Things to Consider When Choosing a Curriculum
With a million different opinions on the “best” homeschool curriculum, it can be hard to know which curriculum to pick. Here’s a guide to choosing the best homeschool curriculums for you and your family.
Note: I include a * for Christian-based curriculums.
1. Types of Homeschool Styles Explained
Some students learn best with videos and a checklist of things they need to get done. Others prefer a more self-paced style. Still others are eclectic and do a mix of everything! There are several different options when it comes to homeschooling.
Charlotte Mason inspired
Charlotte Mason believed that a person should be educated fully, not just their mind. The Charlotte Mason curriculum includes living books instead of textbooks and uses narration (repeating back what they learned) instead of tests to show comprehension. Because of its literature-driven approach, this can be a great option that doesn’t break the bank.
Examples of Charlotte Mason based curriculums:
- Blossom and Root
- Five in a Row*
- My Father’s World*
Classical education involves a three-part process of training the mind. It includes the Grammar Stage for young learners, the Logic Stage for middle schoolers, and the Rhetoric Stage for high school. It’s language-focused and most subjects are interrelated. (Here’s a more in-depth summary of classical education.) It’s called “classical” for a reason and has been around for centuries, but might not be a good option for students who really don’t like reading.
- Memoria Press*
- My Father’s World*
- The Well-Trained Mind
Traditional curriculums closely mirror public schools. Each day includes a formal lesson plan and is structured. For those who like structure or who want no questions about what needs to be done for the day, traditional might be right for you.
- A Beka* (strongly Christian and strongly advanced)
- Bob Jones Homeschool*
If you’re a DIY type person, unit studies might be the best option for you! Unit studies are flexible and are often student-led. They can be used to supplement a curriculum or to create your own curriculum.
Where to find unit studies:
- Learn in Color
- My Father’s World*
- Teachers Pay Teachers
Online learning is just that – courses fully online. These may mimic public school in some ways. Most of the major online learning options have all subjects for all grade levels, making it an easy option.
Examples of online learning curriculums:
Unschooling or Deschooling
Unschooling is a nontraditional, student-led type of education. It is highly adaptable to a student’s interests and passions. Unschooling can be used for all grade levels but I think it works best for grades K-6. At this stage, actually learning and continuing to spark curiosity, instead of testing to death, should be the main goal.
Unschooling is multi-dimensional and includes a mix of activities, experiments, books, videos, museums, etc. However, it does require a fair bit of organization and dedication to actually learning. For college-bound students, in the secondary years, I think a mix of traditional curriculums combined with student-led interests can be a happy medium and can prevent knowledge gaps.
Where to find resources for student-led learning:
Check out this list of homeschool curriculums, with notes about the style/worldview of each.
2. What’s the worldview?
Many traditional homeschool curriculums are Christian based, but there’s a lot of secular options out there. Some curriculums may lean more secular (ie omit all religion or loosely mention evolution) or more religious (ie mention God or going to church). Others may sway more heavily both ways. You can look up most curriculums on Cathy Duffy Reviews and quickly find out the worldview of the curriculum.
One of my favorite curriculums out there is Sonlight. It’s comprehensive, Christian based and the book lists are top-notch. Sonlight developed a religious-free alternative called Book Shark, which is a great option if you want the book lists and literature-based nature of Sonlight without Christian themes.
3. How many kids am I homeschooling?
By high school, students should be mostly working independently, especially if they’re college-bound. In the meantime, if you have kids that are close in age, you more than likely can homeschool several subjects them together!
For language, history, Bible, and fine arts, it’s often easier to teach the subjects together!
1. If something doesn’t work, that’s okay! There’s always next year, or if something really isn’t working, you can switch up curriculums for another kid. Homeschooling is a journey, and that sometimes comes with trying to figure out which curriculums or learning styles work best!
2. You’re not limited to one option!
3. Never underestimate the power of free books and movies from the library.