Inside: Choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your family can feel overwhelming. There are lots of options out there, but which is the right fit? Here are some things to consider.
One of the most exciting yet difficult parts of homeschooling is deciding which curriculum to use (if you choose one at all). There are SO MANY options out there, which is simultaneously fantastic and overwhelming.
How do you even begin to decide which one is right for your family?
6 considerations when choosing homeschool curriculum
These range from more overarching themes down to day-to-day effects for your family.
1. What’s your Homeschooling Style?
Your homeschooling style will really narrow down what type of curriculum you’re looking for. If you’re more traditional, you’ll want more textbook/workbook style lessons.
If you like Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods, you’ll want to either have a very simple curriculum that you can build upon yourself with living books and other resources OR you’ll want something that has all of that built in for you.
If you’re gameschoolers / unschoolers / worldschoolers, you may opt for a very light curriculum or none at all (but if that’s the case, I doubt you’d be here!).
Do you have multiple children? Do you plan on doing lots of family-style lessons and only branching off individually for math and language? Or do you plan to do everything separate?
All of this will affect your choice.
2. Religious considerations
As a Christian family, we wanted curriculum that, at the very least, did not come from an anti-Christian worldview. Maybe your family feels the same or maybe you feel completely opposite.
There’s lots of choices out there for Christian or secular homeschooling families. Admittedly, I’m not sure about the availability for curriculum with a worldview of any other religion since I’ve never personally looked for it.
Stemming from the last one, core values are important. If you value family, you don’t want a curriculum with reading material that constantly undermines that by showcasing characters with unkind or disrespectful attitudes toward family members.
If you’re teaching even your young children to put in their best effort during lessons, you won’t want something that drags on and on, making it difficult for them to stay on task.
If you value art and creativity, you won’t want curriculum that either ignores those things or makes them feel dry and bland.
4. Academic Fitness
How will the curriculum aid in preparing your child for life and giving them the proper educational scaffolding? This will look different for every child.
Maybe you have a child with special needs or who has a learning different-ability. The curriculum that you choose should be tailored to what will help your child learn their very best.
On the other hand, if you have a child who’s advanced, you don’t want them to be bored. You want something that will challenge them and keep their interest in learning alive.
You’ll also want to consider your student’s interest where possible. In our homeschool, this is especially fun with science. I’ve let my children choose every science unit we’ve done so far so that it’s always a topic that at least one of them is highly interested in.
Let’s also think practically. We’re a family on a budget with four children. We need something that is cost-effective while not compromising on quality. And thankfully, there are several quality options available for those wanting to homeschool without breaking the bank.
If money isn’t a consideration for your family, the sky’s the limit. (But don’t knock the lower-cost curriculum. You may be surprised to find that one of my favorite curriculum companies has free options for language arts, and a different resource that we’ve recently started using is completely FREE. Both are academically excellent).
6. Daily Functionality
Let’s face it. There’s some curriculum that seems to check all the other boxes but just doesn’t work for the day-to-day life of everyone. And that’s okay.
This is why it’s so important to check out samples and imagine yourself leading a lesson. Check out blog reviews. Watch YouTubers talk about their experience or their day-in-the-life using the curriculum.
No matter how much you love the look of the curriculum or the core values it emphasizes, don’t rush to get something that won’t really work for you.
I’m speaking from experience. I tend to leap if my heart is in something, even if I have reservations in the back of my mind. I tend to push the doubts down and think, we’ll figure it out!
Be honest with yourself. Think about the workload that you and your kids can handle on the daily and what subjects you’ll need to spend the most time on.
Where Can I Find the Right Curriculum?
The best places to begin your search are:
- homeschooling conventions
- curriculum review sites
- homeschooling and curriculum-based Facebook groups
Great Homeschool Conventions is a popular choice for homeschooling events. There’s always a large (discounted!) selection of curriculum to flip through and consider. I’ve never personally been there, but friends who have went weren’t disappointed.
PLUS you get to hear great speakers who have been there, done that and are willing to pour their wisdom out for you.
