3 guidelines to choosing homeschool curriculum

I went to a homeschool conference last spring, and I didn’t buy a thing.

I must be…

a. No longer homeschooling.

b. Already in possession of enough books to occupy a public school library.

c. Homeschooling a very long time and have learned that I just don’t need it all.

C it is! (Oh, and obviously also B, cause I’ve been homeschooling ten years).

One of the most common questions I’m asked about homeschooling: “Where do you get the curriculum?” The answer: the same place everyone gets stuff, book stores, online, the library, or friends.

Teresa Wiedrick

Asking about favourite homeschool curriculum on a homeschool Facebook page will garner oodles of opinions. Word of mouth is a powerful sales agent.

Homeschool curriculum is as individualized as the families they educate.

What you like might not be what your friends like or what your kids like, or even what just one of your kids like. Lots of experimenting is involved. If you’re not eager to spend money, then borrow, lend, go to the library, a used book store, or trade resources.

All curriculum gets boring eventually.

Even the most exciting curriculum gets boring by the middle of November, when you realize you don’t like it as much as you first thought, or by the beginning of February, when everything gets boring.

Be thee encouraged: the perfect curriculum will not be found. It is not a treasure to be discovered, because it doesn’t exist.

If there is no magical curriculum, how do you choose curriculum? If you’re not locked into a prescribed program of learning by your state or provincial government, I suggest three principles for choosing curriculum.

Follow your kids’ interests.

Easiest way to get someone engaged in writing or math or any subject whatsoever is to pursue their interests.

You have a kiddo Minecrafting? There are writing prompts for that. There are math games for that. There are history books used in conjunction as building prompts. There’s even an online school for that!

Your kiddo likes mixing stuff together? (Watch out kitchen!) Chemistry experiment books and experiment sets and slime sets abound for such a purpose. We have purchased this one twice and used it three times.

Find an Usborne book for that.

If I had to sell anything, it would be Usborne products, because they would sell themselves. Their format, vocabulary, and illustrations are excellent entry resources for any subject area from chemistry to Shakespeare, Roman history to US presidents.

Does your child have an interest in history?

Have you seen the Kingfisher Encyclopedias? The Usborne On-Line Encyclopedias? Have you tried the Horrible History DVD series? What child can resist those historical absurdities.

Follow your interests.

Who says homeschool needs to focus only on the interests of the child? Homeschool can be a family affair. When a parent shares a love of a topic, that child will remember and learn.

If you’re passionate about an activity, share it with your kids.

For years, I included my kids in spring planting. They planted and harvested oodles of carrots in their very own garden patch by September. Digging in the dirt and finding earthworms and pill beetles was a delight. Understanding soil quality and growth habits, compost development, companion planting and squash flower fertilization: no one would have taught them these skills if they hadn’t joined in on my interests.

My husband’s interests in NFL and MLB, Canadian and American politics, Broadway theatre and presidential history have been infused in my children. At bedtime and breakfast, in transit or at campfire, our kids have had all manners of discussions with their dad.

He says, “You need your own savvy, and then share your savvy with your kids, and let your kids really do things with you.”

No matter the interest, you can spend a few minutes a day engaging your topics of interest. When they watch you passionately engaging in your interests, they will see that learning continues throughout a lifetime.

Trust that the way your kids like to learn is the right way to learn.

This will greatly influence your choice of curriculum. And frankly, make your life easier. Why? Because it isn’t a forced approach to learning.

I was primarily taught in the lecture, study, test, and regurgitate approach. (Most of us were.) These modes have their place, but they’re not the only place. Being told something, recording notes on paper, reviewing the notes, and being quizzed on it have their place but so do discussions, reading, learning practical skills, and many other approaches.

There a thousand ways to educate (or maybe 7 billion)?

We have all been taught we have preferences in learning styles, but Tesia Marshik believes the notion of learning styles is a myth. That maybe we learn in many modes.

So much to learn about learning.

Tesia Marshik makes me think: How do we learn then?

Barbara Oakley wrote a fantastic book on learning: Learning How to Learn. (A book I read with my kids during readaloud time.) She gives insight in how we learn to learn.

Learning about learning helps me learn how my kids might be learning. (Um…but it’s true.)

Learning about learning might be more important than time spent perusing curriculum choices.

How does all this influence our curriculum choices? You will know by watching your kids, asking your kids, and trusting your instincts.

Continue to learn about their learning: follow your children’s interests, follow your interests, and learn how they learn.

Are you a new home learning family and don’t know where to start? Are you looking for encouragement and guidance?

I’m available for personalized online coaching. Let me know if you’re interested in the comment section.

To get you started, here are 19 Tips for new home learning families.

Teresa Wiedrick
Teresa Wiedrick

Am I the right fit to coach you in your new home learning journey?