If you have ever been to a homeschool curriculum fair or browsed through a homeschool supply catalog you know how confusing it can be to make a decision on what curriculum you are going to buy. There are so many choices available. They all look so good, yet they are all so different. You may have asked homeschooling friends for their recommendations, only to discover what worked for them doesn’t appeal to you at all. You wonder how in the world you’re going to make the best choices for your family.
First you need to take a few things into consideration:
Your own personality and teaching style – Are you organized and creative? Are your children disciplined and motivated? If so, unit studies may be a perfect fit. If not, you may need the extra help of a more structured program at the beginning.
- Your home situation – Are you a single parent? Is Dad going to stay home and teach while Mom becomes the breadwinner? Are you on a tight budget? Maybe your family is sailing around the world this year and you’re homeschooling on the go. Homeschooling families are a very diverse bunch. Whatever curriculum you choose needs to fit your lifestyle. Don’t settle for the most popular or cleverly packaged materials that you see. Ask yourself, “Will this realistically work in our situation?”
- Your children’s learning styles – Hands-on, or kinesthetic learners need to experience learning by touching, feeling and doing. They need to manipulate objects with their hands. Unit studies can be ideal for these children. Auditory learners need to hear information. Reading and explaining things to them is helpful. Audio CD’s of math facts, history, states and capitals, the Bible and more can all be implemented. Visual learners need to see in order to grasp a concept. They love illustrations, charts, books, and flash cards. They can be easily distracted by the things they see around them. They love to read, write and draw pictures.
- Your goals and philosophy of education – Where is God leading you? What is your reason for homeschooling? How long do you plan to homeschool? Are you just planning to homeschool for a year or two, or is homeschooling a lifestyle and long-term commitment for your family? The answers to these questions will help you decide which resources are right for you.
I know this is not what most new homeschoolers want to hear, but no one can tell you to go out and buy XYZ curriculum and use it. Each family is different and unique in their own ways. The resources that work for one family may not work at all for another. The books you used with one child may not be what’s best for the next. What you start out using in the beginning will more than likely not be what you’re using a few years down the line. As you gain experience and confidence you will settle in with the materials that work, throw out the ones that don’t, and replace them with ones that are a good fit for your family.
Don’t worry. Your children won’t suffer because you didn’t follow the same structured curriculum program, purchased from the same publisher for their entire homeschooling experience. They will learn much more over the years if you use resources that were hand picked to meet the unique needs of you and your family.
Prov. 3:5-6 tell us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Remember, the Holy Spirit will guide you in choosing the right homeschooling resources for your family. All you need to do is ask.