It’s our first Crew Blog Hop of the year and our topic is “5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents”. For my first day, I decided to tackle a subject that was of the utmost importance to me when I started homeschooling: choosing curriculum. Even before I officially started homeschooling, I spent countless hours (I’m afraid to even say how many) researching curriculum. It became one of my biggest obsessions. There are SO many options out there that it can be almost overwhelming and making decisions about what to use can seem almost paralyzing. Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve learned a few things. I am by NO means an expert, but this is some of the advice I would give to myself as a new homeschool mom back then!
1. Start Small: Look, one of the biggest mistakes I made as a new homeschool mom was that I wanted to do EVERY single cool thing I saw. And one lesson I learned was that you can take on too much. If I could go back, I would probably start with one main big curriculum (say a literature based history or something) and then go basic for everything else, until I got into some kind of routine.
2. Combine as much as possible: When my boys were younger (before high school) I combined them for science and history, using products from Apologia, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace and Winter Promise. I cannot tell you how much easier that made my life. I could work individually with them for specific subjects like math, reading and spelling since they were three grades apart, but we could study some things together, which resulted in less planning and more family learning!
3. Spend Time Researching: Read reviews. For Real. The TOS Homeschool Crew offers a ton of reviews on countless numbers of curriculum, but you can pretty much search for any curriculum by name and turn up reviews on it! Pay attention to how the writer says they used the curriculum. What worked and what didn’t? Try to find users who have kids in the general same age as your kids, because that can give you a better idea of how it might work for you.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Workbooks/Textbooks: Look, I feel like a lot of homeschoolers feel some need to use whole books or lapbooks or something like that for everything. If it makes you feel comfortable, there is nothing wrong with using workbooks or textbooks. In fact, for subjects like spelling, math and reading, I kind of like the traditional approach. And, they can be very cost effective.
5. Check Out Online/Computer-Based Learning: Maybe you have a child that is naturally a techie. In that case, computer based learning may work best for them. Be sure to research these options. Companies like Alpha Omega offer programs like Monarch that are all computer based, and other companies, like Stinky Kid Math offer specific subjects you can supplement.
6. Don’t Make Comparisons : The biggest challenge with homeschooling is our natural tendency to compare ourselves with others. Keep in mind that your homeschool is specific to you and your kids. Try hard to resist the need to compare yourself and your kids to that mom in your homeschool group. This was really hard for me at first, but I began to realize that I didn’t do anything good for my kids by trying to make our school look like somebody else’s model. I had to let us be us. Choose your curriculum based on what you think will work best for you and your family. Period.
7. Allow your kids interests to dictate some things. There was a year we studied forensics for science because my kids were totally into it. We had so much fun. I also tied that study into a study of the human body using the Apologia Elementary Human Body curriculum. We did experiments on cells, fingerprints, blood typing, fibers, etc. To this day, my kids still talk about it. When your kids are in elementary and middle school, allow some of their interests to dictate your paths. Explore the things they want to explore. Trust me, it will make learning easier for all of you.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Step Out of the Box. Sometimes you see a curriculum you think your kids would love but you’re just afraid to try it because it’s just so…different from what you’ve done. I can tell you, some of the things we loved best were the risks we took. And, worst case scenario, even if you hate it, there’s a good chance you can resell it or pass it on to someone else!
So, those are my tips for what to consider when choosing curriculum. If you have any to add, let me know in the comments! See what other crew members had to share by checking out these links and join me again tomorrow when I share some tips for how to save money on curriculum!
Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers