There comes a point in every homeschool parent’s journey where they have to figure out which homeschool curriculum will fit their family’s needs and provide an acceptable level of education simultaneously.
This can be one of the most exciting times in the early stages of teaching from home, but there are certain hiccups you may face during this process that have the potential to set you back a few days or even weeks if you aren’t careful. With a little help though, it can be an extremely simple process.
My goal by the end of this article is to leave everyone a little more informed on the sometimes monotonous hunt for the best homeschooling curriculum that caters to their respective lifestyle.
Hey there, my name is Jerromy and I am all about that homeschooling life!
I was homeschooled on a farm and I do my best to apply the same values I was brought up with as I teach my own children at home to this very day.
My main goal is to help other homeschooling parents make educated decisions about their kids’ schooling by providing resources and information to help them avoid the mistakes I have made on my journey homeschooling my kids.
If you are new to homeschooling, check out my article on how to get started the easy way.
Affiliate Disclosure: This site DOES contain affiliate links throughout. All this means is if you follow a link on any of my pages and make a purchase, I could receive a commission or referral reward, all at no extra cost to you!
What is a Homeschool Curriculum?
The curriculum you choose for your students will be the actual information they learn; the grouping of different mediums, materials, exercises, and contexts from which they will gain knowledge during their studies.
This is different than the lesson plan, which is how you intend to carry out your studies, on a daily, weekly, and even yearly basis in order to meet the demands of life and your selected study material.
There’s a lot to choose from!
There are so many resources available to you, that it can be all too easy to select the first option you come across, but making sure you select the right option for your family is critical to their success, and your own.
There are many things to consider during this process, and I hope to get you started in the right direction so you can slide through this step with minimal effort.
Do Your Research!
This is a tough one sometimes simply because of the ever-growing number of options that are available, but this only means there are that many different directions you can take! It can be difficult to feel like you have ever made the best choice without looking at ALL options before making your selection, but discovering new ways to learn is all part of the fun!
Check laws and restrictions often!
Check State Regulations! Make sure there aren’t going to be any restrictions to follow or specifications you will need to meet in your state of residence in order to remain legal and avoid any disruptions to your new way of life.
If you are brand new to the whole teaching your kids at home thing, I highly suggest you check out my article covering How To Start Homeschooling Your Child, to possibly pick up a few tips that could make a world of difference as you begin this lifechanging process.
If you have been at this for a while, feel free to read over my posts and leave comments about your own experiences as a parent/teacher, and tips and tricks you have discovered on your path. I would truly love to hear what you have to say and I am certain that others would too!
Consider Your Family’s Means
Before you can start this process, you need to know what expectations and limitations you might face on your journey.
You will want to weigh all opinions and facts here in order to avoid setting yourselves up for failure by going in a direction not compatible with what your family can actually commit to on a regular basis.
Time to keep track!
Get a notebook and write all your budget information down so you can have a reference as you move through different topics and have a better idea of what you need as you search for resources and set educational goals.
Things you will want to identify:
- Student Learning styles
- Time availability
- Living situation
- Resources already available to you
Different learning styles may mean you will need more than one lesson plan and curriculum.
The timeframe is important when determining if you need a high-demand curriculum or a more relaxed option, as well as the extent of the education and the flow of information your child will be receiving.
If you travel a lot or live on the road, you may want an option that has fewer required materials and can be accessed from a mobile device of some sort, or stick to workbooks that can be stored easily and ordered at ease.
If you aren’t a computer-friendly household, there are many curricula that depend on textbooks and written assignments instead of having to worry about the tech requirements of the online options.
Depending on how extensive or what areas you want your students to study can affect the price of all the required materials of some options, even the online ones. Setting a monthly or yearly budget will not only keep you from spending too much on resources but can make sure you are investing enough into your children and their education.
