Monday, May 6, 2013

What curriculum should I use?

I remember back to the beginning days of homeschooling I asked this question to EVERY homeschooling mom I would see.  Now as I am a few years into this homeschooling gig, it is the question I see most often asked. If you go to vendor halls full of curriculum and various companies trying to get you to buy their product they will tell you how this particular curriculum is the way to go.  You think, yes, and then proceed to the next booth and get convinced of the same thing.  curriculum to buy

Our children are all unique, our families are all unique.  We each come to the table with specific goals and needs.  I can’t answer for your child or your families needs but I can do so for mine. 

I will venture to guess that those of us that are asking this question did not grow up in a homeschooling family.  We were in the public school system and have the public school system way of thinking when we start out.  We are also overwhelmed by the choices or do not even know where to start looking.  A all in one box way of doing school seems to be the best option because we are overwhelmed and want the best bang for our dollar. 

Sometimes those all in one box curriculums are out of our budget or for whatever reason doesn’t work for our particular child or family.

So what questions should we be asking instead of “what curriculum should I use?”

1.  What are the learning styles of your children?

  • kinesthetic or tactile learners – These are kids learn best when there are hands on projects and learning.  They need to be involved with the lesson. 
  • auditory learner – These are the kids that learn best by listening. 
  • Visual learner – These have to see it done and learn by watching.

2.  What is your learning style as the teacher of your child. 

  • This often influences what we buy because it appeals to us but it is not the right fit for our child.  An example of this is reading all those living books and stories appeals to me as my children’s mother.  But my daughter is a doer.  She needs to get physically involved in her learning.  So this is not the best curriculum for her.

3.  How much time do you want to invest in the putting together the day to day lessons.

  • There are curriculums that you open up the book and do the next lesson.  It even gives you what to say when teaching your child.  It doesn’t take much time to prepare. If you are in a season of life that you need all preparation done for you then this is the way to go.  This helped me especially when I had a new baby in the house.
  • Do you want to be preparing and finding those projects with your children?  Do you need to be hands on.  This is going to take more time commitment from you but you thrive on this and even need this in your life. 

4.  Goals

  • What are the subjects you want to cover besides the basics (reading, math)
  • Do you want to do teach each of your children their own subjects or
  • do you want to combine as many subjects as possible.
  • Do you want flexibility to choose between curriculums and build your own?
  • What do you want to have accomplished in your school life and your family life by the end of the school year?

5.  Budget

  • What is your budget.  You NEED a BUDGET.  Otherwise you will keep picking up stuff to fill your day.  And you will spend more than you need or afford to.
  • Do you have room in your budget for those bigger curriculum packages?  Or do you search out other ways to teach your child subjects that are free or just more affordable? 
  • Do you want to spend most of your dollars in one or two areas and find alternatives for other areas? 

6.  Ask your children what they would like to learn.  I think that their answers may surprise you.  I think that if we can some way to get their input they begin to feel that their opinions matter and they will be invested in their learning. 

Once you have answer to these questions start doing searches on what your needs are.  Ask about those curriculums that you have heard about and see if it matches your kid and your teaching style.  Can these things be adjusted.  There is so much out there for us to pick and choose from.   Do you research and see what other people have to say about that curriculum that you think may fit your family.  Also remember that the Lord cares about what we pick and I think that in prayer and discussing it with your spouse you will find what works for you. 

It is always scary to push the buy button but after a deep breath you will be okay. 

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