Monday, January 26, 2015

Choosing The Right Homeschool Curricula

These last few weeks I have been doing some major research into curriculum for our upcoming year, I have looked at hundreds of materials, books, dvd's, etc and finally narrowed it down to what I think will work for us. While I am not going to share what we have chosen just yet, I do want to however share with you how I narrowed down my results. 

Know Your Kids Learning Abilities: this is no surprise to most parents, but no two children are the same, in fact they don't generally learn the same either. What comes easy for one may be hard for another. Knowing your kids learning abilities will help you big time when choosing curriculum. 

Make Sure You Look at Publishers: Whether you are a Christian Homeschooler or a Secular Homeschooler makes a big difference when choosing homeschool materials. If your Christian you may want all or a little with Christian teaching brought into the subjects you choose, but if your a secular homeschooler you will not want any Christian teaching brought into what you choose. 

Figure out your Homeschool Style: There are tons of different types of Homeschoolers, You have Unschooling to Waldorf and all the names in-between. Once you figure out your style weeding out publishers will be a little easier. Here is a link to the explanation of the homeschool methods ; another, and another. Of course if you also search out "homeschooling methods" you will find tons more.

Read Reviews from Various Sources: Don't go with reading one review on the material your looking at, be sure to check other sources and get the full scoop on what people loved or disliked about the material. HOWEVER, remember that just because the material didn't work for little Johnny doesn't mean it won't work for your little Suzy, which is why #1 is something you need to figure out!

Figure Out Your Teaching Style: This one I cannot stress enough, some curriculum comes in a ready to go box set for whatever grade your looking for, while others do not. If your a open and go kind of person then you need to make sure you get the teachers guides and know exactly whats coming, if you up to a bit of challenge and like making your own lesson plans then you may not want the teachers guide. I personally am in the middle so I buy some subjects with the teachers guide and others I can figure it out on my own. 

Read Your States Laws on Homeschooling: Most states say what you must teach your children if you homeschool; make sure you know this that way you get the must haves and then can tweak the other things in as you and your child want them. Here is a great link to the homeschool laws by state.

Figure Out What Kind of "School" Setting You Want: some homeschoolers choose to do school all over the house, while others choose to have a school room. Figuring this out helps when choosing materials because you know the space your limited to using. Personally we have a huge basement area and that is where we will be doing school next year...

Multi-Age Subjects: There are certain subjects you can merge together if you have multiple children around the same age. For me, my kids are about 2-3 years apart, so I tend to loop together everything I can besides handwriting, math, and reading; so for example we would do art, history, science, geography, foreign language, and phys ed all together as group. Keep in mind merging together the kids for a subject makes life a bit easier on mom! 

Ask Questions, Really, Please Do: Ask questions when you are torn between options, or get stuck halfway through the year...publishers are happy to help with whatever they can, and if you want some real quick answers you can check out the Homeschool Forum on Homeschool Reviews and the ladies there will be so happy to help you the best they can; you'll get tons of answers and encouraging words from all levels of homeschooling moms.

Don't Get Sucked into Blogs: this is a big one for new homeschoolers; you start doing research and you see all the pretty homeschool blogs full of pretty school rooms and smiling sucked into the trap of "I Need All The Things" really quick...slow down and re-coop. You don't need all the things, you need to stick to your own budget, and just because everyone looks happy in the photo does not mean that is how the whole day went...Most of the time there are manipulatives threw all over the table, a kid crying, another complaining about something, and the dog has got loose from the backyard...and mom is a bit frazzled too so don't even ask about dinner! But see, that is just some days and they are few and far between. The joy with homeschooling is that its only as complicated as Mom makes it...

If You Have a Preschooler: search the web for all the FREE things you can print to make your own curriculum. There are tons of sites that offer preschool packs and letter of the week activities...If you want to purchase a box set well, there's that too!

Hopefully these tips will help you while choosing the curriculum you want for the upcoming school year, and yes it is only January, but its never to early to start looking and weeding out things.

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