If you don’t already have a family budget drawn up, it is critical that you include all financial information (income, bills, etc.) as you pin down an appropriate education budget to ensure you can continue to school, even during months that might see a decrease in income or an increase in spending; holiday seasons or vacations, seasonal workers, etc.
Free resources Everywhere!
A lot of things you likely have already simply being a parent can be applied to their schooling in some way. Used notebooks with only a few pages written in can be cleaned up and used, or reams of copy paper that have been in the office collecting dust make great scratch paper or craft supplies. Even that old computer that barely connects to the internet can be added to your toolkit to teach little techies more about how a computer works or how to program their own software.
Before we go any further, I want you to know that as long as you are teaching your kids basic knowledge that is necessary for life, relevant to their age and maturity level, you are doing just fine! Math, science, reading, and social skills are the main ones to worry about, and most of these lessons can be taught in a variety ways, most of which don’t actually require a desk or the word “school” to be implied at all if you get creative enough.
There are no right or wrong answers here because you create the definition of what right and wrong are when pertaining to your children and their education (within legal and moral bounds of course).
Discover different ways to homeschool!
Finding a good model to base your own operations around is the first step to a successful homeschooling experience for you and your family.
There are many different schools of thought for how to teach at home, for now just to keep things simple, we will touch on characteristics of a few of the most basic models that I have personal experience with:
This take on homeschooling mimics the average classroom setting closely to provide some of the same structure that is included in a public school setting.
- Familiar setting for some kids
- Easy to implement structure
- Materials are easy to obtain
- Tried and true
- Often carries a high demand lesson plan
- State tests will apply in most cases
- Might have a higher overhead cost if you have a larger family; cost of multiple curricula, desks, supplies, etc.
Unschooling or “Roadschooling”
Unschooling puts education in the kids’ hands, which makes scheduling a breeze. Rather than making them do school at set times, you set them up to learn on the move and in a multitude of ways throughout their day.
The basis of unschooling is teaching your kids HOW to learn instead of WHAT to learn, and they do the hard parts themselves. It’s not as simple as the name suggests, mind you.
Pros and Cons of Unschooling:
- No testing requirements (in most cases)
- Pick and choose what, where, and when to learn
- Easy to implement in day to day life as a parent
- hard to manage at times
- can lack structure
- up to the parent-teacher to create the entire lesson plan (generally)
- requires a certain level of motivation
Overall, I feel like this approach is best for beginners because you can really show your kids how easy homeschooling can be. If they stay motivated and complete an acceptable amount of work each week that meets a set (by you) standard, you know this is a good fit.
Check out my post that covers tips for Getting Started with Unschooling if you are considering this path to pick up a few unschooling ideas to implement in your own homeschooling schedule.
This homeschooling method carries traits from both traditional and unschooling but is more hyper-focused with hands-on activities in areas that are based on your children’s individual talents and learning styles. This allows them to get the necessary information by performing a set of actions to accomplish a lessons goal or complete a project.
Lesson plans can be as strict or lenient as needed to help kids achieve their own goals in a timely fashion. Often in these cases, the children will be eager to get more work done because they are able to choose when and what they learn, you just have to provide the where.
- Student specified curricula help retain motivation
- Teach only what is necessary, which can mean whatever you define necessary as.
- Planning stages are more student-centered
- Easy to implement hyper-focused STEM strategies with this path
- The lesson plan and curriculum evolve with the student’s knowledge
- Takes a little experience
- Can rack up a high bill for all the different resources (depending)
- Requires a higher level of motivation
This method might not be ideal for beginners, simply because you will need to know exactly what your child wants to learn, and the best way to go about it based on their individual learning style.
Eclectic homeschooling would be great for students who know what they want out of life and want to achieve it quickly. Someone who wants to be a software engineer, for instance, can start learning the coding fundamentals in middle school that will slingshot them into a career or the pursuit of higher education once they graduate. Why stop there though, they have every opportunity to be a master in their field before they ever start working if they are dedicated enough!
