With the myriad of options available nowadays, choosing the best homeschool curriculum for your child can seem like a daunting task. And while it is a very important decision to make, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful.
We’re here to tell you that there is no perfect curriculum out there—but there are curriculums that are more perfect for your situation than others. In this blog, we’re sharing seven straightforward tips to help you sift through all of the options and select the right curriculum for your family.
How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family
There are several things that you should consider when deciding what the best homeschool curriculum is for you and your child. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to start, here are seven simple steps that we suggest.
1. Check Your State Requirements
Before getting started, let your state’s requirements be your first source of information. Every state has different requirements when it comes to homeschooling. So, if you’re new to homeschooling, you should definitely research your state homeschool laws and regulations prior to making any decisions regarding curriculum. Most of this information can be found online through a simple search or the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website.
Some states require homeschool students to take standardized tests and/or show documentation of meeting certain standards. Knowing where your state stands when it comes to homeschooling will help inform your decision making for curriculum. You’ll want to find a good balance between the state’s requirements and your personal needs and preferences.
2. Set a Budget
Before you decide on a curriculum and realize that its cost is well outside what you’re willing to spend, take the time to set a maximum budget for your homeschooling materials. Curriculum prices vary greatly depending on the company, so it’s important to look at costs before you deep dive researching an option that’s too costly. Be sure to also factor in any additional materials that the curriculum requires, such as any extra books, software, and supplies.
3. Identify Your Homeschooling Style and Philosophy
When starting to look into homeschool curriculum options, you should know what your core beliefs are when it comes to homeschooling. Identifying your core beliefs will help you home in on your homeschooling philosophy, which is likely tied to your reasons for choosing this educational journey for your family.
The curriculum that you choose should be aligned with your philosophy and values. For example, maybe using a faith-based curriculum is important to you, or perhaps you’d prefer a secular program.
Additionally, you’ll also want to identify which homeschool styles you align with most, whether it’s Charlotte Mason, traditional, relaxed homeschooling, a mix, or something else entirely. That way you can select programs that are created with your style in mind.
4. Consider Your Student’s Learning Preferences and Needs
A curriculum may fit your budget and homeschool values well, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your student. Before you choose a program, it’s imperative that you keep in mind what your student’s specific learning needs and preferences are.
Make sure you keep in mind that all students are different. The curriculum that works wonders for that friend’s child in your homeschool support group might not be well suited for your child. And if you’re a veteran homeschooler, what worked well for your older child may not for your younger one. Maybe your oldest preferred worksheets and practice problems when learning fractions while your youngest learns better through hands-on, interactive experiences. So, consider each child’s unique struggles and needs before you select a curriculum.
5. Determine Your Ideal Level of Involvement
How involved do you want to be in your student’s education? Some curriculum options will basically do all of the teaching for you while you supervise and offer support as needed. Other curriculum options will provide a basic overview of concepts, but give you the freedom to teach as you see fit. Of course, there are many options that fall somewhere in between.
Additionally, consider how much time you want to dedicate to homeschooling. For example, if you plan on working full-time from home while also homeschooling multiple children, you may not want to choose a curriculum that requires a great deal of instructor involvement. On the other hand, if you have more time to work one-on-one with your child each day, you may prefer a program that’s more involved.
6. Evaluate How Much Instructor Support You Need
Most homeschool instructors have certain subjects that they enjoy teaching and others that they’re not as comfortable with. So, when narrowing down the best homeschool curriculum options for your family, consider your level of confidence in teaching certain subjects. If you aren’t confident in your ability to teach a subject, then you’ll want to choose a program that provides adequate instructor support.
7. Try Before You Buy
So, you think you’ve found the best homeschool curriculum for you and your student? Before you commit, we strongly encourage you to view sample lessons and try them out with your child. If the company doesn’t offer samples online, don’t hesitate to reach out to their customer service team and ask if they could send you sample lesson pages either digitally or via mail.
You could also reach out to members of your local homeschool community and see if anyone would be willing to let you sample their copy of a specific curriculum you’re interested in. By test-driving the curriculum before purchasing, you’ll be more confident that it’s a good fit.
Finding the best homeschool curriculum for your family can be a challenge, but remember, you aren’t tethered to the choice that you make. In the future, if you determine that the curriculum that seemed like a great fit actually isn’t, you can always make a switch to something else.