Choosing a new curriculum is one of the critical decisions that parents will make when they start homeschooling, and it will form the foundation of the process and experience. Some parents will choose to create their own curriculum by reviewing the various publishers, reading blogs and talking to other homeschool families. This is a popular choice, but it can be expensive, takes up a lot of time each year to repeat the process and doesn’t always guarantee that parents will be pleased with the choice.
An easier solution is to research the best accredited home schools and compare their set curriculum options for the current grades. The hard work is already done, parents can review the schools for what they offer and the cost to make the decision. When going through the list of schools, parents need to consider a few things to make the right choice. Looking at curriculum for the current grades of your students is the top priority, but you should also take a look at what they offer for future grades. Parents often start homeschooling when their children are in elementary grade but high school is the time frame that has the most impact for sports and preparing for college. Ask about the elementary program but also review the high school curriculum and whether it is NCAA approved and how it sets students up for a successful college journey. One of the reasons it’s important to decide on a set curriculum early is for stability because subjects should build on themselves every year and if you have to switch the student to something new then they may have overlap or experience a gap in the information.
You might also like to read: How Do You Do Early Childhood Education Online?
If the parent is going to be the primary teacher, which is often the case for younger students especially K-2nd grade, then you need to look at the curriculum from that perspective. Parents need to be comfortable not only with the material, but its structure, pace and the resource guides that accompany the textbooks. While elementary studies might seem basic, they are the most important years because they set the foundation for every subject including math and reading which are incorporated throughout other areas of study. The curriculum should be clear, understandable, progressive (in that it builds each concept on another) and manageable for the time frame and grade it is associated with. The best accredited home schools offer previews and teaching assistance where parents have a direct connection for questions and ideas as they go through the year.
Another perspective to consider is the student’s because not all kids learn the same way. Textbooks or online classroom portals should be viewed as a resource that provides information and a learning experience connected to a certified teacher. However, parents need to review the curriculum in view of how their child absorbs information, make sure they are placed in the proper grade and class level (i.e. standard vs Honors) and decide whether print or online works best. Many students succeed with the online classroom because the best accredited home schools have created an easy system with small chunks of material which is explained and then reviewed in a quiz or homework. Homeschool students can learn at their own pace which removes the stress and pressure of keeping up with classmates and they can truly understand the subject before moving to the next concept. If the curriculum itself is disorganized, too advanced or doesn’t make sense to the parent then it probably won’t do any better for the student.
Lastly, there are many reasons that families choose to homeschool, but it often has to do with their situation. It could be due to health, living abroad, frequent moving due to parent’s employment or a dissatisfaction with the local school system. Regardless, parents should choose a curriculum and a program based on whether it meets the needs of their situation. If the school is rigid about start and end dates, doesn’t offer flex schedules or requires students to move faster than they are comfortable then it’s probably not the right fit. Parents may also want a curriculum that is faith-based where the Bible is incorporated into every subject along with a distinct Bible class. This will change the list of options as not all online homeschool programs offer this perspective.
There are many things to consider after you make the decision to homeschool, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you talk to homeschool friends and check out online resources. You know what your family needs and how your kids will learn best and remember that even if you don’t get it right the very first time, the key is to switch early so you can create stable learning environment as soon as possible. There are plenty of good options to choose from, take time to find the one that works for your family.