These days as homeschoolers we are very fortunate. There are so many different resources available. Some are costly, others are free, and there are a host of choices in between. There are curricula that focus on different learning styles. Interest based learning curriculum can be found with a quick internet search. There are on-line programs, video teaching, traditional texts, living books, unit studies, guides to unschooling. The possibilities are endless! And this is a good thing, right? Well….
It is good to have choices. So many resources provide options to find what suits your family and each of your children. But it can be distracting and overwhelming as well.
So, how do you narrow your choices?
I wish there was a super quick formula that I could place right here to help with the decision. But it comes down to knowing your family and what would work best in your lifestyle. And then comes what works best for each of your children.
This doesn’t mean you’re on your own, but even the best most accurate review isn’t going to be helpful if it’s not the right program for you.
Before looking at curriculum and asking around for suggestions, I recommend looking at what goes on in your home. Does your family prefer to be outside exploring? Is the household energetic, constantly on the go? Are there little ones at home that need attention?
Write down what your life is like right now.
What can you feasibly do in a day? Are you only available for certain hours each day? Does that vary? Write it all down.
From this information, you begin envisioning the practical homeschool. That doesn’t mean boring. However, we all have this ideal of what we’d like homeschooling to be. The one rather large issue that can derail that ideal is real life. Happiness comes in creating a realistic homeschool, rather than trying to bend and twist your lifestyle into a schedule or curriculum just because you think that’s what life should be.
Observe your child.
Once you have a pretty clear idea of what you can do as a homeschooling educator, it’s time to observe your children. What do they gravitate to? What interests them? What subject material comes easily to them, and which is more challenging?
How we chose our math program.
As an example, math changed for my son quite a bit over the first few years of homeschooling. The very early years, we were simply finding math in our environment and interacting with it that way. We moved on to a more formal study, think textbook mathematics after that. It was okay. He went through it pretty quickly, but I didn’t see much interest in the subject. And the thing was, he was really good at math. I also happen to enjoy math. So, I looked for something that would be more than just learning the problems, solving them, and moving on to the next topic. He needed more. He was in need of a challenge, and hopefully a spark.
In researching and reviewing, I came across the Life of Fred books by Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt. The lessons are broken into chapters. They tell the story of a boy named Fred, and they teach mathematics. My son loves to read. These were a perfect fit for him. He enjoyed the stories and he enjoyed the math. Now, I don’t know if this is the way we’ll continue with math, but at this time of life, this is the right curriculum for him.
This is why I recommend looking at your family and children first. Hopefully, this will give you a solid idea of what would work for your family before reading through the many programs and reviews. There are so many because each family has a different approach and each child has different needs. The right method, is the one that works for you and your family. A simple concept, but a challenge to achieve.
Preview Before Purchasing – A Good Idea
Fortunately, many curriculum resources give sneak peaks and even a chapter or two for you to examine prior to purchasing it. I would strongly recommend getting as much information about a curriculum before purchasing it.
To help with cost, something to keep in mind, some libraries do carry curriculum that you can borrow. And there are even places where you can rent homeschool materials. It’s also a good idea to watch for sales that crop up.
So, as you see, there’s no simple formula in the very individualized world of homeschooling. Consider your lifestyle, your child’s interests, and what types of things help to spark interest. And use these factors as you peruse reviews, guides, and samples of the different materials that will help you reach your goals.