This post may contain affiliate links.
It can be so easy to be overwhelmed when trying to choose the right curriculum. There are so many homeschool curriculums on the market now and it seems more are being added every year.
How are you supposed to choose the right curriculum?
I think it helps to know that there is no one perfect curriculum. What might work perfectly for one child will be a nightmare for another. The right choice for each student may vary greatly, even within the same family.
How to Choose the Right Curriculum
I follow this process every time I need to choose a new curriculum. This process helps me stay focused on the true goal, identifying a curriculum that will best support my learner. Otherwise it is all too easy to get distracted by new teacher’s guides with colorful shiny covers. I am rarely happy with products chosen haphazardly.
The goal with these steps is to reduce a large number of options down to two or three. The number of options will shrink with each completed step, making it easier to choose the right curriculum.
Set a price limit
The very first step is to decide what you are willing and able to spend. Expensive does not always mean better. Curriculums come in a huge variety of prices. Eliminating the ones that are completely outside of your budget is a great way to start narrowing down the curriculum choices.
Determine the learning style
I believe that matching a student’s learning style to the instructional method can go a long way in making subjects easier and more enjoyable. In my education major days, I was taught to teach each objective in a variety of learning styles to accommodate all of the students. Luckily, in my homeschool I’m only teaching two kids, not 20, so I don’t need to touch on every learning style.
This is the point in the homeschool curriculum search where I ask my children for input. For example, I am currently considering all of our math options for next year. I asked Hannah what types of math lessons are the easiest for her to follow. She told me that she finds lots of text on a computer screen distracting. I wouldn’t have known this important bit of information if I hadn’t asked.
Identify educational goals
What do you want to accomplish while using the curriculum? Some curriculums are naturally more rigorous than others. Either option is fine, but it is important to know what you want out of a curriculum.
If you want lessons that are academically rigorous and that pushes your child to dive deep into subject matter, you won’t be happy with curriculums that just brush the surface. At the same time, if you want a curriculum that provides a wide sampling of a lot of topics, you won’t like a curriculum that focuses heavily on a narrow range of content. It is much easier to choose the right curriculum if you know what you want.
This is the point in the process where you need to consider:
- educational philosophies (Charlotte Mason vs Classical, etc.)
- spiral or mastery
- narrow or wide focus (ex. – reptiles vs zoology)
Try a sample lesson
At this final step in the homeschool curriculum selection process you should have narrowed down the possibilities to just a few final choices. Before committing time, energy, and money to a particular curriculum, spend a little time with a few sample lessons. Many companies now offer a few samples on their websites. Go through the lesson yourself and with the intended student and ask yourself a few questions:
- Are the teaching instructions clear?
- Does the lesson make sense to the student?
- What is the time commitment for each lesson?
- If the program is online, are there any connectivity issues?
- Does your student want to try more lessons?
- What is the gut feeling about sample lesson?
One final note: Don’t be afraid to change curriculums. Life can throw curve balls that require different budgets, different instructional methods, and even different technology. If what you are using is working – great. If not, consider a change. Homeschoolers have the benefit of not being tied down to any particular curriculum.
How do you choose the right homeschool curriculum for your family?