Today we start naturally with the curriculum. Nowadays, the choices for curriculum are limitless. Someone just starting homeschooling can get quite overwhelmed looking at the amount of choices placed in front of him. Even as veteran homeschoolers, sometimes we still find ourselves quite overwhelmed as there are so many different options that can accomplish the same goal. So how is one supposed to navigate this field? I have a few tips I would like to share with you today, which I hope will help you narrow down your choices and ease the task for you.
Know what you want to accomplish: One way that has helped me to make choices in my curriculum is knowing where I am heading with the boys. When you have a goal in mind it is easier to plot a path, than wondering aimlessly along that same path. When we started homeschooling over 9 years ago we had two main goals:
1) I intend for the boys to be well rounded in their education and prepared to go to college or university if that is what they wanted to do. Whether they end up not doing it or not, is irrelevant, they can still benefit from a rounded education.
2) We want our boys to be critical thinkers and able to evaluate and assess everything around them with the proper lens and through a good thinking process.
These two goals have guided our choices of curriculum and led us to point #2
Pick a homeschool style or method: Another tool that has guided our curriculum choices, and kept us from being always on the fence when it came to the wide choices out there, has been keeping in step with our chosen homeschooling method, which we picked based on our end goal. From the beginning, we associated and related with the classical method of homeschooling or classical education. So my choices have always been guided by how the curriculum fitted into that mold and met what we were looking for in view of what classical education's tenets were. These were things like, memorization, heavy in great books, no busy work, emphasis on developing thinking skills and such.
There are quite a few homeschooling styles out there, but a lot of them are similar, so you can always move between a few, which gives you some flexibility. Also, there is always the eclectic method which is using whatever you think might meet the need, keeping in mind what you want to accomplish. Most people tend to end up with a bent, but do not tie themselves to one particular style or method.
Research your curriculum: This is in my view the most important aspect of the whole curriculum conundrum issue. I will not stress enough the need to research curriculum thoroughly, before deciding on any curriculum. There a few websites I love to check out before deciding. These are:
Cathy Duffy Reviews
Our own Schoolhouse Review Crew
Also a lot of companies offer you samples, make sure you don't miss those. If you can't find them on the website of the company google for them and check Christianbook.com and Rainbow Resources, they often have samples as well.
- Take your budget and family needs into consideration when choosing curriculum. There is no point in getting into debts for your curriculum, there sure are options for your financial needs.
- Consider your child's learning style: does he learn best independently, or with you at his side? Does he learn best though reading, or listening? Does he love workbooks and thrive on them, as opposed to devouring books and learning that way? Is he more hands-on? These are a few things that should factor into your decision.
- Consider how often you are home and your own teaching style.
If you want to know what we are using this coming school year, and what we have used in the past check my Curriculum Line Up tab .
If you are looking for Canadian content to add to your studies this year, The Canadian Homeschooler has an All-Canadian Learning Sale ending today at midnight, so make sure you check it out today!
Also, you can read more about some of the curriculum we have used in the past in these two series:
Virtual Curriculum Fair
5 Days of Curriculum Evaluation