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kirbymom
How Do You Choose A Curriculum ?
July 30, 2013 at 12:20 AM
How Do You Choose Homeschool Curriculum?

Sometimes choosing curriculum is the basic, overwhelming task facing families each academic year. This guide comes alongside you, offering many resources. This homeschool advice is gathered from our archives here at Curriculum Choice, from the wisdom of our team of review authors and from fellow homeschoolers around the web.

Begin By Defining Your Beliefs and Philosophies

“I search for items that line up with our purpose for homeschooling, and trust God to lead me. Yes, the academics are important, but when I consider our goals, getting an A in calculus isn’t top priority.” I want my children to have godly character. I want my children to know how to think and reason. I want my children to grow in responsibility and self-government.

“Can curriculum really address these deeper heart issues?” How I choose curriculum from Renae here at Curriculum Choice.



Annie Kate, with 15 years of homeschooling experience, turns to Cathy Duffy’s 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum each year. Annie Kate reviewed this just last week here at Curriculum Choice. She says, “101 Top Picks begins by helping you understand and determine your family’s educational goals and needs. Cathy asks questions such as…” She also reviewed 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum in detail on Annie Kate’s Homeschool Reviews.
Brenda shares about writing a family mission statement before considering curriculum choices.
What kind of homeschooler are you? Tips for defining yourself…“When you meet another homeschooler, some of the first questions asked are, “What curriculum do you use?” and “What kind of homeschooler are you?” To new homeschoolers, this can be completely overwhelming and finding your options can literally drown you in information. “


The Homeschool Diner’s Clickomatic Guide to Choosing Your Curriculum. The Click-O-Matic approach to looking at curriculum may help you find just what you’ve been looking for!
Thorough explanation of classical philosophy by Kristen
Renae’s three part series on Principle Approach:
Principle Approach is a Philosophy
Principle Approach is a Method
Principle Approach is a Curriculum – “The mounds of resources quickly become overwhelming. Examining the reason I homeschool gives me a filter to sift the piles of books.”


The Elijah Company has a wealth of online ejournals with advice on choosing curriculum. Here’s a sampling:
Tips for Choosing Materials for Your Homeschool: Ten Rules of Thumb. “But before you actually start looking at products, I’d advise that you revisit some of the basics of what your educational philosophy is, what your family is like, and what teaching and learning styles you have to work with.”
Determining How Your Child Learns Best. In the school for animals, “An old story tells of the creation of a school for the animals. In this school, everybody took the same four courses: flying, swimming, climbing, and running.”
Common Teaching Approaches. “All home schooling materials fall into two main categories: traditional textbook curricula and non-textbook curricula.”
Developing an Educational Philosophy. “There are four educational philosophies influencing home schooling today. Think of these philosophies as the underlying assumptions about what comprises an education and what the teaching materials should cover in a course of study.”
Consider Advice From Veterans

In the Homeschooler’s Simple Guide to Choosing Curriculum at Heart of the Matter, 16-year veteran homeschooler says, ” you do not live in a curriculum ad or vendor hall. You live in your home, with your living, breathing, mess-making, sinful children. And they don’t read curriculum catalogs. So … what’s a mom to do in the face of all the shiny promise of advertisements which sing their siren songs every spring? How are you to determine which curriculum will be right for your family, come the reality of fall?”
Stephanie at Harrington Harmonies, our Curriculum Choice review author, offers Before Choosing Curriculum: Three Things to Consider. “Where are you on your journey? What about goals…”
Barb-Harmony Art Mom, fellow review author, has a mental checklist she employs in Deciding on Resources. Ten things to consider, including, “Will the books and plans allow us to be flexible? and Is there a product out there that will mentor my sons in an area of their interest that I don’t feel qualified to tackle on my own?”
Barb also offers her Goal Setting Process and Some Examples. “For instance, you can make long-term goals and then break them down into steps over a number of years. ”


Curriculum Choices for a Kinesthetic Learner at Hodgepodge. “She loves to make things. Do things. Move. Participate. Give her a display board for a biography report. Let her make a salt dough map. She loves to color while I read. Crafts, creations, busy. That’s her.” Plus organizational ideas to meet the needs of this type learner.
Review author Heather B. encourages with 10 Things to Consider When Choosing Curriculum – “Does it mesh with your child’s learning style? How about your teaching style?”
Our review author, Richele shares Six Things to Consider When Choosing Curriculum – take into account the number of children, a budget plus life circumstances.


