Exactly how do you go about choosing the best curriculum? There are several things you need to take into consideration while choosing the best books to teach your children at home. Let’s look at these one at a time.
Is it easy for you to teach?
This question isn’t meant to insult your intelligence – really – it isn’t!
What I mean by “is it easy to teach” is are the instructions clear? Do they make the teacher help section easy to understand. Is it clear how to teach using their curriculum?
If you have the time and access to the curriculum, sit down and go through one lesson just like you’re going to teach it. This will give you an idea about how it “flows” and if it is going to be easy to use or make you want to pull your hair out!
Does it look fun for your children?
You are homeschooling your children to give them a good education.
BUT…let’s have a little fun while we’re at it! When you see a curriculum that is boring…the lessons are excessively long…they contain worksheet after worksheet…this probably means that your children aren’t going to like it.
While school doesn’t have to be all fun – and it won’t be – there’s no reason to make it pure drudgery either. There are going to be many times when your children won’t want to do school no matter how fun you make it and they don’t always have to like it, but I highly recommend always trying to keep learning as fun and interesting as possible.
Look for curriculum that is bright – has great pictures or photography – and looks interesting while still being educational. It’s out there…you’ll find it!
Does it fit the “learning style” of your child?
This is very important. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that you can tailor your teaching to how your children learn.
You want to make learning as easy and as enjoyable as possible. To do this, you need to discover your child’s learning style.
Does your child learn better by listening? He’s probably an auditory learner.
Does your child learn better by watching? She’s probably a visual learner.
Does your child learn better by doing? He’s probably a kinesthetic learner.
Choose a curriculum that fits this learning style.
Do you need to teach several age groups at the same time?
If your family is like most homeschool families, you have several children. This is great and it is very possible to teach several children at one time – it just depends on the subject.
Some subjects are easier to teach to different age groups – like history or science.
Some subjects are impossible to teach to different age groups at the same time – like math or spelling.
Is it too time consuming?
A curriculum is too time consuming if you are going to have to spend an hour every night before you go to bed trying to figure out what you are supposed to teach your kids the next day.
Some homeschool programs get so complicated with their schedule and will include multiple books – teacher’s book, teacher’s answer book, teacher’s quiz book, teacher’s quiz book answers, teacher’s test book, teacher’s test book answers…all for one subject!
You get the picture.
I’ve seen this many times. For one subject, the teacher has six books – the child has one. When you are shopping for curriculum, this should send up a red flag. Teaching your children isn’t that complicated. When you see homeschool curriculum that is this overloaded with books, it means they are trying to sell you as many books as possible.
How much teacher preparation is involved?
This goes hand-in-hand with “Is it too time consuming?”. Choose curriculum that takes minimal preparation time. Look for clear and easy teacher instructions.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, if you want to spend time putting together projects for your children – like lapbooking. These can be great learning opportunities. Just make it an exception rather than the rule. In other words, it should be something you do that is “extra” – having school shouldn’t depend on whether or not you spent hours putting together a lesson.
Does it fit your budget?
Because homeschool families are often one-income families, you need to decide on a budget for your homeschool – and stick to it. Buying curriculum is FUN!!!! Homeschool moms tend to love books.
Don’t let this get out of hand. Remind yourself when you are tempted to overspend on “just a few more books” that you could be using that money to help with the bills, or to use in other homeschool materials, or how about a fun field trip?
Does Anyone You Know Recommend It?
One of the best ways to find good curriculum is to ask homeschool moms for help and recommendations. Ask around. See if anyone you know has used the curriculum you are considering and see what their opinion is about it.
Just remember that their teaching style is going to be