Curriculum Part 1: The Basics and Researching
Curriculum is a word that refers to the materials that you will be using to teach your children from. This can be books, videos, audio recordings, computer software, a combination, and more. The curriculum you choose for your homeschool will be based on your education philosophy. Your children’s learning styles and your teaching style can factor into this selection as well. We will begin a look at five different approaches to education in upcoming articles.
To begin with, you might want to research by talking to a few parents who you know that are already homeschooling. You will want to ask them to share the pros and cons of their particular homeschool lifestyle. Ask them to show you and explain how their curriculum works. And now is a great time to ask for advice on what they would do differently – and the same – if they were just starting out.
Try to pick families that are not all using the same type of curriculum and who have a few years under their belt. This will give you several options to consider from their first-hand experience, but not so many as to be overwhelming. And remember – no homeschool family or curriculum is perfect, but why not learn from others’ experiences and not try to reinvent the wheel?
While your homeschool will be just as unique as your family is, you will find similarities with other homeschool families. Some of you may already have one or more homeschool families that you would like to pattern yours after. Others of you want to do something totally different because of the families you are familiar with.
Another option is to research the different education approaches online. A great online resource that reviews hundreds of homeschool curriculum is Cathy Duffy Homeschool Curriculum Review. I have used this site often throughout my years of curriculum research.
An additional great resource is to attend your local or national homeschool convention where there will be hundreds of homeschool companies – called vendors – there to sell curriculum and answer any questions you may have. Conventions also have many workshops available to attend or buy the recordings of where you can learn about a wide variety of aspects of homeschooling from curriculum to how-to’s to straight up encouragement and support!
I attended a homeschool convention every year so I could glean wisdom from the many speakers and vendors there. I will share tips for attending your first homeschool convention in an upcoming article. It helps to be prepared. Otherwise it can be overwhelming instead of amazing.
I chose my first curriculum and teaching style based on the fact that over half of the families in our small church were successfully homeschooling this way. I didn’t do any research. I didn’t even ask for any details from any of them. I just assumed if it worked for them, it would work for us. It turned out not to fit our family lifestyle at that time at all!
After struggling to make it work for the first half of the school year with my preschooler, I attended my local homeschool convention and through research there I learned what would work best for my family. We sold that original curriculum, bought a different one, and started over successfully the next year.
We had no plans to homeschool our children when my husband and I were first married. We didn’t even know homeschooling existed! One day a friend pointed out to me that I was already teaching my toddler things like her ABC’s, colors, shapes, and counting, thus I was home educating – just without a curriculum. That opened my eyes and heart to the wonderful experience of homeschooling my kids, with all of its ups and downs, trials and triumphs, hard work and fun!
A few good books to read about the basics of homeschool are: The Everything Guide to Homeschooling and The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.
Next time we will discuss some details of the following main types of curricula: Traditional, Classical/The Principle Approach, Charlotte Mason/Ruth Beechick, Unit Studies, and Unschooling/Relaxed Homeschooling!
I love God, family, friends, and encouraging people. I enjoy helping others in the education world from my experience in my job and from when I homeschooled my kids. As a wife, Mom, soon to be Grandma, and the Education and Homeschool Web Merchandiser, I hope my blog articles are helpful to you as we live life together.