I’m trying to answer some questions I get asked as I get to visit with moms around the country. Last week I answered the question, “How do you get it all done?”
Today, I’ll pull back the curtain on how I choose curriculum for our kids each year. Hopefully, after 17 years of homeschooling, I’ve got a few ideas that will help you avoid some of the ditches I stumbled into!
Little Tip: Whatever you choose needs to be good for both your child and you.
If you don’ t love it, you’ll struggle to teach it.
If you have homeschooled for more than five minutes or done even one internet search in your consideration of homeschooling, you know there is a very long list of curricula out there for you to try. It can be overwhelming. It’s easy to spend too much money in a panic to find just the right program. Here’s the thing: a good homeschool education doesn’t have to be expensive. It shouldn’t break the bank, either.
If you’re just starting your homeschool journey—DON’T PANIC. You don’t need a lot of curriculum. If your kids are very young, you don’t need more than one or two books. We love simple in our home. Our lives are very busy by definition and so when it comes to schooling,
Little Tip: Choose a curriculum that will compliment your lifestyle, not compete with it.
Try not to overthink it.
Are you still curious? Here are a few of my favorite things:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – I’ve used this for years and years and all our children are excellent readers. You don’t need anything but pencil and paper to go with this book. I’d suggest doing the writing assignments that go with each lesson. Don’t spend too much time on any lesson in this book. No more than 30 minutes including writing time.
Bob Books for Early Readers – Bob books are our favorite transition from 100 Easy Lessons. We try and do one booklet each day and write a little, too.
We’ve tried every math program out there. I hesitate to tell you which one we landed on but I do love Teaching Textbooks for grades 7 and up. I also love a little handheld math quizzer called “Flash Master.” It does all the basic math facts in several different formats. We’ve had ours for years and it was well worth the investment.
Life of Fred has literally made our eight-year-old enjoy math. ‘nuf said.
3-8th grade: I love the Apologia Young Explorer series. You can use them in so many ways and they read like a great story. And yes, I’ve used them with several of our kids through the 8th grade. We simply give more challenging assignments as they get older.
*note: I have a friend who has homeschooled her kids forever w/out picking up a formal science book until they were in high school. Of her three kids, one is a doctor, one an attorney and one a teacher. They did just fine.
High school writing
I’m a fan of IEW – Institute in Excellence for Writing. Check it out. I don’t do this for our younger kids because they love to write already and I do too—but as they get into high school, we do IEW and love it. (The link is to the author’s page.)
For grades 3 and up, you can’t beat YWAM Christian Heroes Series. They are my favorite tool for teaching geography, history and social studies. One six dollar book not only gives your kids a window into another culture, but teaches them about people who followed God in the most incredible ways. I love them!
Five in a Row takes wonderful children’s literature and makes a unit study out of it. It’s brilliantly written, inexpensive and easy to use for preschoolers through about 6th grade. If you love learning with your children while you snuggle up on the couch, this is for you!
Check these resources out too:
Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola is a great reminder of what education can look like. She also wrote A Charlotte Mason Companion which I loved.
I suppose I could go on and on about this, so if you have a specific question please let me know. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.
At the end of the day and regardless of what curricula you land on, keep in mind that the curriculum is there to help you, not to take over for you. You are the teacher—and you can do it!
No curriculum can be a substitute for God’s gentle leadership in your homeschool.
So before you spend hundreds of dollars thinking you have found the miracle curriculum that will make homeschooling simple, remember the promise God makes in Matthew 11:28 –
My yoke is easy and My 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. ♥
You can do this, busy mom! Enjoy your kids!