Advice about Choosing Curriculum

Many people ask the question, “Where do I start?”. It is like going to a Super Center and finding groceries. The world of curriculum has exploded in the last decade.   Too many choices can also be overwhelming.  How do you figure it all out?   Below I’ve given some guidelines to assist you in navigating the world of curriculum.


“How do you know what to teach?”

in to home school. His main question, “how do you know what to teach.” I thought he was concerned about how to decide what was important. However, his question was, how does my wife decide what to teach on her own?” He didn’t realize that curriculum was available to use to home school.  If this is you, now would be a good time to read Cathy Duffy’s top 102 picks.

I taught in public school and private schools and I was unaware of the work that had already been done for me. In my school district, they had done away with textbooks and workbooks.  The teacher was responsible to put it all together for all levels Ug!!  The focus was passing the tests: district tests, state tests and weekly quizzes.   Let me reassure you that as you home school you can aim for becoming someone who loves to learn.  Your children can become engaged in the world around them.

What about the gaps?  No matter how you teach there will be gaps. Your child may not absorb all that you teach or you may have areas you do not cover.  How can you teach your child everything there is to know?  It is not humanly possible.  That is where the term comes in lifelong learner.  If you teach your child how to learn, your child will be able to learn whatever is needed.

But consider the picture of homeschooling – you have one teacher with your child, using material intended to go step by step is a beautiful thing.


I have had to realize my limitations

By nature, I like to be creative and fun.  Even with that in mind, set curriculum has calmed me down.  I don’t have enough hours in the day to plan for all three of my children’s subjects…activities that are creative and exciting.   I have had to realize my limitations.  It is perfectly acceptable to plan to work on a set amount of pages each day in certain subjects. Before I begin my day, I look over any challenging areas , to be proactive.  But it is nothing like creating the wheel.   I have a mixture of curriculi I have found for my children. You can click here and take a look at our curriculum choices last year!

Many of you will spend hours of research online.  You will read all the opinions of everyone.  Then you will make a choice and be disappointed because it doesn’t work.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Curriculum doesn’t take the place of real life learning. You must talk through your day with your child.  Help him/her see and understand all that is taking place around.  Don’t assume that your child grasps why things happen.  Does she really understand directions, money, time, relationships, eating healthy or a myriad of other things.  Curriculum is good and necessary, but wouldn’t it be better for your child to be with you learning about the world around them.

Beware of too much structure  In the pre-school years, do not be quick to jump into structured learning.  Be with your child. Play with them. And above all, please don’t have your goal to be impress your family and friends with your child’s abilities.  Your child needs to be ready in the older years to handle the challenges…But while they are young, enjoy the world around you.   Encourage your child and enjoy the moments you have.  These moments will quickly pass.

What works for others may not work for you.  As you begin to step out, you must know yourself and your child.  Start with you.  Will you be bored to tears with a rote system of learning or will you enjoy the predictability?  You need to start somewhere so take it easy and plan some things that you know suite you.  However, be prepared for it all to change with your child’s needs.

Great learning does not have to come with a high price tag. Many couples who homeschool only have one income.  Curriculum doesn’t have to be expensive.  Amblesidelearning online is a free curriculum. It is absolutely free.  Your children will read great literature (you can find free resources from the site.

Start slower and ease into it. Some children just do well no matter where you begin but for others they need to feel comfortable with the material and so starting a bit slower and at an easier level will make the transition smoother.

Find a mentor or a person who will give you their input! Someone who has tried and tested out curriculum may be able to help you navigate through curriculum.   Don’t choose someone who is set on a particular curriculum, but rather someone who has a good perspective on different needs for students and teachers.

The bottom line is you will find your way. Ask for other input, go with your instincts and stick with what works.  


Don’t be enslaved to the curriculum…doing every page just to check it off your list, but do what is meaningful and helpful for you and your children’s learning.


Most of all, enjoy the this journey. What a privilege to walk alongside your child. 

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