Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum For Your Family

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.

The Peanut Butter Family Home School

Have you ever heard of home schooling being associated with peanut butter? If you’re like me, I hadn’t either until I read this book years ago. In fact, I’ve read it several times now, over the years, because of the author’s sense of humor and witty reflection, of what life is sometimes like for a home school family. He reveals that home schooling “is full of surprises, challenges, and blessings.”

Okay, but what is the connection with peanut butter you ask? Bill Butterworth associates home schooling and peanut butter with life. He feels life is very much like peanut butter. At different times it can be smooth or crunchy. But most importantly, like peanut butter on two slices or bread (or anything else it touches), home school families stick together.

Now, what would you call the house of a home school family that buzzes with constant activity, houses 4 young children, 2 adults, and a new baby on the way? Why Union Station, of course! As Bill says, “What else could you possibly call a home that’s like a train depot? It fits so well. Our home has all the craziness of a terminal, yet it also provides the place to rest between trips. So it was settled: Union Station.”

The chapter titles of this book are rather intriguing as well. Try to picture in your mind, Heppie Bread, Home-School Trivial Pursuit, Return to Walton’s Mountain, The Tale of a Whale, The Union Spy Station, and the list goes on.

As Pastor, radio Bible teacher, and author Chuck Swindoll states, “I happily cast my vote for the real-life Peanut Butter Family. It is warm-hearted, fun-loving, always- encouraging statement of affirmation on the value of being in touch with your kids. What I appreciate most is that it comes from a home where the parents practice a lot more than they preach. You’ll love it.”

Do you want a book that makes you smile? Read this one! I’m glad I did!!