Overwhelmed by all the choices, daunted by the immensity of their responsibility and worried about breaking the family bank, homeschooling parents often find choosing curriculum a fearful task. But there are some strategies that will help you sort through the choices, alleviate fears and probably save you money.
1. Do your homework before buying curriculum. Read some basic parent-help books to get answers for many of your concerns, help you develop your own philosophy of education and maybe even discover some programs that especially appeal to you.
2. Spend money slowly. It’s easy to be convinced by a knowledgeable salesperson that one particular program is absolutely the best — at least until you hear the pitch from the next salesperson. You almost always can manage with fewer resources than you think you might need.
3. Consolidate grade levels whenever possible. Teach as many of your children as you can with the same resources at the same time. Bible, history, science, art and music are the easiest subjects for this sort of “efficient” teaching. Generally, aim toward the older children when choosing books for the “group.” That way you will have plenty of information to draw upon. Think of it this way: Older children can get the “firehose” of information while the younger ones get theirs through a straw. Use the “straw” approach when you are all working together, then hook your older child up to the “firehose” with direct reading from sourcebooks, independent research or other methods that help them learn at challenging levels.
4. Control your curriculum rather than letting it control you. You will need to adapt almost any resource in one way or another to work well for your children. Use as much of a resource as is useful. You do not have to finish every book. I can’t count how many times I’ve given this advice to incredulous parents who really had not thought that it might be possible to skip a chapter or more in a book. You now have permission to do so! On the other hand, you should supplement when necessary. If there’s not enough in one resource, get another that fills the gap. The bottom line is that if what you are doing is not advancing your child’s knowledge or skills, go on to something else.
5. Remember that your children are individuals. What works for one child might not work as well with another. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each child — often referred to as learning styles — so you can choose resources that teach to their strengths and help them overcome weak areas. Making the right match between child and curriculum will likely save both parent and child much grief and frustration.
6. Try to use materials from publishers that share your spiritual worldview and educational philosophy. Christian publishers include religious events in their history books and God the Creator in their science books. Secular publishers give scant attention to the first and never to the second. While Christian publishers might share a common spiritual outlook that shows up in their curricula, they often differ from one another in how they believe children learn best (educational philosophy). Some prefer memorization and workbook activity while others recommend more hands-on learning. With a little experience, you will begin to easily spot those that best fit your own preferences in terms of educational philosophy.
7. Pray for inspiration daily. God loves our children even more than we do. We can ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration when we hit tough spots or frustrating moments. Rely on God’s help, remembering that He’s involved in the education process with us.
This article was written by Cathy Duffy