If you are looking for more information before you settle on a specific method of homeschooling, check out my article on Discovering your Own Style of Homeschooling!
Different homeschooling curriculum formats to choose from
Most common types of curricula being:
- or video-based formats.
This factor will be determined by your teaching style and the learning styles of your student.
Whatever route you go here, there will be a similar overhead cost, but if you are a budget shopper, there are many things you can do to reduce the cost of your homeschooling adventure (article coming soon).
Online Learning is an Easy, Affordable Option
More often than not, an online option will have most of the tools you need to set schedules and lesson plans with ease. At least pertaining to the education they receive under the platform that is. Even grading and progress reports to track your students’ success or determine what areas they need to focus on more will be readily available.
There are many platforms and resources out there that can be used singularly as an unschooling curriculum or as part of a broader eclectic curriculum.
Taking an online approach might also be a good opportunity to put all those electronic devices your kids have to good use. Instead of watching youtube, they can spend that time learning a new skill or studying an area of interest.
There are some online platforms that can be operated 100% from your phone, potentially saving you money and giving you even more freedom on how you school your kids from home!
Workbook Based Curriculum Are Easy to Implement
This is a very familiar and easy-to-start option as most parent-teachers and students have spent at least some amount of time learning from textbooks and workbooks.
Generally, a book-based option would be best for those who have chosen a more traditional approach, but would also be a viable option to make up part of an eclectic or unschooling curriculum as well if you want to focus on or supplement higher reading activity to improve literacy and reading level.
You can expect to find all the core subjects readily available but in most cases, and I have seen a few with a build your own bundle approach so you can save on things you might not need and invest in what your child needs to learn. Extracurricular activities and studies will need to be added through supplemental resources if they aren’t included as an option with the platform you have selected.
Some websites even offer a used book system that allows you to essentially rent the books and return them when you are done. Assuming they retain their condition, you could potentially receive a full refund or credit towards next year’s books!
There are definitely far more book-based curricula out there than there are online options, and you can guarantee to find one that meets your religious, cultural, and educational requirements and fits within the lesson plan and budget you set for your family.
Some Prefer a Video Based Homeschool Curriculum
This might be a good option for those kids who spend hours watching videos as they are already used to watching and listening to someone explain things and receiving information that way.
Surprisingly, there are choices for both online and offline learning, so a video curriculum in the form of DVDs could be utilized by those less than tech-friendly families as a supplement or a full-on curriculum with extreme ease.
This has never been a good format for my family as a primary source of education, but with most online curricula, you will find a lot of video resources that your children respond well to. I think the relationship with the TV as being a form of entertainment doesn’t allow my bunch to properly absorb the information when it’s not something they consider fun, but they are all very different from one another in how they learn which is what caused or grief with this method.
This is just our experience though, and I have known many families that did well with a video-based curriculum and their kids loved it!
Setting Off On Your Journey
Now you should have a better understanding of each of the following:
- Answering the question, “What is a Homeschooling Curriculum?”
- How to start homeschooling your child the easy way (if you read my other article)
- Your families’ homeschooling budget and time frame.
- Which methodology you wish to follow.
- The different basic formats for homeschool curricula.
With this information, you are equipped to set off on your teaching adventure by choosing a curriculum for each of your students that will aid them in their own quests to higher learning. How exciting!
I wish you all the best on your homeschooling journey!
***I owe a majority of my children’s success to an amazing online homeschool curriculum, Time4learning
I implement this platform into the curricula for each of my children because it aligns with each of their learning styles and provides an awesome easy to use platform with scheduling and record keeping all internally!
If you don’t like it, request a full refund before the 14-day money-back guarantee is up, but I suspect you will not be disappointed with everything time4learning has to offer that can make your life as a homeschool parent so much easier.
Need some convincing? Check out my Review of Time4Learning!
If you are looking for an affordable, beginner-friendly, intuitive platform that offers a complete non-religious homeschool curriculum, for either course material or as a supplement, check it out today!***