Of course, COVID has put a kink in the festivities for this year, but there’s still an online Great Homeschool Convention happening through December. Check it out here.
As far as curriculum review sites are concerned, you can’t go wrong with Cathy Duffy. I’ve read many a review over there to help me weigh options.
And of course, it’s always a good idea to hear from other moms. Whether it’s on YouTube, in a Facebook group, or someone you know in real life, the experiences of other mothers (and fathers) can be valuable for us to draw from.
Popular Curriculum Choices
Here are some tried and true options (if you fall into the categories of families that these resources serve), starting with ones we’ve personally used.
The Good and the Beautiful
The Good and the Beautiful is a gorgeous curriculum that seems to be growing in popularity every year. It puts strong emphasis on good literature, family, moral character, and nature. It’s considered non-denominational Christian.
There is a debate centered around the creator being a member of the LDS church. However, she has a team of people from the spectrum of Christian denominations to ensure that the curriculum does not include anything against core Christian values.
I haven’t personally found anything that’s upsetting to me. The LDS church does place high emphasis on moral character, so there’s a lot of that in the curriculum. I don’t have an issue with that since we also want our children to value good morals. I just make sure we’re also solid on the gospel and that they know fruits of the Spirit only grow because of Christ and His grace toward us.
Full disclosure, we started off using only the Good and the Beautiful but have since decided to branch out. While I love their curriculum, there are times when it doesn’t seem to serve us. Mainly because of the length of certain lessons. I’m not one to skimp on academics, but some things felt unnecessarily long.
It also includes art and literature. However, as I’ve started transitioning more to the Charlotte Mason method, I’ve found myself wanting to choose our picture studies and the books my kids read from. So we’ve been using the Good and the Beautiful a little less.
Last year we used their language arts, math, science units (Arthropods, Safety, and Marine Biology), handwriting, Nature Notebooks, and the arts and crafts booklet.
This year, I ordered the language arts, math, history, typing, science units (Mammals, Human Body, and Energy) and handwriting BUT we won’t be using all of it. THIS is what I was talking about above. I knew in my heart that not all of that stuff was going to fit the day-to-day flow I was looking for, but I ordered it all anyway because I love the look and feel of The Good and the Beautiful. And at the time, I hadn’t found something else comparable.
Each of these materials is great and could be exactly what your family is looking for. But all together, it just doesn’t work for us. We’ll still be going through the science units, history, handwriting and typing. We’re currently still using the math as well, but I’m not opposed to switching to something else. We’ve dropped the language arts completely and replaced it.
Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool
This is one that I’d heard of from other homeschooling moms in various Facebook groups but never wanted to check out because let’s face it, that NAME. It seemed like maybe it was over-simplified or that it wouldn’t be what I was wanting academically for my kids. When I found out that it’s FREE, my suspicions only grew.
But our transition to Charlotte Mason has brought about lots of rethinking. Plus, like I said, we’re on a budget, and I had already bought this year’s curriculum.
What was there to lose?
We logged in, tried it, and haven’t looked back.
Right now, we’re only using the language, reading, and thinking skills. But it was exactly what I was looking for.
- flows with our day,
- still advanced academically, and
- the kids can do some of it on their own while I work with a sibling.
Plus, it uses the McGuffey Readers online as the reading lessons for younger students. LOVE.
Not Consumed isn’t necessarily a curriculum company, but it’s a great resource for kids’ Bible studies, which we’re using during our morning Bible time together.
They also have an excellent missionary study (which uses chapter books about the life of each missionary studied) that my son and I have been going through together. I’ve cried on more than one occasion while we read through their stories, and it’s been so edifying for our faith. Highly recommend!
Popular Choices We Have Not Used
- Simply Charlotte Mason (her YouTube channel is also extremely helpful for those wanting to incorporate the Charlotte Mason style of learning into their homeschool)
- My Father’s World
- Language Lessons for a Living Education
- Math Lessons for a Living Education
- Math Mammoth
- Horizons Math
- Singapore Math
- Teaching Textbooks
- Math U See
What other questions do you have surrounding curriculum and how to decide between all the choices available. Drop a comment below!
Until next time,