I shared my Planning and Goal Setting annual habit for choosing resources and setting goals for each of my five children at Habits for a Happy Home. “I bring along my current favorite spiral notebook and pen. And I rise early and meet with the Lord over matters.” This time is key for considering the big picture before specific curriculum choices.
Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers lists 10 Tips for Starting to Homeschool with great advice on choosing curriculum, considering learning styles and more.
Kris also has a 10 Days series entitled: Homeschooling 101. In her post, How to Homeschool: Choosing Curriculum, she challenges homeschoolers to consider: “What curriculum do you use? What curriculum could you not live without? What curriculum didn’t work for you?“
Then, at the Homeschool Classroom, Kris also offers tips in Choosing Homeschool Curriculum.
Five Js advises on curriculum choices in How to Start Homeschooling.
Hey Donna answers the homeschool newbie question: “Curriculum for Your Kindergartener?”
And, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time on research, Aadel offers these four for navigating:

Tricks to Finding the Best Homeschool Resources
How to Swim Through a Sea of Resources and Find Exactly What You Need
How to Minimize Your Homeschool Shopping
What Do I Need To Start Homeschooling? Resources
Choosing Math Curriculum
10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Math Curriculum from our review author, Mary at Homegrown Learners. Mary’s post includes a video explaining the difference between spiral and mastery approaches.
Math, All Roads Lead to Algebra from Kim at Habits for a Happy Home. “At the end of the day, when your children arrive in eighth grade, in which grade they learned a concept or which method you used to teach the concept doesn’t matter. What matters is that they have now grasped it and are ready for algebra.”
Is Math for Your Child Like a Bath for Your Cat? by Sherri. “But somewhere along the way, math gets hard. It turns into Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus and Trigonometry.”
Photo courtesy Lauren at Mama’s Learning Corner

Changing Curriculum

10 Reasons Why Mama Homeschool Outside the {Curriculum} Box by Lauren Hill at Mama’s Learning Corner points out some of the qualities of boxed curriculum that are not right for her family and may not fit your family as well.
Assess what is not working before you start to plan. 20 Years and No Retirement at Heart of the Matter offers practical advice for assessment.
You may or may not wish to change curriculum. Our review author Cindy has excellent advice in How Do You Plan For Next Year’s Curriculum?
Cindy also answers the frequent question, “How Do You Know a Child is Ready for Next Year’s Curriculum?”
Our review author, Kendra asks, “Have you ever watched people switch curriculum and think they are nuts?” Curriculum Changes
Creating Your Own Resources

Review author, Daniele at Domestic Serenity has wonderful advice on creating book lists for children — for those who create their own lists, whether classical, Charlotte Mason, delight-led learning or another homeschooling type: Building Booklists for Children.
Meet Penny shares resources for free curriculum to use to build your own style in Resources for Free Homeschool Curriculum.

Photo courtesy Kendra @ Aussie Pumpkin Patch
General Curriculum Choices Help

Our review author, Kendra, offers these practical helps: Staying Organized with Curriculum Choices. Also, help before you go to a homeschool conference: Homeschool Conference Plans
Fear Not, Trust and Rejoice by Sherri Johnson at Habits for a Happy Home: “At times like these, it’s easy to feel like you’re making a mistake. Like you’re not qualified to teach your children. Like you’d rather send them to school and just do homework with them in the evenings because you’re afraid you’re going to mes
s them up.”
Our review author, Betsy, suggests Explode the Code as a wonderful resource for beginning phonics.
How to Make An Overall Plan for the Year is a practical guide by Barb-Harmony Art Mom here at Curriculum Choice, as well as her Seasoned Mom Tips on her Harmony Art Mom blog.
Carnival of Curriculum – a list of all our authors’ review indices – all the curricula we have each used and love!
10 Days Ruling Your Curriculum by Rebecca at Mom’s Mustard Seeds offers with days worth of encouragement.
Curriculum Choice Homeschool Helps Pinterest board from around the web – over 150 pins!
Curriculum Choice Encouragement/Scheduling Pinterest board.
Choosing Curriculum Pinterest Board – a great visual and easy reference to many of the posts included in this Ultimate Guide.
Not Back to School Blog Hop – Curriculum Week at iHomeschool Network. Curriculum Choices from hundreds of fellow homeschoolers.
This post is linked with 40 Ultimate Guides and Lists at iHomeschool Network. Be sure to visit and pin all these great resources for reference.

Want help with curriculum choices? We invite you to subscribe to The Curriculum Choice so you won’t miss a review!

Homeschooling for over a decade now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children. She shares a mixture of free art lessons, recipes and helpful homeschool habits at Hodgepodge. Her husband, Steve, also writes reviews here at Curriculum Choice.

I hope you found something that helped you in deciding a curriculum for you and your family.

Replies

  • Bleacheddecay
    July 30, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    I prefer to pick curriculum pieces based in part on my child's best learning styles.

  • kirbymom
    July 30, 2013 at 5:54 PM
    Do you think having multiple styles of schoolwork is helpful?

    Quoting Bleacheddecay:

    I prefer to pick curriculum pieces based in part on my child's best learning styles.


  • Bleacheddecay
    July 30, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Most curriculum's cover more than one style but I def think making sure it is user friendly helps. Most of us may have a "best" learning style but we still can learn by more than one style and do.


