Every homeschool parent at some point in time has to address the big question – what curriculum do I want to use? Sometimes you find yourself asking that question over and over with each child and each subject to best suit the needs of each of your students. While it is true that extreme personalization is one of the great benefits of homeschooling, it can also be overwhelming at times to search high and low and still not know if you have found the best option. Here are 5 ways you can find great homeschool curriculum resources for teaching your children.
1) Ask Your Friends
If you know other homeschool parents, they have likely been down this same road. Even if they do not know which the best is, they can tell you what worked and what didn’t for their kids. But just because it was great for them does not mean it will be for you. Be sure to know:
- Is their homeschooling style similar? If you love a very organized school day and they feel that “unschooling” is a better fit for them, then you both will probably need different curriculum.
- Are their values the same? Perhaps they use a homeschool curriculum created by Catholics and you are Protestant. Maybe teaching about many cultures is very important to you and they would rather focus on European history. If you have major differences in ideas, that will show up in the curriculum you choose.
- What age and grades are their children? Be sure to choose something that worked for a similar skill level.
- Do either your kids or theirs have special needs or gifting? If their child had trouble with math, and yours is in advanced classes, or their child is an avid reader and yours is dyslexic, then the same curriculum will probably not work for both children.
2) Join a Group
You may be saying to yourself, “What homeschool friends?” Sometimes, for one reason or another, you find yourself without other connections in the homeschool community. These groups are not only great places for your children to make friends, but can also provide invaluable support and advice.
The best option is to find a local group so that you can meet in person, take advantage of group discounts for field trips, and grow community together as families. Search online for “homeschool group in (my town)” and see what you can find. If this search is coming up short, the next best thing is to find an online support group. http://www.HomeEducator.com is one such site, and has a wealth of information available.
When searching, don’t forget to try more specific searches, such as “homeschool support group for children with dyslexia” or “homeschool support groups for Christian families” so that you can find something that really lines up with where your family is at.
3) Visit Conventions
As a homeschool graduate myself and now a homeschool mom, it amazes me how many homeschooling parents do not even know these exist. Many places have weekend conventions to attend just for homeschoolers. In addition to great speakers, a chance to find support groups and meet new friends (see above), they almost always have a significant vendor display area. This is so helpful because you get to not only see the titles and covers of materials, but you get to leaf through the books, play with the manipulatives, and quiz the representatives. You can see more curriculum in one place than you probably will anywhere else.
Find one in your area and visit their website. Often they may have resources to help you find local support groups too, as well as other tips.
4) Ask a Teacher
Even if you don’t have other homeschool moms in your life, you may just have a traditional teacher or two. While you want to tread carefully (as not all teachers are supportive of homeschooling and after all, they had to go to school for this), they can be a good resource or at least point you in the right direction. Ask for suggestions not only for specific curriculum, but also things to look for, or ways to meet the unique needs of your own children.
5) Innovate and Adapt
When all else fails, remember, you are the teacher, you are the parent, and you are able! You might not find the perfect curriculum all the time, every time. In that case, work with what you have to create a perfect solution for your child. Perhaps use part of a couple different curriculum. Supplement with extra activities to challenge the gifted child. Make up your own field trips, or even use any good book as a jumping off point. Homeschooling takes time. Lesson planning takes time. But if you are willing to invest, you will see the rewards in your children’s education for years to come.
Change Is Your Friend
Don’t ever allow yourself to get trapped in using bad curriculum that just doesn’t work. There are a multitude of resources out there that you just have to find. Part of the beauty of homeschool is being free from a rigid structure without change. If one thing is not working, try another. Make it work for you and your child. Don’t give up, and soon other moms will be coming to you asking, “Where did you get that great curriculum?”