I hear all the time from families asking what is the best curriculum for a particular subject or grade. They want to know what to buy. I understand this as we want to make sure that what we spend our money on actually has value. There are lots of people who will give you their opinion about what worked for their kids. However, if you listen to them you will learn about what worked for them. There are a LOT of great curriculums out there! I’m not selling any of them.
I can tell you about how my kids learn differently and I wasn’t able to reuse most of it for my younger students because my older and younger students needed different things. One of the best and hardest things about homeschooling is the freedom to do what works best for your students. Some people try to recreate school at home. Although, I don’t recommend this, it’s an option.
So how do you figure out what to use, do, buy, or sign up for? Well that’s the big question right. How do we make sure our students are learning? Before looking at what you should buy you need to take an honest inventory of several things.
1. How does this student learn best?
You may think this is an easy question or one that doesn’t need a lot of thought. I would say this needs to be the central question in your planning and curriculum choices. If you need help with this a consultation can help in this and planning.
2. What kind of time commitment can the student and family put into learning?
Is this a student who will have a person to help with lessons or do they need to be working independently for the most part? If they need to work independently are they driven and be able to succeed in that format or do they need more interaction to be successful? If parents are not able to be available what options can the family consider, tutors, teachers, co-ops, homeschool classes, college classes?
3. How is the students retention on online classwork?
I ask this because I have one student who does okay with online content and one who struggles with it. After trying online classes for state funding we have found that the only thing they seem to conjure in our youngest is tears, frustration, and lack of understanding or learning. Each student is different so that is why it's important to know what works for your student. Some students are happy with online learning and don’t struggle. The key is to know if that is your student or not.
4. Does this curriculum have the world view I am trying to teach my student?
Secular or religious curriculums are available. If there is a worldview you are trying to teach your student then does the curriculum match that view? If you are looking at literature are you looking to include classics, own voices, or just whatever your student has interest in?
5. Recommendations from friends or community members.
I put this here because I think there is a value in being able to talk to other parents who have used something before. They can give you insights into what worked or didn’t for them. If they encountered issues, what they were. You can talk to them about time commitments, hands-on learning options, and more. But remember that each curriculum will not work for every learner and parent so keep in mind what your student and family can do.
There is no one way to homeschool and be successful. Keep in mind that each student and family are different and no matter how great something works for another family, if it isn’t working for yours it's okay to stop and do something else. I have seen parents feel that they must continue with a curriculum that is a bad fit and it never ends well. You may get to the end of the year but it will not have been pleasant. This can do more harm into nurturing a lifetime love of learning than stopping and moving onto something else that fits better.
If you are reading this wondering how to figure out next steps contact me for a consultation.