Choosing Curriculum.

I made the plunge and I am going to homeschool.

How do I decide what curriculum I use for each subject?

What subjects do I teach?

I already am homeschooling but need to switch curriculum, what do I switch to?

These are all questions I think every homeschooler has asked.  I know when I started homeschooling I had no idea what to use and knew about two people who were homeschooling.  I was a little loss to say the least.  Fast forward four years and I am feeling a little lost again.  It is time to change up our curricula.  We need a new math, social studies, language arts and spanish curriculum.  We have used the same curriculum for Math for two years, for Social Studies for two years and for Language Arts we have used the same curriculum since first grade.  As for Spanish we still have not found one that fully meets our needs.  We have used Teaching Textbooks for Math for two years, but Lightning is no longer enjoying the curriculum so it is time to find another one that will satisfy us both.  Teaching Textbooks was a great option and I hoped we would use it for several more years but if it is no longer enjoyable for Lighting and I see some gaps in the material.  There are so many options out there I rather select one she looks forward to doing.

I have checked out Life of Fred, Singapore Math and Saxon Math.  I have peeked at Horizon Math also.  Life of Fred, in my opinion, is not a curriculum you can use on it’s own, there are just not enough, frankly hardly, practice questions, supplements are absolutely necessary.   I love the story line, but for the price I can’t see investing in it.  Horizon is similar to LifePac and Lightning is not a fan of LifePac and when she looked at the Horizon Math said it was just like that and didn’t want to do it.  I have been opposed to Saxon Math because it just reminds me of my old school textbooks and I have always wanted to steer away from the typical school textbooks, but I spoke with someone at the conference for a while and feel more comfortable with using this curriculum.  Basically with Saxon a lesson is taught and then you practice what you learned and then it spirals back to old lessons to reinforce old material and then a new lesson is taught and you spiral back.   I like this concept as Lightning needs constant reinforcement with math.  She understands the material when taught but if she doesn’t keep practicing she has problems remembering the material.  I was pretty focused on Singapore Math; Lightning did not score high on their placement test which leads me to feel this may be the curriculum for her.  She has a lot to learn in their curriculum, where with Saxon she tested high.  I made the final decision made at the conference for several reasons.  Singapore Math we can possibly finish over the summer, the textbook is colorful (shallow, but will intrigue Lightning), the material looks similar to what she has learned and I really wanted to reinforce her math skills over the summer.  If at the end of the summer she hates it we will shift to Saxon.  I have done another blog on choosing Math curriculum as I just feel we all struggle with this area the most.

I am always surprised at the homeschool conference and other curriculum sales I attend that people don’t always bring their children.  I like having Lightning with me to check out the material.  If she is not connected to the material and isn’t part of the selection I may wind up with material that she isn’t interested in using.  Isn’t the point of homeschooling to engage your individual children to learning in the best way they can?  I know not all children want to be a part of the selection process but make sure you interview them and discuss with them what you are looking to cover for the year and what they would like to cover before you purchase your curriculum.  What you think will intrigue them may not be what actually does.  Expect a little trial and error and be flexible with your decisions.

Do some research before you walk into any curriculum sale or you will be overwhelmed, but also be open minded to finding something new.  Remember to focus on the way your child learns and what her interested are and you should be able to make some informed decisions.  I have found I get the best look at books on-line at Amazon as there is typically a look inside button, but if I can’t I usually can find a peek inside with a little on-line searching.

Quick tips for selecting curricula:

  • Research different curricula in each subject area.
  • Interview your children and see what they would like to cover in the school year.
  • Go online and take placement tests if they are available (this should give you a good idea of how the curriculum is set up).
  • Check out sample chapters with your kids if they are available on line to get a feel for the curriculum.
  • Borrow or check out other homeschoolers curriculum – question the other homeschool parents and get their opinions.  Your local library might even have some programs available to borrow.
  • Don’t over buy.  You can always purchase supplements during the school year.

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