By Contributing Writer, Bambi Moore
This is the time of year that I’m cleaning out closets, donating or swapping books with other homeschool moms, and also making purchases. As homeschoolers we are blessed to have so many options out there, but what works for one family may not work for another. Also, there are so many options now for parents who educate their children at home, that the task can seem overwhelming!
I love to rely on real-life learning and want my children to learn by exploring, creating, investigating and just living. It’s what a real education is made of no matter what curriculum (if any) you choose.
Here are ten questions that I ask myself to make sure a homeschool curriculum will be a good fit for our family:
1.) Does it glorify God?
I want my children immersed with truth. This especially applies to history and science.
2.) Does it support a Biblical Worldview?
This can really weed out a lot of academic-focused curricula. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. We have to have our priorities straight.
3.) Does it fit with my educational philosophy?
If I love workbooks and feel most comfortable with that, then it would be a disaster to try to teach with an eclectic approach or interest-led learning.
4.) Do we have the time available to complete it, or will it adapt well to my family’s time and schedules?
I chose once to use a history program that I knew we couldn’t possibly get through in one year, but it was easy to adapt it into a two-year course.
5.) Does it fit my teaching style?
I have never liked hands-on learning, and so I know not to go near any curricula that requires me to build a replica of a medieval castle in our living room, re-enact the civil war or build a small train engine . Other moms thrive on that stuff, and I think my kids would probably like them better. But they are stuck with me (insert evil laugh).
6.) Does it match my child’s learning style?
It gets tricky when mom’s teaching style doesn’t match the child’s learning style, but if, for instance, I know my child is an auditory learner, that can make a big difference in my choices for him/her.
7.) Is it realistic for my family this year?
There are years that a baby is due to arrive in the smack middle of the fall. There have been years that we’ve moved. If the curriculum has many components, and you love it, but wonder if it might stress you out beyond all reason to actually get it done…chances are…it will. My children are better off learning a smaller amount of academic material with a nice and relaxed mommy, than they are having their heads crammed with facts by a cranky mommy.
8.) Can it be re-used?
There are lots of good materials that just cannot be reused . We have a favorite Latin curriculum that simply must be bought each year because of the consumable workbook it uses. But if possible, it saves money to buy books that other children can use later on. I am finding that I buy less and less curricula each year because of what was purchased for an older child if it was non-consumable. This especially holds true if it was bought while answering the first seven questions on this list!
9.) Can it be used with a variety of ages?
My teaching time is precious, so when subjects can be combined for more than one child, that is a big draw for me.
10.) Last but not least: Is it in my budget?
There are some great homeschool materials out there that simply aren’t affordable, and frankly, I wonder how they are attainable to many families at all! For our family, I pray and choose the most important subjects first when there is an expensive purchase that has to be made. I use the library for loans as well as the Internet for freebies. A great resource is Homeschool Freebie of the Day.
Above all I ask for wisdom from the Lord because it’s for Him that we train these precious souls!
(You might also be interested in a series I compiled last spring called Homeschooling Shouldn’t Be Stressful.)