Isn’t summer wonderful? Days are filled with sandboxes, picnics, and bonfires, but if you are like me, despite sunny beaches and pool parties, each year around this time your mind involuntarily starts flickering to the upcoming school year. How will it be organized? What curriculum will I use? Essentially, how am I going to create the best possibly learning environment for my children?
It is easy to get overwhelmed sifting through the seemingly endless options. I constantly have to remind myself of what is important to me. By taking a moment to stipulate the key elements that any suitable curriculum must have will save you time and much hair-pulling. Narrow your eligible choices by specifying the following:
Learning Objectives: Decide how/what you want your student to learn.
- Do you prefer a specific teaching method, such as spiral v.s. mastery approach?
- What materials do you want to use (Traditional textbook, online, living books, amalgamation, etc)?
- How do you want your student interact with the information? Through traditional note-taking, notebooking, lapbooks, hands on/experiments, work sheets, projects, etc. ? And do you want these already incorporated into the curriculum package?
- Have you decided what subject matter you want to cover in the content areas of Science, History, Geography, Social Studies, etc.?
- Is it important to you be inline with state standards/Common Core?
Credibility: Decide where you want your curriculum to come from.
- Does the curriculum have to be researched-based and follow proven scope and sequence?
- Does it have to be developed by a notable company?
- Does it have to have positive feedback/reviews? Do you know someone who has used it and recommends/doesn’t like this curriculum?
Needs and Interest of student: Determine the specific needs of your student/family.
- Does your student need a curriculum with lots of repetition and drill work?
- Does it have to incorporate a specific component, such as kinesthetic, sensory, etc.?
- Do you want to encourage a particular interest such as robotics or zoology?
- Do you need a curriculum that easily adapts to more than one student or grade?
Time: Determine your time requirements.
- How much time do you want to put into prepping and mapping the lesson?
- Do you want to teach the lesson yourself or do you want the lessons taught on DVD or online?
- Do you want one core, multi-subject curriculum with one (or fewer) teacher’s manuals?
Money: Look at your budget.
- How much can you afford to spend?
- What does it cost? Does it fit into your budget?
- Do you need a payment plan option?
Other: Other things to consider.
- Do you have experience with this curriculum? Likes/dislikes?
- Does it have to have any other components to work for your family?
The criteria may look different for each of us. That is the beauty of homeschooling: the ability to individualize our children’s learning experience. I have created a curriculum checklist to help you decide what is important to you in a curriculum and help you compare curricula, so you can choose which one best meets your needs.
Start by downloading Curriculum Checklist. Answer the questions and/or add your own to help narrow your viable curriculum choices. You can easily rule out the curricula that doesn’t meet your requirements, thus saving you time and head aches. Here is an example:
Now that that is out of the way, we can enjoy that subtle summer breeze, mind cleared, confident in our choices.