What is the best homeschool curriculum?
What homeschool curriculum should I use (and where can I get homeschool curriculum help)?
Should I look at an online homeschool curriculum or a boxed homeschool curriculum package?
Do I need to read a bunch of homeschool curriculum reviews or can I just buy one?
Or, do I even really need homeschool curriculum packages? (Can’t I just do it on my own?)
Are there free homeschool curriculum (or homeschool resources or homeschool websites for free) available?
Time4Learning. Classical Academic Press. Calvert Education. Gryphon House. Sonlight Curriculum. Outschool. Mennonite Homeschool Curriculum. Abeka Homeschool Curriculum. (And SO MANY MORE):
What are the top curriculum providers and top picks for homeschool curriculum packages and affordable homeschooling online?
DON’T MISS YOUR FREE CURRICULUM WORKBOOK AT THE END OF THIS POST! IT WILL TAKE YOU STEP-BY-STEP HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM FOR EACH OF YOUR CHILDREN! (YAY!)
That’s A LOT.
Is your homeschool head spinning yet?
(If you’re wondering How do I sign up for homeschooling? START HERE before reading the rest of this post.)
What if I told you that you’re starting out by asking the WRONG homeschool curriculum questions?
You’ve likely heard (or thought) one or more of the questions we listed above because choosing the best homeschool curriculum is one of the biggest homeschooling questions (and it drives most homeschool parents insane).
However, searching for a homeschool curriculum can be a time and energy suck and leave you frustrated.
BUT . . .
. . .MOST HOMESCHOOLING MOMS AND DADS GO ABOUT IT THE WRONG WAY.
But, I HAVE GREAT NEWS!
Searching for the best homeschool curriculum doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused. . .
We’re going to walk through the BEST HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM questions to ask so that you’re not:
- Wasting time.
- Wasting money.
- Making mistakes.
HOWEVER . . .
Before we proceed, let’s start with the basics:
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THIS IS PART 9 IN OUR SERIES FOR NEW HOMESCHOOLERS.
What Is Homeschool Curriculum?
A homeschool curriculum is a set of learning materials for a particular topic or groups of topics. A homeschool curriculum can be made up of “boxed” materials, where you get everything in one box to learn about that topic. For example, you may receive a textbook, a student workbook, and a teacher’s manual in a boxed curriculum. There are also computer-based homeschool curriculum (homeschooling online) where the student works through a homeschool program or subject using the internet.
So, what is the best homeschool curriculum (and how do you know it’s right for your family)?
Honestly, it depends on a few things.
(And, I want you to figure these things out before you go searching for a bunch of homeschool curriculum reviews, OK? You’ll thank me later. I PROMISE.)
Choosing the Best Homeschool Curriculum [VIDEO]
How do I choose a homeschool curriculum?
Choosing the best homeschool curriculum will depend upon factors that are specific to your family. When choosing a homeschooling curriculum, keep these important things in mind:
- What are the curriculum requirements for your state. (Always check your state laws before doing anything else with homeschooling!)
- How many kids are you homeschooling?
- What type of curriculum do you want? (Online, boxed, all-in-one, independent, etc.)
- What subjects or topics does the homeschool curriculum need to cover?
- How do your children best learn? (And, how do you “teach” or lead?)
- What is your budget?
Homeschooling parents spend a crazy (and frustrating) amount of time on the topic of homeschool curriculum packages.
Don’t believe me?
Scroll through any homeschooling group on Facebook and you will see dozens and dozens of posts on the topic of homeschool curriculum.
If you’re new to homeschooling (or just researching how to get started homeschooling), this one topic alone can be enough to make you throw up your hands and say, “FORGET ABOUT IT!”
But, I have some great news!
We’re not going to get overwhelmed or get bogged down in all of that!
Instead, I’m going to show you how to FOCUS and MOVE FORWARD so that you FINALLY find the best homeschool curriculum for your child (without going insane).
Let’s get started!
