Five Tips for Choosing Curriculum

So often we get “hung up” where curriculum in concerned: it becomes the main thing and we lean into IT instead of into the Lord.
So with that said, here are some of my favorite tips for choosing curriculum!
Remember, moms, HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light.
Homeschooling should be a joy. It should not run you over and leave you for dead. 🙂
If you’re already overwhelmed by the curriculum or program you chose, it may be time to prayerfully consider another way. ♥
Photo: Some of my favorite tips for choosing curriculum! Remember, moms, HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light.  Homeschooling should be a joy. It should not run you over and leave you for dead.  :)  If you're already overwhelmed by the curriculum or program you chose, it may be time to prayerfully consider another way. <3

Heidi St John Homeschooling Guide to Daylight

About Heidi St. John

Heidi has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children and two grandsons! The St. Johns' children range in age from early elementary school to adult. They have homeschooled the kids all the way through high school. Heidi is the founder of MomStrong International, an online community of women learning to live biblically in an unbiblical world together .

43 thoughts on “Five Tips for Choosing Curriculum

  1. I have been using those rules when choosing the curriculum for my kids this year. This being our first year of homeschooling, it was very overwhelming to me. ALL OF IT! So I took it little by little and finally feel at peace with it all. Thankfully I have been doing “review” work over the summer so it would be much easier of a transition for us to move into homeschool. There are at times when I panic about all of this but know to take each day with a new spirit.

  2. This is so true. I have struggled at times with letting the “curriculum” rule. I’ve learned over the years that I need to rule the curriculum. If a math book says do 30 problems, I may ask my child to only do half…depending on how well he does. This has sure helped me. I also skip through things that they already know….no need to go over things that will bore the child, if they already mastered the concept.

  3. I learned this the hard way. I am now home schooling a 15 year old and a 7 year old. My teenage is finally getting an educated suited for him. My 7 year old will probably have the best, most enjoyable time being home schooled out of our 3 children. I wish I had taken control earlier instead of being controlled by unnecessary demands of a curriculum! Thanks for this list!

  4. I have changed curricula many times over the last seven years. It has taken all this time and all of those changes to start to get a feel for what I want for my household and my kids. The amazing thing (and I say this to reassure folks who may be new at this) is that despite all of the sweeping changes the kids have all continued to do quite well.

  5. This is my first year homeschooling. I will be schooling 4 and a toddler! I’m so thankful for a sweet friend that helped teach me about all the curriculum there was to choose from and what would work best for my children. Without this sweet friend I would be a mess! Our curriculum is ready and were starting next week!:)

  6. Wow–thank you for those tips! You are THE FIRST person I have EVER heard say that the curriculum you use should fit Mom’s learning style! That gives me “permission” that I really didn’t know I was needing or wanting!! I am so in love with our curriculum and have been since day one (four years ago), but some guilt seems to creep in ever so often and I begin second-guessing whenever I hear someone talk about “learning styles.” My kids are happy, and so am I, so that’s what matters, right? Many blessings to you!!

  7. After a year of trial and error, I am finally realizing how important a well thought out curriculum is! I rethought and revamped the entire approach I was using and I am now super excited to start the year. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this! I needed to read the part about a curriculum fitting my learning style. I hadn’t thought of that before. And you’re absolutely right ~ homeschooling should be a joy!

  9. All very true! I would also say that the Teacher Manual is a tool not a ruler. It is a guide not the judge. Do what you need to do for your family. Last year I had to drop somethings because it just did not work for us at that time in our lives. My daughter learned in spite of me not doing everything in the TM or exactly like the TM set it out on paper!

  10. I was stressing about curriculums and praying for wisdom (which God promises to give if we ask)…and of course he led me to a homeschooling mom who spoke such peace to me. She gave me some ideas on how she chose, but most importantly she pointed me to the Lord and reminded me why we were choosing to homeschool our boys. Thankfully I now have peace and the curriculum we are going to start with…and if we need to change at some point, I know where I will head…to my knees in prayer! 🙂

  11. These are great reminders to look at every single year! It really doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s okay to mix it up. You CAN change curriculum or even just for certain subjects. Whatever works in your own house.

  12. I totally agree with this! What works for one child may not work for them all. I have used a favorite curriculum for 6 years, and my oldest 2 thrived on it. Child #3 struggled with it all of last year.
    I am completely switching gears, and going with a much different style learning for him and the two after him. There is a curriculum out there (a guideline, if you will) for any style learning you need.
    Thank you for this reminder.

    Amy J

  13. I really needed these tips. I am getting ready to make a final decision on my curriculum this year and it can seem at times so overwhelming. Thank you for all the information, tips, advice and encouragement!

    Delana

  14. I stressed/struggled with that my first year!! I listened to others about what was the “BEST” curriculum to use. After praying about it ALOT I realized its not supposed to be this way! We’ve made changes over the years to find what works for us and I’m not struggling and wondering “why am I doing this???”

  15. A great reminder! Some of the best advice I got was to wait, and then wait some more, before buying any curriculum. My first grader is just now starting a very gentle curriculum. They grow up so fast. Life is still our main curriculum, especially with 3 kids under six. We all got dressed today so I’m feeling pretty proud lol!!

  16. Really enjoyed this reminder. I think one of the biggest struggles I have is realizing that if it isn’t working than it’s really ok to switch:-) God has blessed me with so many wonderful people in my family that to not give myself grace to change what is not working would be unkind to them and myself. Love your writing! THANK YOU!

