Friday, October 5, 2012

Research Curriculum Options

Photo credit: mazwebs

This is one of those homeschooling issues that can drive you crazy, if you let it.

There are SO MANY options out there for homeschool curricula. You can choose an all-in-one, complete curriculum, packaged up and shipped right to your door. You can pick different curricula by subject matter, using one company's offerings for one subject, and another company's for something else. Or maybe you'll custom design your curriculum every year.

The awesome thing about this, is that you get to choose exactly how your children are educated.

The bad thing --- it can make you crazy (as noted above) and it can hit you hard in the wallet, especially if you buy something only to find out that it's not working out for you and your kids.

With that in mind, here are my tips for researching curriculum options for your homeschool:

  • If you read homeschooling blogs, pay attention to bloggers who have similar philosophies to yours. Which curriculum do they use? What books do they rave about? 
  • If you can attend a homeschooling conference, that's a great way to hear from different companies about their offerings.
  • Take your preferences into account. Are you more comfortable with a full, packaged, pre-planned curriculum? Or are you more of a "let's just try it and see how it goes?" type? If you are leaning toward packaged curricula, check out the following companies:

A few considerations about packaged curricula:
  1. Many of them are Christian-based. If you are a Christian homeschooler, then, likely that is fine with you! But if you are a secular or non-Christian homeschooler, you'll have to judge whether you'll be turned off by the Christian leanings of these curricula or not. 
  2. Packaged curricula are expensive -- the above packaged deals range from $500 to $2,000 per year, depending on company and grade level!
  3. Packaged curricula are fairly regimented. If this appeals to you, then that's great! If not, you may find yourself working against the very curriculum you spent all of that money on...

A couple of my favorite resources:

The Well-Trained Mind (this is the curriculum we follow. You are responsible for pulling all of the materials together for your kids, but if you like a hands-on, challenging curriculum, this is the one.

Curriculum Choice -- this blog has detailed posts about how to choose the right curriculum for your kids

A final note: a lot of this process trial and error. Some things just won't work for your kids. It's frustrating, but the great thing about homeschooling is that we can be flexible and ensure that our curriculum really works for our kids. Don't get discouraged -- just try, try again!

This post is part of my 31 Days of Tips for New Homeschoolers series!

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