In this post Choosing The Best Homeschool Curriculum – a Homeschooling 101 (aka: HELP! What Homeschooling Curriculum Should I Use????) we’ll cover:
- BIGGEST mistakes you’re making choosing a homeschooling curriculum.
- Why choosing the best homeschool curriculum is such an issue.
- How FOMO and SHINY CURRICULUM SYNDROME are affecting your homeschooling curriculum choice.
- The #1 thing you MUST do before choosing any homeschooling curriculum.
- Why you should let go of the homeschool curriculum comparison chart.
- How to FINALLY choose the right (BEST) homeschool curriculum.
(& some other really, really helpful information)
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Before we move on, I want to address something.
Have you ever wondered why homeschoolers spend so much time trying to choose the right homeschool curriculum package only to switch to another homeschool curriculum and then switch again?
(And over, and over, and over.)
I believe the non-stop best homeschool curriculum search boils down to two things:
1. Homeschool Curriculum FOMO, and
2. Fear of Failure.
As homeschoolers, we have a lot of pressure.
I mean, we are taking our child’s entire education into our own hands.
That means when it’s a success, we get the kudos, but when it’s a failure, there’s only one person to blame:
(OK. Breathe for a moment . . .)
This pressure sometimes leads to a fear of homeschooling failure that, in turn, can lead to bad decisions because of something called FOMO, or fear of missing out.
I happen to think that homeschool FOMO also leads to something that I like to call SCS, or SHINY CURRICULUM SYNDROME.
When we feel like we’re failing in homeschooling, we start to look for the next BIGGER and BETTER thing to make our homeschooling a success.
It goes something like this:
OOOO! The homeschool group said to try this curriculum! Maybe that’s what we need!
OH! Look at that homeschool curriculum! It’s a BESTSELLER!
OOOO! This curriculum has a coloring book that goes with it! Maybe that will work better!
And on and on and on until you’re sobbing into your coffee cup at 3:27 a.m. because you’ve just spent seven hours searching online, reading homeschool curriculum reviews, asking other homeschool parents, and pouring over homeschool curriculum price comparisons until–guess what?–you still have no idea what to do.
I know because I’ve been there.
I’ve spent the hours and hours researching and discussing and gnashing teeth.
Now, when we’re ready to start a new homeschool subject, I no longer do the homeschool FOMO/SCS dance.
Instead, I become laser focused on exactly what we need to meet our needs.
And, it’s relatively painless whenever I have to search for a new homeschool curriculum or course.
Now, I’m going to give you the homeschool curriculum help that you need so that you can jump off that crazy curriculum merry-go-round, too!
Read on to learn how I do it . . .
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How To Decide What Homeschool Curriculum Is Right For Me:
10 Simple Steps to Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 1. Understand what homeschool curriculum you are required to use.
The first thing you need to do before even researching or changing curricula is to understand what is required by your state or area. You can do this by researching the homeschool laws for your state (or area).
If you are required to use a specific curriculum or to follow specific guidelines for homeschool curricula, then that takes a lot of the pain out of your search for the top picks for homeschool curriculum.
If you are not required by state laws to follow a specific homeschool curriculum, that’s where it gets tricky.
You’ve noticed by now that the homeschool curriculum search is overwhelming (that’s why you’re here, after all, right?).
The trick is to find the perfect curriculum for your family while not losing your sanity.
Sounds amazingly easy, right?
To do this you need to become crystal clear on what you need (including the requirements from your state) and then follow very specific steps (like the ones below) to keep from being overwhelmed and purchasing (or using) curricula that won’t work longterm for you and your family.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 2. Understand how your kids learn.
Remember those old school learning style labels? You know, visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners (who have to do some physical things while learning).
Although there is some controversy now over whether there really are particular “learning styles” for each person, I firmly believe that everyone has preferred methods of learning.
(And this comes from not just being a homeschooling parent, but also being a college adjunct professor and in academia for over 17 years!)
When thinking about how children learn remember that you may not have just an auditory learner or just a visual learner, but you may have a child who prefers one of the methods over the other.
