How to choose the best homeschool curriculum for your family, as well as how to let go of expectations about sticking with that one curriculum forever.
“We don’t go to homeschool conventions to buy our curriculum. We go to buy our next curriculum.”
We have been homeschooling from the beginning. Our oldest is now 22 and graduating from college this year. And he can attest to the fact that I changed curriculum constantly during his homeschooling years.
You could say I was (and still am, to an extent) a curriculum junkie who thrives on the high of getting that “next curriculum.” Yet, when I started homeschooling back in 2003, I only knew of one small homeschool catalog and I somehow managed to teach my son to read using only the resources from that one catalog. *gasp*
As I learned more about all the homeschooling resources out there (and there are so many more today!), I began a frantic search for the “perfect” curriculum – one that solve all my problems and last from Child #1 through Child #10.
But my frustration only grew as I realized no curriculum was perfect, and no curriculum was the best forever. At first, I thought it was ME. But as I plodded through the first 3 years of homeschooling going from curriculum to curriculum, I began to understand my family’s homeschooling needs better. I also began to see myself as the “master” of the curriculum and not the “slave” to it.
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This is MUST READ for new homeschool moms!
Many of you homeschool moms wonder why the curriculum you buy never seems to work the way you would like it to. You can’t seem to stick with the program or manage all the lessons or keep your children engaged. You wonder if you will ever find the perfect curriculum – the BEST curriculum for your family. And you feel alone in your plight.
But you’re not alone.
How to choose the best homeschool curriculum for your family
First of all, you need to get a grip on your family’s needs THIS YEAR. Maybe even THIS SEMESTER. Don’t get ahead of yourself, planning out years worth of homeschooling because things change (more on that in a moment…) Prayer is a good way to figure out the direction you need to head with your curriculum needs because God is reliable and faithful even when your brain is not.
Secondly, consider if the curriculum you already own can simply be tweaked to fit your needs. Don’t discount what is already on your shelves. It may just need some adjusting.
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Thirdly, try to get your hands ON the curriculum you are considering. This is sometimes difficult to do with so much of our ordering done online. But, try to attend a convention with a stocked vendor hall or check around in your local homeschooling groups (someone is bound to own what you are looking for!) and see if you can get your eyes inside the curriculum. Sometimes that is all you need to say yay or nay to a curriculum.
And lastly, give it a shot! It’s ok to take a risk. Check for money-back guarantees and take your time with a really big purchase, but recognize sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes it just doesn’t work out because…
No homeschool curriculum is the “best.”
No homeschool curriculum is perfect forever.
Here are three reasons why no curriculum is the “best,” and why even when it seems perfect for a while, it doesn’t always stay that way…
1 – Your children change.
They were little, now they are big. There were 2 of them, now there are 6. They used to be interested in dinosaurs, now they are interested in robots. And the list goes on and on and on.
This is the beauty of homeschooling. You don’t have to remain static and continue to teach from the box. You get to grow with their needs and interests!
READ >> What is Delight Directed Homeschooling? (series)
2 – You change.
Of course, a homeschool mom can have physical changes in her life that cause her to need to change things up in her homeschool day, but let’s talk about the spiritual changes a homeschool mom goes through.
I am not the same spiritually as I was 17 years ago when we began this homeschooling journey. Homeschooling causes you to dig deep and teaches you more than you ever realized you would learn. The biggest lessons you learn are the spiritual ones. You learn more about your Bible and your God and you learn how utterly dependent you are on Christ. You go from milk to meat, ever-growing and ever-changing.
Because of that, your ideas about curriculum change too. Often, you find yourself playing it safe and sticking close to the public school guidelines in the beginning, but as you mature spiritually, you find yourself less concerned with academics and more concerned with your children’s spiritual growth. You find you want to bring out different things in your homeschool day…things that lead your children to Christ. And sometimes this means a change in curriculum.
Now, I do want to caution you about a change in you that may not be so noble, and you will know right away if this is you or not…
Is your curriculum not working out because you are discontent?
One way you will know if this is your real issue is if you see discontentment in the rest of your life as well. Do you feel agitated in your marriage? Are your kids driving you nuts? Is your house feeling like a chaotic mess?
You may be looking for a change in your curriculum to compensate for a lack of control in other areas of your life. Curriculum is easily controlled. Life is not.
Changing curriculum isn’t going to fix everything else in your life, so consider if that shiny new curriculum is actually the issue.
3 – Your family changes.
Circumstances change for families all the time. Rarely do family dynamics remain the same all throughout your homeschooling years. You have to accept these changes and do what needs to be done to work with these changes.
Perhaps you started homeschooling with one small child and now you have 10. Perhaps your husband doesn’t have a job right now or you are sending a child to college. Perhaps you are entering the foreign mission field or returning home after years away. Perhaps you have a child who needs some serious shepherding or a family member who must come to live with you. All of these things will effect your homeschooling and will possibly require you to adjust your curriculum.
Ultimately, only God is perfect.
Curriculum will disappoint. Circumstances will change. And your homeschool will need to adapt. And God is there guiding and directing the path for you, your children, and your family. God is growing you up. God is piercing little hearts and minds. God is revealing Himself to you each and every day.
You must be willing to say, “Where He leads, I will follow.”
No curriculum will ever be better than God. We aren’t searching for “perfect” or “best” because it doesn’t exist. We are seeking a God Who satisfies our every need and yes, sometimes He will lead us to a new curriculum…our next curriculum
Originally published in 2012. Updated in 2020