This post may contain affiliate links.
How to choose a homeschool curriculum is one of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to homeschooling.
Are you going to start homeschooling soon? Do you want to choose the BEST homeschool curriculum for your family? Choosing a homeschool curriculum can be a very stressful thing for new homeschoolers (and more experienced homeschoolers, too!) So, I want to give you some tips.
Here’s the thing. There is NO perfect curriculum for every family. Each family and each child will have different needs and ideas of how they want things to go.
Everyone learns in different ways and wants to teach different types of things. So there are a lot of things to consider as you choose your homeschool curriculum.
I have written a book, The Quick Guide to Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum if you want to whole run-down. But here, today I will give you the condensed version of how to choose a homeschool curriculum.
In more than a decade of homeschooling, I have learned a few things about the types of homeschool programs out there.
Rather watch it? I explain my 10 tips in this video:
How to Choose a Homeschool Curriculum:
Tip #1 Picture what you Want Your Homeschool to Look Like
If you are just starting out, you really might have no idea. But give it some thought.
Do you want a nature-focused school setting.
Do you want to re-create public school at home for the most part?
Do you want to spend a lot of time teaching your kids, or do you need them to work mostly on their own?
There are so many different ways to homeschool, that it can feel overwhelming. But, taking a little bit of time to picture what you want or need in your home can really be the deciding factor for you.
If you think about the main reason you are homeschooling, this may also make the decision for you, too.
Take a couple of minutes to write out your main goals and main vision for homeschooling.
Tip #2 Determine What Kind of Learners You are Teaching
How do your kids learn best? Knowing their learning styles is important when teaching your children. Is your child a visual learner or more of a hands-on learner? Do they like logic and reasoning?
If you are not sure, find an online test to gauge what ways they learn best. Or, watch them when you try teaching them a few things. Do they react best to puzzles and games when teaching, or worksheets and reading.
Once you determine this, you can get a better idea of what style of curriculum you may need for your child. There are some that include a lot of hands-on activities, projects and crafts. There are others that do not include a lot of hands-on materials, but are more book centered.
Tip #3 Try to Choose a Homeschool Style
There are quite a lot of homeschooling styles out there (Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Classical Education, Unit Study, Online School, etc.) and you do NOT have to conform to one. However, learning about them may help you to steer towards a certain type of curriculum. Most homeschooling parents tend to gravitate to a certain style.
Read some of my posts on homeschooling styles to get a better idea of what fits you best. You can also listen to my podcast 100 Ways to Homeschool to get a feel for some of them.
You may already know that you want an online homeschool curriculum or maybe you want lesson plans that are open and go with very little planning (this is my preference).
Your high school student will need something completely different than your kindergartner, but still you need to decide on a style to help you in choosing your homeschool curriculum.
If you want a Christian homeschooling curriculum or a secular curriculum, this will also help narrow things down.
Tip #4 Research Homeschool Curriculum
Once you have come to a bit of a decision on the STYLE of homeschooling you want to do, research the different options available. This will likely be the biggest and longest process.
You do not have to get all of your curriculum from the same website. I like to work one subject at a time and find the best fit for each subject.
I use one website for my math curriculum and one website for my language arts curriculum. Our foreign language is on still yet another website. Math and science and social studies, pick your favorite and go on to the next step!
Just FYI, if you are not sure what level your child needs, most sites have placement tests you can do to see where your child fits.
Tip #5 Read Reviews
I like to read reviews when picking my homeschool curriculum. There are tons of blogger reviews as well as YouTube reviews. You can find entire websites dedicated to homeschool reviews.
Read some of my homeschool curriculum reviews over the years.
Sometimes the reviews make you think something is so amazing that you have to have it, ALL OF IT! Pace yourself. Remind yourself that you only have so many hours in the day and you cannot possibly do all 25 subjects you would like to cover.
How does a curriculum compare to something similar? I like to read comparison reviews between two programs that I am deciding between when making my decision.
Is it student-led or parent-led? Which do you prefer?
Tip #6 Write a Master List
Do you know what subjects you are planning to cover? Write out a list of the things you need for each child. Sometimes different kids in the same family need different types of curriculum. That’s ok! That’s one of the great parts of homeschooling.
Don’t over-plan. I tend to do this a lot. I used to do it more when I was new to homeschooling.
Tip #7 Budgeting
Budgeting is an important thing to consider when making your choices. Total up the cost for all of the things you are contemplating using. Is it beyond the budget?
Where can you cut back? What can you buy next month?
There are quite a lot of free homeschool curriculum options available that are of great quality. There are also some public funding options in some states. do a little digging to see what’s available in your area.
Buy used! There are whole facebook groups dedicated to selling homeschool curriculum. You can also shop online for used books to bring down expenses. Also, use your library as much as possible!
Tip #8 Consult Your Kids
I always like to talk to my kids when choosing their curriculum. I show them the samples and let them help me decide. It is their education. The more you let them be a part of the choosing, the more excited and eager they will be to try it out.
Let them pick the science or history you are going to study for the year! Let them help choose the books they will be reading.
Tip #9 Make Your Choice, Then STOP Looking
This is critical for me. I used to keep reading reviews after making my purchases. Then I was always wondering if I made the right choice. I wondered if there was something better out there than what we were using.
You don’t need to get sucked into the next best thing! Just stop looking and use what you have for a while.
Tip #10 Be OK with Adjusting
I know I told you to stop looking in the last step, but sometimes we learn only by experiencing that a homeschool curriculum is not a good fit for us!
If, after a time you find what you bought is not a good fit, then go back to the research stage to see what might be a better fit.
I often will modify or simplify something I purchased and make it work for as long as possible to save having to buy something new.
You can sell a used curriculum online if you need more funds to get the next thing you need. This also brings me a lot less guilt when we don’t finish something or like it.
Well, there you go! I hope this helps you make your decision when you choose a homeschool curriculum for your child!
More Homeschool Resources For You: