Homeschooling has long been a common learning system adopted by parents for children. However, if you are new to it, you may be unfamiliar with how it works, how you can select a curriculum, or where you should begin in the first place. Choosing the best homeschool curriculum is important for any homeschooling parent since it ensures that your child gets proper guidance and education.
It can be challenging to select the right homeschool curriculum for your child since you have to consider several factors. You want to make sure that your child gets his or her educational needs in an understandable way. The last thing you want is to spend on a homeschooling curriculum and find that your child did not learn anything or get any valuable takeaways.
With the onset of the Internet, the good news is that you now have access to plenty of resources to help you with your child’s homeschooling needs. However, the bad news is that there are potentially millions of curriculums to choose from, making the decision much harder than it seems.
While everyone’s decision-making process may vary based on different factors, you can certainly take a few tips to help you filter your options quickly. Below, you will find a guide to help you find the best homeschool curriculum for your child. From the factors to consider in your selection, along with the things you should look for, here is some information that can help you save time and effort.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Curriculum
No curriculum will suit every child since every homeschooling parent and child have different situations and cases. As such, here are the things you should consider when browsing through curriculum options:
- Your Child’s Learning Style
Every child’s learning style is different. Some may be receptive to audiovisual materials, whereas others may be more receptive to reading or writing activities. Among all the things to think about, this factor is one of the most important. You can choose one of the top homeschooling curriculums, but it will prove to be a futile effort if it does not match your child’s learning style.
Keep an eye out on what type of learning your child prefers and enjoys. Perhaps he or she learns better when information is presented through games or movement, or he or she enjoys answering things in workbooks. Aside from this, it also helps to know areas that your child may struggle in, so you can put more attention on these or eliminate them if possible.
- Your Teaching Style
Although your child is the one who will be learning through materials provided by the homeschooling curriculum, you will be the one teaching these to them. Thus, it is equally important to consider your teaching style or preferences.
If a specific curriculum suits your child’s learning style but does not necessarily match your teaching style, try to find tools to help you meet learning outcomes. For example, you may find several apps to create flashcards or visual presentations, which can help you present information in a more digestible manner.
- Your Priorities
As a homeschooling parent, you will have unique priorities or goals for your child’s learning. Do not be worried if you feel like these are constantly changing, as that is completely normal. Try to think about your priorities for the year. Do you want your child to hone their speaking skills, or focus more on analytic subjects like math? Is there a particular language you want to introduce based on your family culture?
Whatever your priorities may be, knowing them can help you understand where to put your emphasis. By focusing on these priorities, you can maximize the curriculum’s learning outcomes and save time and effort from having to go through too many options.
- Your Child’s Interests
The beauty of homeschooling is that you get to explore different learning interests beyond the walls of a school classroom. Naturally, you will have to introduce a few fixed subjects, but you always have room to squeeze in your child’s interests. Allow your child to take part in searching for the best homeschool programs so that they can enjoy the process of learning.
Homeschooling provides a sense of autonomy that makes it possible for a child to develop passions and hobbies. You can check out several methods that promote interest-based learning, all of which encourages children to explore and discover their interests.
- Your Time
Think about how much time you can allot for homeschooling each day. Realistically speaking, having as many as eight subjects a day may be difficult to accomplish. At the same time, your child may feel overwhelmed learning that much daily.
When considering your time, try to think of how many hours you can allot for teaching and how many hours of active learning your child can handle. If you are busy and do not have a lot of time on your hands, you can opt for a more hands-off curriculum where most of the work is independent.
- Your Budget
At the end of the day, the budget should still be a top consideration. Plan out how much you can afford to spend on your child’s home school curriculum. The last thing that you want is to find the perfect curriculum but discover that it costs more than your budget. Before you even get started with the search, have a clear budget in mind.
There is often a misconception that more expensive curriculums mean they are better. However, the truth is that cost is not directly related to quality, so you need not worry if you are working with a limited budget. With millions and potentially billions of options to choose from, you will find a ton that suits your budget.
Check Out a Handful of Reviews
Reviews can be extremely helpful in guiding you with your curriculum selection, but it is also important to understand how a curriculum fits into the context of your child and family. You may find a ton of positive reviews from bloggers and forums online, but if the curriculum does not match your child’s learning preferences, then it will be ineffective.
