Monday, August 8, 2016

Homeschool 101 - Curriculum

This week I am very excited to be participating in a Blog Hop with my friends at the Schoolhouse Review Crew and we are super excited about our subject - Homeschool 101.  We are going to chat about some of the things that are most important in homeschooling and hopefully give you a lot of encouragement wherever you are at in your homeschool journey.  Today we are discussing CURRICULUM.  Just that word can evoke anxiety, stress, and fear, but it doesn't have to.  Read on...
Homeschool 101, Curriculum, Glimpse of Normal
I will be the first to tell you that picking a curriculum can be a daunting task.  It is probably one of the biggest things that homeschool parents struggle with because it is such a big task.  It is a great thing that there are so many options out there for homeschooling, but I will tell you that this can also be one of the hardest parts that there are so many options out there.  So how do you pick a curriculum when there are so many products to consider?  I wish there was an easy formula or answer I could give you that pointed you in a specific direction, but really the truth is that you have to figure out what works best for your family.  I will share with you how we decided which curriculum to use this year.
  1. What Is Working?   This is the first question we ask every year when we start thinking about curriculum and if we need to make any changes.  If a product is working for us and my kids are learning from it without a lot of frustration, we see growth/progress, and it fits our learning needs, that is a product we continue using.  We have been majorly blessed this year to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew and through the Crew, the door has been opened to some really great products that work better for us than what we were previously using.
  2. What Isn't Working?   After many years of homeschooling, I know when something is working for my kids and when something just isn't working any more.  Earlier this year I wrote a whole post on what I needed to change for my son's school this year because the curriculum we had been using just wasn't the right fit for him anymore.  It is still a great curriculum, but we definitely needed to make some changes for him so that school was not a punishment to him, but he could learn about things that really interested him.  I had to switch from what was working for me to what would work better for him.  We do this with both of our kids.  We are constantly evaluating what is working and what isn't working for us.
  3. Does a Boxed Curriculum Fit?   A boxed curriculum is one that you order from just one company and everything comes ready for you to use.  Many of these come with lesson plans ready so you just have to open the lesson plan book and start your day.  For many years now, a boxed curriculum has fit for our kids.  It was easy to use, saved me from lesson planning, and we knew exactly what we would work on each day.  These kinds of curriculum are great, but can be very expensive.  They have fit a need for us for many years and my daughter will continue use parts of a boxed curriculum this year.  I will be modifying her curriculum to use some of the products we have found through the Crew and to change up some subjects in the boxed curriculum that have not been completely effective for her.
  4.  Should You Make Your Own Curriculum?   This is exactly where we are this year for my son.  The boxed curriculum wasn't working and I knew we had to make changes.  I picked what subjects were working for us and the materials to go with them first.  Then I started looking at my options for the other subjects.  Once we decided what he wanted to study for History and we approved of his topic choice, I started looking for resources, materials, and ideas to put together my own curriculum for him.  We will be working on Unit Studies and working our way through the Civil War this year for history.  I do the same with other subjects he will be working on too.
  5. Do I Need to Make Adjustments?   This is something I am constantly aware of because honestly sometimes you have to try a method or product for awhile before you know if it works for your students.  Also you might need to make adjustments to the boxed curriculum you buy and that is okay too.  Some parts of that curriculum may work really well for your student, but other parts might not or they may have interests that are different that you want to encourage.  Make the adjustments you feel are necessary for your students, you will be happy that you did.  It will help your school run smoother and many times you can catch issues before they become too big or you get too far in.  Don't be afraid to change what isn't working.  
These are the things I regularly assess for our school and take into account when deciding what to do about curriculum.  The biggest help I can give in this area is that no two students are alike.  What works for one of your students may not work for your other students and that is okay.  It might take a little more work to find something that does work, but there are many great options out there.  So keep looking!  What do you do about curriculum in your school?
5 Days of Homeschool 101
Like I mentioned at the beginning, I am participating in a blog hop this week with my friends so please click their links and read what they have to say about each subject.


  1. Right now I'm not sure if we need different curriculum for my girls or just different start years. Either way their interest and learning skills are vastly different from each other.

    1. That always makes it tough. Maybe you could do the same curriculum with different extra curricular activities for each?


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