For example, maybe your child prefers to listen to lessons (auditory) over seeing or reading the lessons (visual).
Understanding how your child learns is a very important part of the homeschool curriculum process. If you understand how your child BEST learns, you eliminate choices.
THIS MEANS YOU WON’T WASTE MONEY ON CURRICULA THAT DOES NOT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY.
For example, if your child likes to move around a lot, or doodle while learning, having him sit at a desk for hours on end completing workbooks is probably not setting your family up for homeschool success.
Take a minute and think about how your child likes to learn (or each of your children). If you’re unsure, spend a week or so observing your child. Is she more of a quiet, in-the-corner reader type? Does he like technology and prefers watching videos online? Does your child need your complete involvement with very little independent studying?
These are the kinds of factors you need to consider when looking for the best homeschool curriculum.
If your child hates to read but you provide a curriculum that is text heavy with a lot of reading comprehension, then you’re not going to use that curriculum for long because you and your child will quickly become frustrated.
You can cross off an entire category of curriculum just by knowing that your child hates to read a lot.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 3. Understand how you “teach.”
I think this step is just as important as understanding how your kids best learn.
I also think that this is a step that is often skipped by parents and then it causes them to switch curriculum mid-year (or multiple times throughout the year).
Take a moment and consider how you like to guide your children during homeschooling. Do you want to be involved in every single subject in more of a “teacher” aspect, side-by-side your child? Or, do you want (or need) your child to do more independent studies, with minimal involvement from you?
This is an important step to consider because if you need your child to do independent studies because you also work from home during the day (or another reason), choosing a homeschool curriculum package where you need to be involved in every step will also set you and your child up for failure.
Now we’ve eliminated yet more categories of homeschooling curriculum just by understanding how you want/need to be involved in your child’s learning and how your child best learns.
See how we’re becoming more focused on finding the right homeschooling curriculum?
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 4. Know your budget (and stick to it).
OK, let’s recap for a second on what we’ve discussed so far:
• You reviewed your state law requirements.
• We’ve talked about how you need to understand how your child best learns.
• Then, we covered how you best “teach.”
• Now, let’s consider your budget.
Packaged homeschooling curriculum, books, and online courses can quickly add up–some are even into the hundreds of dollars.
Without specific planning, buying a homeschool curriculum can even break the budget, especially if you are homeschooling more than one child on varying subjects and curricula.
YOU MUST GO INTO YOUR CURRICULUM RESEARCH KNOWING YOUR TOTAL BUDGET.
You need to consider the budget for each child, budget per curriculum, and total budget. And then, NO MATTER WHAT, you need to stick to that budget.
Even if you find the OMGosh PERFECT CURRICULUM.
(Remember SCS that we discussed at the start of this post?)
If it’s out of your budget, you need to move on because it isn’t the perfect curriculum for your family.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 5. Determine your curriculum topics and type.
Before moving forward and searching for a homeschool curriculum (including reading homeschool curriculum package reviews–you’re not ready yet!), you also need to create a tentative homeschool schedule for each child.
Your schedule should include the topics each child will cover for the current (or upcoming) homeschooling year.
If you make a column on one sheet of paper for each child and then list out their subjects for the year, it is easier for you to see if there is an overlap.
Any overlap means that you can buy one curriculum and share among the group — you’ll just need to adapt the learning for each age or stage.
For example, if you’re using the same history curriculum for a 6 year old and a 12 year old, maybe while the 12 year old writes an essay on the topic then the 6 year old can draw a scene (or make a lap book) about the topic.
Also, when researching, STAY FOCUSED. If you just need a math curriculum, why are you spending time looking at that cool online spelling curriculum with all the bells and whistles?
Once you have a better understanding of the topics your children are going to learn, it’s time to consider what type of curriculum you would like.
Consider these when searching for the best homeschool curriculum:
• Do you want an all-in-one (“boxed”) curricula that covers multiple topics (English, Math, etc.) where you get all the materials shipped to you?
