It’s here! One of the favorite times of year of many homeschooling families. No, not spring break – curriculum fair time! It’s also the time of year that leaves many homeschooling families scratching their heads and wondering, “How do we choose curriculum?” With so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming.
The biggest thing to remember when choosing curriculum is that there is no one perfect curriculum; there is only the best fit for your family. My family may have had great success with XYZ math, while it would be a huge flop for your family. Your best friend may have hated ABC phonics, but it might be just the ticket for your young learner. With so much out there, how do you choose what is right for your family?
Discover your style. Two of the first things to consider are your child’s learning style and your teaching style. If your child is a visual learner, workbooks might be the best choice for him. If, on the other hand, your child is a kinesthetic learner, you may want a more hands-on approach. Your voracious reader might enjoy a literature-based curriculum.
Do you, as the teaching parent, need workbooks to stay on track or feel a sense of completion? Maybe you like the sound of a child-led approach, but you need to feel more of a sense of control. If so, unit studies might be the way to go, letting your child pick the topic, while you choose the content.
Educate yourself. Once you’ve narrow down your curriculum choices based on your child’s learning style and your teaching style, you’re ready to see what is available to you. You’ll want to learn as much as you can about your choices and see what others have experienced with them.
Visit the Rainbow Resource website and request a catalog. Often referred to as the “Sears Roebuck” catalog of the homeschooling world, Rainbow Resource offers a huge selection of curriculum choices. However, the treasure of the catalog is its product reviews. Each product has a detailed review from someone who has actually used the curriculum.
Next, be sure to visit The Curriculum Choice for personal and detailed reviews of a wide variety of homeschool curriculum by homeschooling mom bloggers. that they’ve used, telling why they did or didn’t like it and how it worked with their child.
Ask! Ask other homeschoolers what they’ve used, whether they liked or disliked it and, most importantly, why. The very reason that a certain piece of curriculum didn’t work for one family may be the reason that it will work for yours. Word-of-mouth is a great way to find wonderful curriculum treasures.
Get hands-on! Whenever you can, look through the curriculum choices you’re considering. New and used curriculum fairs, new and used book stores, teacher supply stores, and homeschool stores are all great sources for homeschool curriculum. Another great source for getting hands-on are your fellow homeschoolers. Most homeschooling families will welcome you to look through the curriculum that they use. We love to talk about what’s working for us and why!
Buy used. No matter how much research you do, trial and error is inevitable. What sounds great on a website may turn out to be a poor fit for your family. So, I buy used when I can. It’s a whole lot easier to toss something that you got for half-price! In addition to used curriculum sales, websites like Vegsource allow users to place their ads flea market style and you simply pay the price that someone is asking, rather than bidding on as you would on eBay.
Utilize your library. A final thought is to start with the basics and use your library for everything else. A child can explore endless aspects of history and science – even foreign languages – with a library card while you’re making sure that the math, phonics and grammar materials you’ve chosen are the right fit. Once you get the basics down, you can add in curriculum for the other areas of study as you find things that look interesting to you and your children.
What curriculum-shopping tips have you picked up over the years?
Kris is the sweet-tea-drinking, classically eclectic, slightly Charlotte Mason mom to her three Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. You can also find her blogging about having reached the huge milestone of 70 pounds lost on her weight-loss blog, Eclipsed.
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