With the barrage of homeschool curriculum out there, deciding what works for you can be overwhelming. Here are a few guidelines I have used to help navigate the jungle.
Does it work for your child?
Just because it gets rave reviews does not mean it is the best for your child. If your child seems confused or uncharacteristically frustrated, the curriculum may be to blame. If everything is a battle that might have a different root cause. However, if your normally compliant child suddenly isn’t, the curriculum might need to be re-evaluated. I have seen this more in online programs than in book ones. Online programs can have a different flow or approach the topics in a way that doesn’t work for your child. I have kept different curriculums around to swap out if I feel like something isn’t working for a particular child.
Does it work for you, the parent?
Initially, I started with a curriculum that had glowing reviews. It was comprehensive and had an emphasis on our Christian faith. It was supposed to be a great fit. Except it was not for us. It required a great deal of parental research for which I did not have time. My children did not particularly enjoy it but I had invested a lot of time and money into it. I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt for six long years. But I really grew to hate it and decided that it was not a good fit for me as the instructor. We dropped it and I wish we had done that sooner. We changed to something that was more fun for me to teach and that in turn was more fun for my children.
Does it work for you as a family?
This encompasses a lot of issues relating to a curriculum. Cost is one component. If it is cost prohibitive that can be a problem if there is no way to offset it. We use Classical Conversations and I teach a class to offset our educational costs. Some publishers offer sales positions to help with costs.
Another component is the time/ energy it requires. In some stages of life, online programs are better due to the lack attention a parent-teacher has available. There have been stages when I incorporated more online classes either live or recorded because I had babies demanding my attention. There are other factors to consider when it applies to your family. Do you have enough computers or other required educational tools? Does the curriculum require a lot of parent preparation? etc.
I usually keep the curriculum around until I am sure we are not going to revisit it again later but sometimes selling the current helps provide funds for the future. I have dug out previous curriculum that did not work for one child to use with a sibling. In the end, life is too short to stay with something that is causing headaches. Often it takes a few tries to find what works best so do not be discouraged!
Kathy Davis is a mom of four who began her homeschool journey in 2006 when her oldest started pre-school. In May 2021, she graduated her oldest. She is passionate about helping moms stay the homeschooling course while not losing themselves in the process. She mentors burn-out moms and helps them not only survive but thrive! In April 2020 she launched kathyjilldavis.com and started working with Amare Global to offer practical support, solutions, and community for moms who don’t want to lose their dreams and passions during motherhood. Feel free to email her HERE.
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