    Quoting kirbymom:

    Do you think having multiple styles of schoolwork is helpful?

    Quoting Bleacheddecay:

    I prefer to pick curriculum pieces based in part on my child's best learning styles.




  • No_Difference
    July 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

     It has taken me a few years to truly learning my teaching style, and my kids' learning styles. Once I established that, I looked at programs would fit those best. Next I looked at cost - is it worth the cost? Is it reusable? Do I pay a lot this one time, and next to nothing the next time I use it (meaning it averages out in the end anyway, or I save)? Does it cover everything we want to go over or am I going to have to spend more to suppliment? Then I look at how adapatable it is. Can I not do some of the components if it is too much, or is it easy to add in a project here or there?
    This has lead us to using different individual curriculum versus any full curriculum set. We're trying out a few new things this year, but I think I finally got it! ...hopefully...fingers crossed... lol

  • Precious333
    July 30, 2013 at 6:14 PM
    These are all great points! Im so glad that i found the curriculum I did so.quickly, and we are adding to it as well. Ours is biblically based (very important to me), reusable, flexible and applies to all types of learners and even ages. I feel like i have the freedom to do what i will, yet its very solid as well and covers all subjects.
  • kirbymom
    July 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM
    I think you may be more right than not. :)

    Quoting Bleacheddecay:


  • kirbymom
    July 30, 2013 at 6:23 PM
    Those are some great points you make. :) sometimes I think the overwhelmingness of doing something new and extremely important kinda swamps most of us and these points are something that gets lost in the shuffle.

    I hope you find that you gave hit the jackpot this time and everything works as well as you hope it does. :)




    Quoting No_Difference:

     It has taken me a few years to truly learning my teaching style, and my kids' learning styles. Once I established that, I looked at programs would fit those best. Next I looked at cost - is it worth the cost? Is it reusable? Do I pay a lot this one time, and next to nothing the next time I use it (meaning it averages out in the end anyway, or I save)? Does it cover everything we want to go over or am I going to have to spend more to suppliment? Then I look at how adapatable it is. Can I not do some of the components if it is too much, or is it easy to add in a project here or there?This has lead us to using different individual curriculum versus any full curriculum set. We're trying out a few new things this year, but I think I finally got it! ...hopefully...fingers crossed... lol


  • TidewaterClan
    July 30, 2013 at 8:03 PM

     I chose some of the same materials (math, social studies, music, and art) that she's used at school and I've helped with because I like them so much.  For the others (science, reading, writing, and gym) I chose ones that looked fantastically fun!  Our ancient history and Latin are the two picks that are religious so I can pull the Bible into part of our homeschool. 

  • No_Difference
    July 30, 2013 at 9:11 PM

     Thank you :)

    It honestly took the majority of last year throughout the whole year, to fine tune my list of things. I asked a LOT of questions about certain curriculums, and found as many samples as I could get my hands on once I found about 4 or 5 different programs that I originally narrowed everything down to. My husband was SO annoyed with me lol. "Why are you doing this now?!" (and that was in January!) It made it so much easier to start researching the second I noticed there were problems in how the year was going, so that the final picking before the next school year starts, I was all prepared :).
    The only thing I'm truly on the fence about is our reading and writing - our two new-new programs. I really like how they look and the theory behind them...I just don't know how they'll be executed so I'm a little nervous. (Those are also the two subjects my daughter struggles with the most so they were the "big decisions" for the year). We're tweaking history, math and science are stayign the same.

    Quoting kirbymom:

    Those are some great points you make. :) sometimes I think the overwhelmingness of doing something new and extremely important kinda swamps most of us and these points are something that gets lost in the shuffle.

    I hope you find that you gave hit the jackpot this time and everything works as well as you hope it does. :)




    Quoting No_Difference:

     It has taken me a few years to truly learning my teaching style, and my kids' learning styles. Once I established that, I looked at programs would fit those best. Next I looked at cost - is it worth the cost? Is it reusable? Do I pay a lot this one time, and next to nothing the next time I use it (meaning it averages out in the end anyway, or I save)? Does it cover everything we want to go over or am I going to have to spend more to suppliment? Then I look at how adapatable it is. Can I not do some of the components if it is too much, or is it easy to add in a project here or there?This has lead us to using different individual curriculum versus any full curriculum set. We're trying out a few new things this year, but I think I finally got it! ...hopefully...fingers crossed... lol


     

  • lucsch
    by lucsch
    July 30, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    I use the process of elimination and lots of research, keeping in mind my academic goals, my dd's learning style, my teachingg style, our faith. Thankfully, I've decided on a boxed curriculum, though I am a notorious tweaker and supplementor (I think I just invented a couple of words there)! We will use HOD through high school. I tried aBeka, which showed me textbook/workbook generally is not the method for me, and Sonlight, which was too liberal and freeform for me. HOD is perfect for us.

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