As I wrap up my homeschooling year, one of the things I must do by law is to provide an outline of the curriculum choices for the next year. Therefore, you might wonder, how do you choose the best curriculum for your child?
Before you even think about digging in to curriculum and all that goes with it you want to make sure the curriculum is a good fit for you, your child, your family and then your homeschool. In that order.
Before Choosing Your Curriculum:
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices out there. Take your time there is no need to rush.
In talking with experienced homeschoolers many suggested if you are brand new homeschooler, plan for less. You can always add in later.
Some things to consider:
Through experience, these steps need to be taken before you start choosing curriculum because they will influence what direction you choose to take with your curriculum.
For example, if you choose to homeschool because your child has learning needs then you will want to make sure these needs are met with any curriculum you choose.
After you have those things sorted you are prepared to choose a curriculum!
With homeschooling comes freedom, freedom to choose…methods, curricula, etc. There are so many available. There’s in the box, out of the box, online, offline, textbook based, workbook based, unit studies, lap booking, note-booking, co-op and more, just to name a few!
Then mix in methods. School-at-home, relaxed/eclectic, classical, unschooling, Charlotte Manson, Waldorf, Montessori and the list goes on and on. If you are new to homeschooling this can be overwhelming. So many choices!
Kelly shares a complete guide to Homeschooling Styles. If you are looking for more information be sure to check it out!
Breaking Curriculum Choices Down:
Let’s make it simpler by breaking it down. No matter how long I have been homeschooling I like to break it down into 3 basic steps, they are:
1. know what your legal requirements are
2. choose learning and teaching methods
3. choose courses/curriculum
Curriculum Legal Facts:
You need to do this every year as sometimes the “law” changes. For example, in my area, “High School” was always grades 10-12. You had three years to collect 18 needed credits in order to graduate.
This year, they changed “High School” to grades 9-12 and they have yet to decide how many credits you will need to graduate. *waiting is not my thing. Lol
I decided to plan for 6 credits a year. Of course, when I confirmed this with my Homeschooling Department of Education, I was informed since we will not be receiving a diploma at the end of grade 12. There is no need for me to count credits.
Does this mean I won’t be? On the contrary. I feel it is my responsibility as a home educator to make sure my children have reached the goals we set.
One of our goals was to make sure they can attend secondary education if needed or so desired. I called a few colleges and asked what would be required for homeschoolers to attend classes at their school.
I recommend doing this and then taking note of what they say. I also recommend calling a few different educational institutions that your child may be interested in attending. You want to make sure you cover the all the bases. I took note of the name of the institution, person I talked with, the date and all requirements.
So be sure to check each year before you plan out your year. A quick search, usually some sort of Department of Education website, should cover all the legal requirements.
- Fill out the required paperwork.
- Make sure you look through the FAQ for additional information.
- You will also find out what courses of study your child must take, usually core subjects, such as Mathematics, English, History, Social Studies etc. Make sure you keep a list.
I always take a moment to see how the learning style of my child has changed. I haven’t really talked about learning styles and the different types here as there is literally so much information out there.
Below are just three basic styles to consider.
- Auditory Learner-An auditory learner learns through what they hear.
- Kinesthetic Learner-A Kinesthetic Learner learns through hands-on.
- Visual Learner-A Visual Learner wants to be able to see what they are being taught.
Therefore, you need to make sure your program/curriculum choices take the type of learner your child is into consideration.
After finding out what is required, be it a notice of intent or more detailed requirements, the next step is choosing your methods. In the outset, I noted the most common methods available.
Take time to sit down and figure out what might best work for you and your family. This along with a good idea of the way your child learns and your lifestyle should give you a good idea of where to start.
Again, I check each year. Things change. My children change in the way they learn, or our life goes through a change. I went back to work just over a year ago, this had a huge impact on our homeschool life.
Take time to perform a Mid-Year Review to learn where you are in your homeschool. What is working? What’s not?
What we do now is Eclectic (means we use different methods for different subjects, although we are moving to a more on-line approach) So do not be afraid to change, and mix and match. Do what works for you!
I highly recommend sitting down and deciding, how much time you have one-on-one with your child, how motivated your family is, and setting down goals. Write down what you want to accomplish, be it ace a standardized test, or build upon skills. If they are older, consider what your child has planned for the future such as career goals, or are they college bound?
This is my favorite part, researching! Now you know what you need, how you want to teach it, and the goals you have set. You are ready to build your curriculum around the child.
Remember each child is unique what works great for one, may not work so great for another. When you have completed the steps for one child, go ahead and work through them again for the next one.
With your list of courses, start researching. Include the answers to what you have already learned. Include in your research:
- Does this fill the requirements needed?
- Will this fit with my schedule?
- Will this fit my child’s learning style?
- Am I comfortable teaching using this method?
Choosing the Best Curriculum:
Choosing your curriculum for the upcoming year can be an overwhelming and daunting task. However, I always find breaking it down into these easy steps makes it so much easier!
One of the greatest things about homeschooling is being able to teach our child in the best way possible for them! Using these steps will help you find out what that is for your child.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful, along with providing some food for thought. If you have any questions or helpful suggestions please leave a comment below!
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