Tips for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum That You Will Actually Use
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Tips for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum That You Will Actually Use
Does this sound like a familiar scenario? You carefully search curriculum and make the perfect choices for each child only to find that less than three months later that was not money well spent. Next thing you know the curriculum isn’t a good fit, your children dread using it, and now you secretly do too.
As a homeschool coach and consultant, I have assisted many families in learning to choose homeschool curriculum that they will use. Because choosing curriculum is a common problem for homeschool families, new and established. There are some essential questions you should ask yourself before making your final curriculum choices. But for many of us, myself included; choosing curriculum that we will use, took time to learn how to find the perfect fit. Years of trial and error for some. But that is no way to spend your homeschooling journey. We all want to enjoy the home educating process, not struggle from subject to subject and day to day using curriculum that does not serve us well.
I encourage you to use the following list of tips when searching for homeschool curriculum. I use this same process when working with homeschool families to help them find curriculum that will fit their family’s homeschooling needs and lifestyle. Every family is unique, with unique needs and students. We have to stop mimicking what our friends are doing or what works for someone else, and instead, learn to choose what will fit our own needs best.
Here Are 5 Essential Tips for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum That You Will Actually Use
1. Does it mesh well with your child’s learning style? I have seen it done over and over, rather than choosing a curriculum that meshes best with how your child learns, parents, keep choosing the curriculum that they like for whatever reason. Above all things when selecting curriculum, we should look to our students first. Asking ourselves will this serve my student well? Does it work with his or her learning style? Is it engaging for that particular student? If our overall goal is to cultivate a love of learning for our students, and we want them to enjoy homeschooling, then we should help them learn in a way that comes naturally to them. For example, if you have a child that is a hands-on learner then why not foster that and learn with hands-on projects and activities. If you have not explored your child’s learning styles yet, I encourage you to take some time to determine how they learn best. Not only will this save you money on curriculum (or not wasting money on the wrong curriculum) it will also save time and frustrations. If your child is crying or dreading a subject every day, think about switching to a curriculum that might seem more exciting and engaging to them based on their natural learning styles.
2. Does it work with mom’s personality? This one may sound funny to you at first, but follow me. Have you ever tried to teach from a lesson plan or teacher’s manual and you had a hard time wrapping your head around the instruction yourself? So if mom has a hard time understanding it, how well can she teach it? This is no way means that mom is “dumb” what it says is that – just like people have a preference in ice cream flavors, one tastes better to you than others. The same is true for curriculum. Some are easier to wrap your brain around than others. If my personality is organized and systematic then that type of instruction may work well for me, however, if I am more of a laid-back personality then maybe I shouldn’t try to homeschool with an academically rigorous type lesson plan. So think about how your personality meshes with the curriculum, if it is difficult to follow and execute for you, then it’s likely that you won’t teach in a way that engages your student in the subject either.
3. Does it mesh with your lifestyle? If you are in a season of babies, working outside the home, or a significant life change; consider this before choosing curriculum. Make choices that will work with where you are in life and not against your pace of life. If you enjoy slow days and purposeful learning, then make decisions that align with that, but if you know your time will be limited for a semester or homeschool year, you may want to adjust your choices to reflect that.
4. Don’t fall into the mimicking trap. It is easy to go with a curriculum choice because your girlfriend recommends it. Or make an impulse buy because a blogger you follow mentions it, but always revert to the above three tips. Why? Your girlfriend may be great, but her children aren’t your children. Your family and lifestyle are unique, so we should be intentionally choosing a curriculum that works for us. It may take a bit more time to research and investigate, but customizing your children’s education is worth it.
5. Don’t marry your curriculum. When you realize that you have made a curriculum choice that isn’t working, please don’t suffer through it until the end. That is not what homeschooling should look like, suffering through the same subject day after day and you and your students are all hating it. If it’s time to make a change, do it before you drive your child to dislike homeschooling completely. No, every day won’t be perfect and or easy, but we can control what curriculum choices we use. So if you know that the curriculum is not doing its job, and the role of your curriculum is to serve you well; then it’s time to switch or tailor it to your homeschool. You can pull from a curriculum choice what you like and leave the rest; there is not a law that you must use every page and activity from each textbook or curricula choice. Use what you want and leave what doesn’t work. It’s that easy.
I hope these tips will help you moving forward when choosing curriculum for your homeschool. We have to remember that our curriculum is not something we must follow page by page, we can use it to our advantage by customizing it to our homeschools. You want the curriculum to serve you and your family well. Best of luck choosing a curriculum that you will actually use with the above tips.
I created a workbook to walk you through the basics of setting a foundation for your homeschool. I encourage you to take a look and see if it may help you determine your child’s learning style and dig a bit deeper to help you customize your homeschool to your family’s needs.