To ensure that you choose the right curriculum, you can make a list of your top homeschooling curriculums for each subject. Narrow down your options to about two or three since it can be time-consuming and tedious to have more than that. Once you have your list ready, you can start reading different reviews to learn more about them. You can also talk to some homeschool moms you may know personally, so you get more in-depth insights.
As you go through reviews, be mindful of what homeschooling parents liked and did not like about a specific curriculum. Read about their experience and see how it fits into you and your child’s situation. Take into account the reviewer’s context and the child’s learning preferences since this can affect your experience with a particular curriculum.
After going through a handful of reviews, you should be able to get a better idea of what your top option is. Take note that every curriculum has its pros and cons, so it will be up to you to gauge these and determine. Narrow down your options slowly until you find the best curriculum for each subject.
Choosing a Curriculum with Your Situation in Mind
Every family, household, or homeschooling parent works with different circumstances, and it is important to consider these when selecting a homeschooling curriculum. As you browse through your options, think about the situation you will be in once your child starts his or her homeschooling.
For example, why did you choose homeschooling in the first place? It could be because of the added opportunities, such as flexibility and autonomy, that traditional school settings do not usually have. In some cases, you may be a short-term homeschooler, where you only intend to homeschool your child for some time before they return to their regular classes.
Another thing to ask yourself is if you have a particular goal in mind when you decide to homeschool your child. Perhaps it could be preparation for the future and equipping them with skills and knowledge for potential career paths. It could also be filling in the gaps or solving problems that you have observed in school.
Whatever your situation may be, it should always be part of your considerations when choosing a curriculum. If you are dealing with time or money constraints, you can look for cheaper curriculums or homeschool programs while on a budget. If your child is already taking some form of classes through a co-op, you will only need to find a curriculum for subjects not yet taught.
What to Look for in a Curriculum
If you want to find the best homeschool curriculum, you have to look for specific things and see how they fit your context and situation.
- Quality Content
Take your time looking through the content that each curriculum offers. Check out the range of topics included, and see if they are suitable for the level proposed or perhaps adjusted for specific learning needs. Quality content should be at the top of your list when looking for a homeschool curriculum since this will be the very foundation of your child’s learning.
- Suitable Style
Each homeschool curriculum takes on a different approach. Some may focus on textbooks and worksheets, while others may focus on engagement through a set of more external or group-based activities. When choosing a curriculum, you want to make sure that you and your child are comfortable with its approach. This way, your child will enjoy learning, and you will also enjoy teaching.
Some homeschool curricula are delivered online, while others are focused on activities and projects. Think about the delivery that suits you and your child best. Does the online setting align with your goals and preferences, or are you more inclined to encourage your child to explore the outside world?
In selecting the best homeschooling curriculum, there is no right answer. In fact, it is because there is no right answer that there are so many options for you to choose from. Homeschooling acknowledges the differences in students’ learning styles and parents’ teaching styles, as well as overall differences in circumstances, which call for unique needs for every parent and child.
Alternatives to Formal Homeschool Curriculum
If you are new to the whole homeschooling system, you may not be aware that some people take other approaches rather than the formal homeschooling curriculum. Many suggest that your child undergo a period of deschooling when transitioning from school to homeschool. As the term implies, deschooling refers to an adjustment period that allows a child to disconnect from the school’s traditional standards.
Allowing a period of deschooling allows a child to get used to not being in school. Transitioning abruptly can lead to consequences, such as resistance and anxiety, so giving them time to take it all in is important. Through this time, they can also start to think about the interests they may want to learn more about with the newfound autonomy of homeschooling authentically.
Aside from deschooling, unschooling has also grown popular among learning styles. It is an informal approach that does not make use of a formal homeschool curriculum. Sometimes called natural learning or experience-based learning, this method instead operates with the principle that children will naturally follow where their curiosity leads them.
Unschooling offers full autonomy to the learner, allowing students to learn whatever they want, whenever they want, and in any way. It strays from traditional learning’s structured approach, allowing learners to follow their instincts to develop their passions.
All in all, the world of homeschooling may seem largely different if you are new to it. However, over time, you will slowly get more acquainted with unique approaches and methods. When it comes to selecting a curriculum, the task may not be the easiest, but with the proper considerations and focus, you will surely be able to find one that suits you and your child.