• Are you looking for an online or video-based curriculum?
• Do you want a homeschool curriculum that helps you track grades and progress?
• Are you OK with mixing and matching curricula (using one curriculum for math, another for language arts, etc.) to find the best combination?
Again, when thinking about TYPE of curriculum (boxed, online, etc.), you need to keep in mind the requirements for how your children learn and how you “teach.”
THOSE ARE THE TOP 5 STEPS YOU MUST FOLLOW TO GET THE BEST HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM FOR YOUR FAMILY.
Even though those are the most important steps to follow when choosing a homeschool curriculum, there are also a few more important steps I want to share with you that will help in your curriculum search.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 6. Stop asking for advice.
Yeah, you read that right.
I want you to stop asking for homeschool curriculum advice in your homeschooling groups and at meet-ups.
The problem with asking for homeschool curriculum advice is that every homeschooling parent is giving you input based on THEIR needs, not YOUR needs.
Let that sink in for a moment.
So, we forget that when someone is singing the praises of a homeschool curriculum that they mean it is great for them.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to check off all the boxes that you need for your family.
IF (big IF) you are going to ask for homeschool curriculum advice, ask one or two close homeschooling friends.
Posting your request for input in a Facebook group or on other social media will give you an overwhelming (and often conflicting) amount of input . . . and that’s not a good thing.
(More information is not necessarily always your friend. Sometimes it’s just MORE.)
Remember, you want to remain clear and focused during this process. Having a ton of information and different viewpoints can sometimes distract you.
I know it sounds like you should be doing the opposite (and getting as much feedback as you can), but can you trust me on this one and skip asking in social media groups?
You’ll thank me later.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 7. Put a time limit on your homeschool curriculum research.
Don’t just brew up a nice cup of tea and sit down in front of your laptop for the evening to research homeschool curriculum.
Hours later, you will find that you’ve fallen down the homeschool curriculum rabbit hole and you can’t get out.
And, chances are, you will be none the wiser (but you’ll be plenty frustrated).
Instead, set 30-minute timer for each homeschool curriculum or child.
If you need a math curriculum for Johnny, search ONLY math curricula that meets Johnny’s specific needs (and your “teaching” style).
Once the time is up, move on to the next curriculum search. Do not spend more than 30 minutes because it will only add to your confusion and overwhelm.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 8. Make swift decisions.
I like to also call this step the Pick Three Approach.
During your 30 minute online homeschool curriculum research, take notes on the top three that interest you. It’s so much easier to narrow down your choice from three to one instead of from 15 to one.
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 9. Don’t be afraid to change.
If you happen to choose a homeschool curriculum that doesn’t work for your family, DON’T FEEL DEFEATED.
It happens (and it has happened to the majority of homeschooling parents).
If you followed the steps and still chose the wrong homeschool curriculum, look back over your notes and see if there was a critical step (Steps 1-5) that you missed when purchasing the homeschool curriculum. For example, did you meet the needs of how your kids like to learn, but forget about how you like to “teach”?
Or, sometimes, you may purchase a curriculum but then just realize, sadly, it isn’t very good.
When a curriculum doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to change (or even create your own homeschool unit study).
Changing doesn’t make you a failure. But, changing often should be a warning sign that you are missing something from within the critical first 5 steps that we covered.
Just don’t be a serial curriculum changer!
Choosing Best Homeschool Curriculum Step 10. RELAX.
I’m not trying to be trite when I tell you to relax, but . . . just R E L A X.
You’re not making a life or death choice for your child. You’re choosing a tool to assist your child in learning. When you start to think of it that way, you’ll take some of the pressure off of yourself!
FREE CURRICULUM WORKBOOK
THE ULTIMATE HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM GUIDE
We’ve created a free BEST homeschool curriculum workbook that will walk you through all the steps in the process of selecting a homeschool curriculum so you don’t get overwhelmed!
Click the image below to grab the workbook TODAY.
(I’m not sure how long we’ll keep this free, so be sure to get it while you can!)