  17. I felt so refreshed reading this. This summer I started falling into the trap of feeling like I needed to change from our well know phonics program to another equally well known phonics program since our youngest is a struggling reader. My husband has been kindly encouraging me to keep on using what we’ve had fun with and remember that it has worked before. Well my struggling reader is suddenly blossoming the last 3 weeks (yes using the same curriculum she’s been using all along and her brothers used) so I didn’t need to buy another expensive thing.

  18. Amen sister! My downfall in our first year homeschooling last year was trying to do school at home. We actually got burnt out and took time off to completely just live and learn through living life everyday! Wow what a blessing that time was for my girls and I. This year we are starting fresh and following the girls’ interests while learning more than any workbook alone could teach!

  19. I love the freedom in not having to do only academics. I have felt God leading our family into a year of discipleship. We are having Mondays as character building/teaching days. That is on top of daily devotions.

  20. I have a 3 1/2 yr old and a 9 month old, and we’re planning to homeschool. I already have 2 curriculums purchased for Kindergarten! I get so excited about it, I love the structure and preparedness!! I’m afraid with my excitement about all of it, that I have too many ideas and too much planned that I’m going to overwhelm my little ones! I never considered teaching as a career, but am now thinking maybe I should have to get some of this out 🙂 I love reading everyone’s journey – thank you all for sharing!! Heidi, I’m loving Guide to Romance! Thank you for honest, straight forward call to action!!

  21. The best advice I’ve ever heard is that we as teachers are not slaves to the curriculum. It is OUR tool! That is freeing! It helps me to have an overall method and goal then I can use just about any book or real life situation to educate my children.

  22. I learned several years ago that I needed to combine as much as I could even with different grade levels. I am so glad that I was able to do that. Now, I am down to just two students and they are both doing the same level of curriculum. Only math is at their own levels.

  23. Last year, we’re struggling with the curriculum we had so much, that my son would say he hated school. And I, not realizing it was the curriculum choice, would insist on plowing through it every day. Finally it had gotten so bad between us that we took a break. It was then that I realized maybe the curriculum was not the right fit. We ended up choosing a completely different curriculum, and the difference was like night and day. We were enjoying ourselves for the first time!

  24. Awesome reminders! I struggled with curriculum and learned these things the hard way when we started homeschooling four years ago. Yet I’ve been stressing again this year and then I see this reminder…. God is so good to give us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it!

  25. i am just new to your website… and new to homeschooling. i just started kinder with my oldest… i’m also busy with twin almost 4 year old boys and my youngest who is 2. did i mention that i’m a missionary in the Philippines. 🙂 i am sooo excited to see what the Lord wants to teach me though homeschooling.

  26. What a great reminder! It is so easy to get caught up in hours worth of unnecessary “busy” work, just because the textbook and teacher manual say to do it. If they’ve mastered the concept, I say move on and hit it for practice occasionally. Pages upon pages of the same type of math problem in one day, for example, is totally non-productive and only serves to make your child miserable and dread school.

  27. I get so nervous picking curriculum because I know that our financial situation does not allow me to choose another once we’ve started. I buy mostly used books and trust myself that I CAN teach. I remind myself that I’ve taught them to speak, to sign, to eat properly, to walk, to play games, to be respectful… I’ve taught them to read… I can teach! So I use what I have for the full year, and modify it, tweak it, or use it as a rough guide if its not what we thought it would be. So far, its worked… my kids are SUPER smart! hehe

  28. Thank you for the encouragement!! I always dread figuring out what we will use because I put too much pressure on myself. I feel like I am finally getting more relaxed/comfortable with how we homeschool. Your tips help so much!

  29. I embraced rule #5 a couple of years ago. Why make myself and my children suffer? Why some learning may be work to accomplish and master, it shouldn’t be painful for all involved, and making the children learn to hate learning.

  30. Great advice. It’s funny to see the reaction when people ask me which curriculum I use and I tell them none. But seriously, as my kids get older, I do plan on buying a curriculum, and I hope that I find something that isn’t overwhelming.

  31. this is my first year homeschooling, my chosen curriculum just came in the mail the other day, now I am feeling completely overwhelmed and doubting my ability!! Public school is just a block away from my house and up until this year that’s what my children have known. I am feeling all your curriculum tips right now!!! thanks so much for all you do, your advice and encouragement has helped me so much, and I only found you two days ago!! thank you.

    1. Hang in there Wendy! You can do it 🙂 Remember, His burden is easy, he didn’t say it wasn’t a burden- He said He wants to carry it with you, so LET Him. So often we forget that at the end of the day it will be His work through us and not our work that accomplishes His will. It sure takes the pressure off to know He’s got it under control as we follow Him. You can do it! xoxo,heidi

  32. I know this is an older post but I am looking for some guidance here. This is our second year homeschooling. The children went to a private Christian school before we decided to homeschool. Our children at home are newborn, 2, 4, 9 and 11. So 2 in elementary, preK and preschool. I am currently using Abeka (this is the curriculum used by the school they were attending), initially I liked how spelled out it was because I had NO idea what I was doing(still don’t!)and we were moving from Alaska to Wisconsin when we made the switch to homeschool. I wanted something very specific. Now that we are settled and we have spent more time praying over and researching I do not like my curriculum at all. I am NOT saying Abeka is not a good curriculum just doesn’t work well for us. I want more of a family approach so we all learn together. However Abeka is expensive and we are 1/2 way through the year. I don’t even want to start again after the holidays because it just is really overwhelming with 4 different ages/curriculums! I have narrowed down some character training, Bible study things I’m going to incorporate but does anyone have any suggestions on how to make the detailed curriculum work for you for the time being? I am concerned about not having them up to grade level although they are all very bright and we do testing each year to see if there are areas we are behind. Just feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated! Thanks for “reading”!

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