Back when the modern homeschooling movement first began, there were only a few curriculum options to choose from, and most of them were Christian private school curriculum publishers who had to be convinced to sell to homeschoolers! Nowadays, homeschool curriculum choices are very different, with the main challenge being choosing from among a growing sea of options! If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, you need these 15 tips for choosing homeschool curriculum!
15 Tips for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
1. Pray, pray, pray! If we seek God for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow His guidance, He has promised to direct our paths (Prov. 3:4 & 5).
2. Set goals. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
3. Think about why you are home educating. Write down your reasons. They may change over the years, but they will help you narrow your choices.
4. Think about the purpose of education. Why should children be educated? So they won’t be a burden to the state (lawmakers’ viewpoint)? So they can earn lots of money? So they can take care of their families? So they can serve God?
A great definition for “education” comes from the Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary: “The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”
5. Think about your philosophy of education. How do children learn best — memorization or exploration? Should we start early or wait “until they are ready?” Do they do best if left to their own devices or with guidance and structure?
6. Learn from others who have home schooled. Read about their experiences and ask questions in conversations! But don’t be swayed by every wind of “truth” that blows. Keep your goals and philosophy in mind.
7. Avoid comparing. We usually compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths and, of course, we come out short.
8. Focus on character. Teaching materials are the least important part of your home school. Attitudes and godly character on the part of parents and children alike is far more important.
9. Take up the charge. Remember, God has given these children to you as a special gift and stewardship. He chose the right parents for the right children. He knows your strengths and weaknesses, and your children’s strengths and weaknesses. You are the only ones that can decide what is right for you and your children.
10. Do not get stuck in analysis paralysis. There is no perfect curriculum. Spending excessive amounts of time and energy trying to find that mythical perfect curriculum will frustrate you and distract you from more important things.
11. Don’t be a slave to your curriculum. Whatever curriculum you choose, remember, curriculum is only a tool. “Any curriculum will work if you do.”
12. Use your tools as you see fit. You don’t have to assign every page and every problem. Assign about half the problems. If the child has mastered the concept, he doesn’t need the practice. If he needs review, you can go back and use the problems previously skipped.
13. Choose curriculum that fits your needs, too. If you don’t like the material, you won’t use it even if everyone else says it is the best.
14. Be aware of how much teacher preparation is needed. You may be in a season where you need to avoid or be very choosy about how much teacher preparation you can take on. Find out how much is involved with each curriculum option you consider.
15. Expect change and be flexible. You are always learning. Don’t feel like a failure if a curriculum does not work. If you are new to homeschooling, consider using a curriculum with a little more guidance for the first year or two until you understand what works best for you, your student, and your situation. You can always change it up later!