Whether you’ve been homeschooling for many years or are just now thinking about it, choosing a curriculum is something that seems to be a shifting target.
When we first started homeschooling in 2019, we searched Amazon and found a core curriculum that really suited our family. It allowed us to focus on the main subjects of Math, English and Science and not have to put too much effort into any sort of planning. Other than ensuring we finished the books within the school year.
Now, a few years down the road, we’ve refined our process. Don’t get me wrong, we still use that same core curriculum, but I’ve also had a few years of doing research and refining things that didn’t work for us. Being honest with myself, there are plenty of things that end up not working. That’s OK! We’ve also incorporated in methods from various different forms of homeschool curriculums and removed things that just weren’t a good fit for our family.
One of the biggest changes I am making for this school year is detailed lesson planning and using a formal planner to track attendance, goal planning and benchmarking their performance throughout the year.
I’ve had parents over the years that have started thinking about doing homeschool too and they always ask me “what curriculum do you use?” I never give a direct answer on the specific one we use, but instead challenge people to think about the things that are important to their family.
Assess Your Families’ Values
The very first step in choosing any kind of curriculum to use in your homeschool, is first to sit down and write out the values that are most important to you and your family. This can be anything at all!
For example. If religion is a big part of your life then be sure to have daily time for reading your bible as a family, or whatever activity related to this you want to incorporate. There are SO many things to take into consideration and I will list below a few examples that are important to us that we are sure to include in our yearly curriculum.
- Core Subjects (Math, English, Science)
- Bible Study
- Art Time
- Family Reading
- Independent Time
These are just a few examples of the things we incorporate into our routines because it is important to us. A homeschool curriculum is so much more than just what books you want to use to teach your children, but also thinking about the values of time spent together, independently and otherwise, that you want to have in your schedule.
My children’s curriculum is enriched from the core subjects to include family reading and art time, because spending time together as a group for us is essential to our happy home.
Find Resources For All Values
No matter what ends up on your list of values, if you search for those things you will be able to find LOTS of resources that can support inclusion of those things into your homeschool. I have saved a lot of websites over the years that include DIY projects where you can purchase a digital unit study to websites that are self-driven online school classes like Khan Academy for my oldest student.
It doesn’t matter what values you want to incorporate, there are resources out there to help you!
Build A Plan
Then comes the fun part of building out the plan. Some parents teach using Unit Studies that are small 1-week to 2-week lessons where they earn about just one thing and other parents use a full daily lesson plan from online sources like The Good and the Beautiful, Wildwood Curriculum and Ambleside Online. No matter what you end up with on your list of items to study, plan on setting aside some time to really go through everything. Make sure you understand exactly what you’ll be incorporating and teaching throughout the year and start breaking it down into how many lessons you need to include each week to be completed by the time you want to be.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, but you do need to make some decisions on how you want to structure your year.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Will it be year-round teaching or a standard 32-36 week school year?
- What breaks will we be taking throughout the year?
- How many lessons are there for each subject to cover?
Once you start listing these things out, you can really start to dig into the detail of building out what subjects and lessons each student will work on each week.
I will admit, I spent about two months of my summer this year doing just this. Researching all the different methods available out there and creating a combination of them that incorporates all the things that meet our values list. Which also means that this year will be very different for us than in previous years, but after reviewing it as a family, everyone is very excited for this new direction!
I hope this has helped you to think a little more broadly about your curriculum choices. If you ever need more specific recommendations or just want to bounce some ideas around, reach out and let me know!
What are some things you know you want to have as part of your homeschool experience?