How to Choose A New Homeschool Curriculum
Choosing a new homeschool curriculum can be a scary task for some homeschoolers. Even veteran homeschoolers can find the task daunting—especially if they’ve been using the same curriculum for a few years. I remember when our first curriculum stopped working for my son. He was no longer engaged with the lessons and had absolutely no desire to complete his work for the day. But hey, this stuff happens when you are a homeschooler. And as you become more experienced, you adapt.
At first, I got a little panicky but then I realized that there are many different curricula options available. With so many possibilities to choose from, I knew I could find something that would fit my son’s learning style and keep him engaged enough to want to complete his assignments. It wasn’t long before I found a mix of different options that interested him and allowed us to switch up our homeschool day quite a bit.
If you’re keeping an eye out for some new curriculum ideas this back-to-school season, check out these steps for making the task less stressful and more fun!
Ask Yourself Some Questions Before You Buy
Before you spend your hard-earned money on a curriculum program, think about what will best suit your child’s learning style. My child loved using books and workbooks when he was younger; but as he got older, he found them pretty boring. He became more of a hands-on learner, so we started using an online program, which was much more interactive and exciting.
You should also think about what you and your child want from the curriculum. Do you want a program that includes built-in lesson plans and an automatic grading system, or are you prepared to create lesson plans for the entire year? Either way, here are some other questions you should answer.
- Does your child prefer independent learning or a teacher-led method?
- Does he or she prefer traditional textbooks or a more dynamic approach with an online learning tool?
- Does your child prefer structure or does he/she prefer a more relaxed environment?
- What is your child’s main learning style?
Once you get a better feeling for what your child prefers, you can make an informed decision. It took me a couple weeks to find the right combination. Consequently, I didn’t have everything perfectly prepared for the new year. With that in mind, don’t procrastinate or you may find yourself facing the same predicament.
The Five Main Curriculum Options
Experienced homeschoolers know that there’s not a one-size fits all curriculum. As I said, I chose a mix of options, which kept my son’s imagination stimulated. I discovered that it’s not one program versus another; they can work in harmony. These are the top five choices.
- Online curricula: Most kids enjoy video games on phones and tablets. If your children share that same trait, an online curriculum makes perfect sense. Some online educational systems have web-based multimedia lessons. They may even include automatic grading, interactive activities, and printable worksheets to supplement the lessons with.
- Traditional textbooks: Teaching from textbooks might be your cup of tea, especially if you learned that way. Textbook packages often include resource materials such as a scope and sequence, and an educator’s manual. They may also include a student book with content explanations and examples.
- Literature-based curricula – This system incorporates living books (both classic and contemporary) into the teaching of subjects.
- Unit studies – Many parents use this style for single subjects. But some families build their whole curriculum program using unit studies. They often include an outline, and parents are responsible for gathering the books and materials.
- Video curricula – Watching videos of teacher-led courses is also popular. It usually mimics the instruction a child might receive in a regular classroom.
You may discover other options as you investigate what programs will work best for your kids. I’m a big believer in variety, but if you’re more comfortable with one option, then that’s the right choice for you.
Take a Test Drive
A homeschooling friend once told me that, if the curriculum company won’t give you at least a brief chance at testing out their program, they’re not worth your time. I never thought about it before, but my friend’s right on the money! Some companies provide free online demos or trials that allow you to test out the curriculum before you buy it.
Whatever the case, before you invest your money, make certain the curriculum and supplements you choose fit your child’s learning needs. I know many new homeschoolers quickly run out and buy the latest and the greatest, because they want their kids education to be awesome. But in only a few weeks, they find that their money was wasted—not because the programs are bad, but because they’re a bad fit.
Choosing a new curriculum is always a challenge but once you put these steps into action, I hope that you’ll find the process more exciting than stressful. Keep in mind that talking with your kids about the curriculum options is always a good idea. After all, they’ll be the ultimate judges once they start using it. Good luck and have a great school year!
How Time4Learning Can Help!
If online learning or a unit study approach sounds like a good fit for your family, Time4Learning can help! With lesson demos, free trials, and economical pricing, Time4Learning offers a learning solution that is fun for students and helpful to parents.