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Yesterday I shared my top 5 homeschooling essentials, today I’m talking about picking curriculum. I’ve always said one of the hardest parts of homeschooling is choosing what curriculum to use! There is just so many great choices out there.
When I first started homeschooling I only had my oldest daughter age 5 at that time to think about. Now we have 6 little ones 5 are of school age and the curriculum available now is much more than it was back then!
Tips For Choosing Curriculum
Tip 1. Pray
My first step when planning curriculum purchases is to pray. The Lord will help to open my eye’s to the best choices for our family and often times show me a way to use material we already own in a new way.
Tip 2. Make Lists!
My second step is to make a list of all the subjects I need to cover with each child. I keep my lists in Evernote because it’s always available to me.
I love that away from home I can pull it up easily to check my ideas. This is great when you’re at book sales or even a yard sale where you might find some book or resource that’s on your list.
What do I keep for lists?
I make lists of all the curriculum I own. This helps to keep me from double buying. Have you ever bought a curriculum book only to later find the same book on your shelf. Oops!
Yes I’ve done this before to. Luckily it was a book were a second copy was helpful but still I’d rather not waste money by forgetfully ordering books.
I also make lists of all the subjects I need to teach per child. Not all of my children will cover the same subjects in the same year so this really helps with my planning.
I also note what subject areas we will cover as a family group. Things like nature study and composer study, I look for products that suit a range of ages.
Tip 3. Request Homeschool Catalogues
My 3rd step is to request catalogues from the homeschool companies and stores. Oh I could read these forever, it’s almost as bad as the seed catalogues that I curl up with all winter. Some catalogues I can only get in PDF form but if possible I get printed ones. Why?
Because I like to have my children look through them to. They will often find a history, science or art resource that catches their interests and it might not be one I would have picked.
Tip 4. Make a Homeschool Budget
This is a really, really important step. Perhaps I should have listed it first. Looking over the curriculum catalogues and websites can really tempt you to spend more money that what is best for your family.
Many homeschooling families are one income and curriculum can be expensive. That doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank to give your children a great education at home.
It’s important to sit down with your spouse and figure out what homeschooling budget best suits your family. Do you budget as a family group or per child? Do you set a monthly budget and order a little at a time or perhaps order everything all at once.
We do a mixture of both, I use our tax returns to order larger purchases for the year and also have a monthly budget. It’s really important not to forget things like normal supplies to, pens, pencils, crayons, paper and online subscriptions.
Tip 5. Learning Styles
A very important step is to assess what learning styles each of your children suit best. Don’t forget to also figure out how YOU learn and teach as well. If your children are hands on learners or audio learners it will make a difference in what curriculum you pick.
Tip 6. Read Reviews
After you’ve made your budget and narrowed down your list of curriculum that you’re interested in, read reviews for what is left on your list. I have shared many reviews of great curriculum!
Where else can you read reviews? A great place to start is Cathy Duffy’s Reviews for a good overview of popular curriculum.
I also like to ask on homeschool forums, there are many great ones on Facebook. One of my favourite forums is The Well Trained Mind, don’t be put off even if you’re not a classical educator. This is a popular forum for homeschoolers of all methods. Try posting a question or searching the archives for your product names.