Any first time homeschooler can recount the details of their first homeschool convention. Some may have wonderful experiences, but the many that I have come into contact with, come away feeling hopelessly overwhelmed and confused by the availability of choices. The families who go to homeschool conventions and come away with the right fit or mix of curriculum normally have a well thought out plan.
Perhaps you are the type of homeschooling parent who does not attend homeschool conventions. Possibly you prefer to order your homeschool curriculum from various catalogues that you request by telephone, mail or over the internet. Here you are selectively contacting those curriculum providers that you feel will best suit your needs.
You could possibly be part of a third group – the homeschooler who enjoys surfing the web and sifting through the maze of homeschool curriculum advertised on line. This was where I found myself about 10 years ago. Not being in a country where annual homeschool conventions were the norm all those years ago, I needed a strategy to survive the curriculum hunt.
Here are my top 8 tips for choosing the right curriculum for your family, whether online, via catalogue or at a homeschool convention.
Tip no 1 – Know your children well.
Here I am not talking about learning styles. This is knowing their particular bent – their interests, their heart, their hopes and dreams.
Tip no 2 – Family focus
Here you consider what you as a family are about. Are you a missionary family? Are you a family with special needs children? Perhaps you want to travel more. All these issues need to be taken into account.
Tip no 3 – Learning styles
Knowing your children’s learning styles (and your teaching styles) is an important consideration but it should not be the only thing that you consider when purchasing curriculum.
Tip no 4 – Long term goals
What are your long term goals for your family? What are your children’s goals for their own lives? The answer to this question may only become clearer as your children get older. But if you desire that your children are self employed then you would look for curriculum and resources that aid you in this goal.
Tip no 5 – Cost
This is an important factor. While there are many homeschooling families who feel alright with photocopying and borrowing material, I have never thought it fair to “rob” others of their income. This does not mean that buying a homeschool curriculum need to bankrupt you, but planning in advance can make all the difference if you know what your budget is.
Tip no 6 – Philosophy
Research what homeschool philosophy appeals to you. There are a large number of differing schools of thought. Briefly they are: Literature Based, Unit Study, Textbook, Unschooling, Accelerated, Catholic, Classical, Delight Directed and Charlotte Mason.
Tip no 7 – Time available to mom
This is an important factor to take into consideration. Do you have lots of children? Perhaps you work part time? Do your children pursue lots of activities and have other co-op classes? These need to be thought through as you prepare to purchase any curriculum.
Tip no 8 – Know your child’s preferences and weaknesses
Part of choosing curriculum is finding the right tools to build up your children in their weaknesses so that they achieve an acceptable standard. It is also good to have a general knowledge of all scholarly disciplines, but this is not necessarily the only goal. Make sure you also choose things in which your child can delight in.
Finally before starting out to the homeschool convention, surfing the net or sending out catalogue request, be sure that you have prayed about your choices, sought your husbands counsel and that you have your guidelines in place. Happy curriculum hunting.