Last fall I started a series on planning. If you missed those posts you can find them here and get caught up:
Today I am going to continue talking about the homeschooling methods worksheet you completed last time and using it to choose curricula that meet your needs. Everyone has their own teaching style and our children have different learning styles, so a curriculum that works for one family or child may not work for another. It is very easy to find out what your friend or homeschool group leader is doing with their family and decide that you need to do the exact same thing or use the same curriculum. Don’t fall into that trap! There is nothing wrong with using the same curriculum if it meets your family’s needs, but don’t use it just because someone else is doing it or it is the popular curriculum to use!
If you have completed the activities earlier in the series you should have your overall homeschool vision, long-term goals, and learning styles to work from as you decide what homeschooling method/approach will work best for your family. Many families have a specific philosophy they work from and choose curricula to match this method/philosophy. In our home, I know that my teaching style is to use hands-on activities, good literature, and a unit-study type approach. My kids are very active learners and need lots of hands-on activities. They also don’t do well with a lot of writing. The approach I use I like to call “eclectic”, although it is very heavily based in Charlotte Mason. When I choose curricula for our family, I keep this in mind. If you filled out the homeschooling methods sheet from last time, you will probably have a good idea what philosophy will work best for you.
Later we will discuss choosing an individual curricula for subjects, such as a handwriting or math curriculum. First, I want to talk about choosing an overall curriculum for your family. You may choose to pick a curriculum for each subject and each child separately. There is nothing wrong with that. Many families find it easier, however, to pick an overall curriculum or complete curriculum and then tweak it as necessary to meet your goals and learning styles.
In our family, we use My Father’s World. It covers Bible, History, Geography, Science, some Language Arts, Music, and Art at a family level. It is meant for the whole family (from grades 2-8) to do together. For Math, the rest of Language Arts, Life Skills, and P.E. I choose my own curricula. I also add other things that I want to study more in depth. I use the MFW recommendations for some subjects (such as Spelling and Grammar) but have chosen, for example, to use Math-U-See for my math curriculum rather than the recommended Singapore Math. For reading I used one system with my daughter, but another with my son.
I have a friend that had three older children and then gave birth to twins. In their family they use Switched-on-Schoolhouse. I have a friend that uses Bob Jones and another that uses A Beka, both of which look more like what would traditionally be used in a public or private school setting (in fact, several parochial schools use BJU or A Beka). I also know families that use Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, and Konos. Each of these curricula work great for each of their families, but many of them would not work well for us. This site has a nice overview of homeschooling methods/philosophies and some of the curricula fall under each method. There are many, many other choices available. You can use this form to think through which curricula best meet your family’s needs for a complete curriculum.
If you decide not to choose a complete or overall curriculum, or if you need to choose a curriculum for something such as reading you can use this form.
Here are some examples of how to fill out the forms (remember that what may be a “pro” for me could very well be a “con” for someone else!):
I hope this helps you as you think about what curricula you are going to choose. Next time I am going to talk about choosing classes within subjects and creating a schedule for the year.