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One of the biggest expenses while homeschooling is the curriculum. Well outside of the food, I mean at least in our house, the kitchen gets more traffic than rush hour. Especially having 4 boys. I feel like my boys are always hungry.
Our family for the longest time has been a one income family. My husband being the diligent handworker, he is, has been affording us the ability to homeschool, and take care of the needs that each our kids have. Led me to develop a list of questions that I use to make sure to ask when I am choosing curriculum for our boys.
Below I am providing you with these questions that use. I always make sure to ask these question as I want the curriculum to be a great fit to our family and that we can afford it.
I do want to make sure to point out that each child is unique, which I believe means that each child’s education needs to be unique. There really is not anything wrong with boxed curriculum, but knowing your child you need to make sure that it is something that your child will fit into.
Start by asking can I afford it? You need to set a budget. If you cannot afford it, it will not be worth the money, while this is a tough one, I can tell you there are other ways to teach your child that same curriculum.
For example ask yourself-Could you borrow it? Check if there are options like at your local library, or talk to another homeschool family to see if they may have it and that you could borrow it from them. There are also if places like Amazon rentals or https://www.yellowhousebookrental.com/ that you could rent from.
Then I ask myself does the material focus the student on questions and significance? This was a hard lesson for our family, things I thought were fun, my kids didn’t, and it made things difficult. I later found answers are boring, puzzles to solve were not interesting, getting to the answer was difficult or didn’t make sense, and it usually ended in having someone else tell all the answers just to get it done.
The next question is, do I have time in the day to use this? Especially important to consider when buying extra supplemental materials. We want our children to learn it all but if you are trying to fit it all in you and your children will burn out.
Which leads to do the assignments stay focused on the meaning or lead the child down rabbit trails of distraction? Sometimes hands-on activities are just distractions in disguise. Will the activities keep your child thinking about the meaning/concept/fact you are trying to get into their long-term memory? Does the curriculum create thinking? If our students don’t actively think, they won’t remember, hence they aren’t learning.
My next question is, is the curriculum well-organized? With a wealth of information at our fingertips, we find the need to buy a curriculum to get something that is organized and put together, making life easier. Organization equals time and time equals money.
Which begs the question will it be easy to use? The truth is if it isn’t easy to use you probably won’t use it. Thus, don’t purchase it and keep that money. If you desire a curriculum that is hard to use, do your research and piece together some of the millions of free resources that allow you to carefully craft them together yourself for something you know your child/ren will learn from and use.
The next question to ask are the assignments interesting/engaging? Having varieties of input (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) can help keep things interesting, keeping the lessons short is important especially when your kids are young, and using a variety in types of thinking (convergent, divergent, analytical, creative, etc.) help ingrain things in their growing brains.
Which brings me to the last question I ask will it develop a child’s mind, body, and soul? Not every subject has to do all three, but the curriculum you choose should be considering all these areas. You are the director of education in your home, it is essential you keep all of these in mind when building your days. When you don’t schedule these aspects, they will become neglected, and you do want to be feeding each of these aspects.
The curriculum you choose should not make you feel like you have to break the bank to get the best education. You can educate your child and have a well rounded education whether you are teaching from a book that is free or $1000. It really comes down to how the child absorbs the information, learns from what is being put in front of him or her and how it fits the child. Homeschooling gives the opportunity to give your child/ren a unique opportunity to learn. Give them just that!!