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Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Curriculum

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Choosing a curriculum should not feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  The options can sometimes be overwhelming. But if you follow these tips and steps, it will help guide you through the process and make things seem less overwhelming.

I put together a list of questions that have helped me when making the decisions on which curriculum my husband and I find as the choice that aligns with what we are wanting to teach our children.

To start you need to know you have options.  Know that the process will take some time, but if you do it right the first time it will save you time and money in the long run.

 

The first thing you need to do is sit down and create a list of things that you believe and value. A list of things that when you fast forward to your grown-up adult children, what would those children have instilled in them, what kind of citizens will they be. Once you have that list write out a vision statement. Include what you want your family to gain from their homeschool journey. After you have created this list, you can then work through these questions to help you choose your curriculum. 

Question One- Can I Afford it?

While we would love to purchase all the curriculum that we find fits our family’s needs, doing so would leave us broke as I know that we can’t all be Angelina Jolie & Bratt Pitt, or Will and Jada Smith or Jennifer Lopez. We need to set a budget. You need to set a budget. If you cannot afford it, it will not be worth the money; while this is tough, I can tell you there are other ways to teach your child that same curriculum. This lead to the next question…

Question two- Could you borrow it?

I can tell you from personal experience that there are options to borrow your curriculum, books for supplemental reading, and even kits for experiments. All it takes is checking if there are options for the curriculum choices at your local library and if so borrow them. Another option is to see if a fellow homeschool family that may have it that you ask if you could borrow it. Depending on the rules of the local school system you may even be able to ask the local school if they have the items you may be looking for. For example, if you are looking for specific microscope slides, science equipment, or other supplemental supplies you may be needing. Not all districts are willing to do this, but there are some that are willing to, so it does not hurt to ask. 

Question Three- Does the Material Focus 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, usually ended in having someone else tell all the answers just to get it done.

Question Four-Do I have time in the day to use this?

This is 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. Here’s the thing, if you and your children do more than you are capable of, more than there is time in the day, you will burn out from the amount of load that you are trying to get through. So, be honest with yourself, and look at what is on your plate for the season that you are in. Take a deep look at what you and your kids have on your schedule, what is going to be happening in the next 6 months to a year, and make sure that you will have the time to do it. Also, look at if your child will be able to handle the amount of work to the amount of time they have to do it. 

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Question Five-Do the assignments stay focused on the meaning or lead the child down rabbit trails of distraction?

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Sometimes hands-on activities are just distractions in disguise. It is why it is important to ask yourself. 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.

Question Six-Is it 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. This means that even the best intentions can cause chaos. I honestly believe that there are times when less is more. This means that it is more effective to teach curriculum/lessons that are helping provide student motivation, performance, and interest. It also means that it allows for you the instructor, the teacher, you the parent to have the opportunity to enhance their learning and provide them with the motivation that they will find to drive them to do more. 

When the curriculum is designed so that the learning goals align with the activities and assessments to help students develop their knowledge, awareness, and their own ideas you will find that it is a curriculum that is well-organized. 

Question Seven- Will it be easy to use?

The truth is if it isn’t easy to use you probably won’t use it. That is why it is not just important to be well-organized but it means that if you are not finding what you are looking for, then take the time and 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 children will learn from and use. Something that will work for your child and their needs, your time, and the ultimate goal you have for your child to learn. 

Question Eight-Are the assignments interesting/engaging?

Having varieties in input (auditory (learns best by hearing the lesson), visual (learns best by seeing the lesson), and kinesthetic (learning by being hands-on, touching, doing it for themself)) can help keep things interesting. As will keeping the lessons on the short side. This is important especially when your kids are young. This also means using a variety of types of thinking (convergent (doing and thinking), divergent (feeling and watching), assimilating (watching and thinking), accommodating (doing and feeling), etc.) to help ingrain things in their growing brains. If you are not sure of your child’s learning type check out the quiz over on Homeschool and Humor to find out: 

What’s My Child’s Learning Style? Take the Quiz!

 

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Question Nine- 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 aspect. You can ask yourself these questions to fully understand if what you are teaching is doing this. First does your child seem excited about what they are learning, what they are doing, and how they are learning. Next questions to ask are how does your child like to move, and what are their favorite physical activities? The last questions to ask are what inspires your child, what does your child need to work on values, and 

Deciding on a curriculum really does come down to what fits your child. My hope is that these questions will help you process if the curriculum you are looking at is that fit. 

Know that you will find times when the curriculum you think is a fit, will not actually be. This is alright. Curriculum is not one size fits all, that is why we find so many options on the market. 

Make sure to take your time, think things through, and make the choices you feel will work. Blessing for your family and this amazing journey of being able to provide your child with a customized homeschool education. 

Leave a comment and tell me if you have other questions you may have on choosing a curriculum or homeschooling, I would love to hear from you!

Sign up here to get your PDF copy of these questions.

Are you ready for a new (home) school year?

It’s that time of year, when many homeschoolers are busy preparing for a brand new school year.  Some of you may have already started your new year, and some of you may have never stopped!

Planning for a new school year and finalizing curriculum choices can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, especially when you are trying to stick to a tight homeschool budget.

I’ve gotten together with a great group of bloggers to make getting ready for your new school year just a little bit easier and hopefully a little less stressful for you.  How does $200 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, and educational supplies. Three people will win a $200 gift card to Rainbow Resource Center!! 

Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need for their school year.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers and I have generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries.  And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!

Giveaway ends July 22, 2022 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers, (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).

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