn about each year. If you have a child who is fascinated with ocean animals they may want to spend the year studying swimming creatures. If you have a child who is fascinated with colonial times you may want to spend the year diving into the Little House books for your literature studies. Give your child a choice about what they want to learn about when possible, and let them have a say in choosing certain aspects of the homeschool curriculum.
Do Your Research and Find Trusted Resources
One of the keys to choosing a curriculum is finding trusted resources where you can do research. Here are a few places to look as you dive into curriculum options:
- Connect with a Local Homeschool Community – Whether it’s a co-op, tutorial, or support group, talking to other homeschool families that you trust is one of the best ways to research curriculum. Ask questions, glean wisdom, and maybe even borrow a few of their books to look at before you make your decision.
- Attend a Homeschool Conference – Homeschool conferences are a wonderful place to find connections to the homeschool community and browse hundreds of curriculum resources all in one place. Check out the conference events Apologia will be attending this year on our events calendar.
- Watch Homeschool Curriculum Review Videos on YouTube – There are so many wonderful curriculum review videos available on YouTube. These videos often show you inside the books as a homeschool mom talks about how they use the curriculum in their homeschool. You can see reviews and flip-throughs of Apologia’s homeschool curriculum on our YouTube channel.
- Read Reviews – Hearing firsthand what someone’s experience was with a curriculum can really help you dial in the right resources for your family. Cathy Duffy Reviews is a great resource for detailed curriculum reviews.
If Your Chosen Curriculum Isn’t Working, Choose Something Else
Now, once you have chosen a curriculum, one of two scenarios will likely happen. The first is that school is smooth sailing, and you and your children have found a great fit. If that is you – congratulations!
However, at some point in your homeschooling journey, it is highly likely that the other scenario will occur, and the homeschool curriculum you chose for one or more subjects will not be the right fit. So, what do you do when the curriculum isn’t working?
Ask yourself why the homeschool curriculum may not be working. Is it too advanced? Not challenging enough? Try looking at the curriculum through the eyes of your child. Then, ask yourself if the problem is the curriculum or that maybe it is not quite the right fit for your child right now. Can you use pieces of the curriculum, and adjust them to fit the needs of your child? Curriculum is just a guide. As the teacher, you have the freedom to make adjustments, cut things out, or add supplements as needed to make it work for your family.
If after evaluation you know that the homeschool curriculum will not work, you can shelve it for a different child, sell it to purchase something else, or donate it. The key is to remember what is best for your child, and that may not be the curriculum you are currently using. There is no such thing as perfect and what works for one family, may not work for yours. What works for one of your children, may not work for the next child. If the curriculum you decide on doesn’t work – ditch it! Don’t let the wrong curriculum cause negativity or drudgery in your homeschool. Move on and find something that will work better for your student’s needs or learning styles.
We hope this post has given you some good insight into how to pick a homeschool curriculum. Remember dear momma, that choosing a homeschool curriculum is just one factor in homeschooling. Don’t let yourself get stuck on the hamster wheel of trying to find perfection, and constantly second-guessing yourself. Once you’ve done the work, go with your gut, make a choice, and do your very best with it! Homeschooling is an amazing learning journey not just for your kids, but for you too! You will learn and grow, become more confident, and discover that you are indeed more than equipped to lead your children’s education.
Whether you are thinking about homeschooling, are getting started with homeschooling, or have been on the path for a while, you’ll be encouraged and inspired by the ebooks Welcome Home and Curriculum Planning Guide. They are both packed with homeschool information and encouragement from Apologia.