How to Choose a Homeschool Curriculum

Are you homeschooling your child in southeast Michigan? Get insight on the best homeschool programs and what will work best for your family.

If you’ve made the decision to homeschool your child, the next task on your list might be finding the best homeschool programs that work well for your family. Found yourself asking, “What homeschool curriculum should I use?” Luckily, there are myriad programs to pick from – and plenty of resources available to you.

Christina Strickland from Rochester Hills homeschooled her two children. The founder and editor of Modern Homeschool Family says that the choice to homeschool is a personal one. That’s also true of deciding on a curriculum for your child – despite what somebody recommends as a top program.

“I remember when I was looking for a math curriculum for my daughter,” Strickland says. Everybody recommended a certain curriculum that they boasted as being great, and though the Stricklands hated it, they pushed forward based on the suggestion. “Two years we wasted on this math curriculum that we both hated, and there was really no learning going on.”

It’s important to keep in mind when beginning your search. A top homeschool curriculum may be a great fit for some, and not for others.

“Not only do you have to like it, but your child has to like it, too,” Strickland explains.

Finding homeschool curriculums

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Parents searching for solid homeschool curriculums can start by finding information online, which Strickland recommends.

For example, Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit that advocates for homeschooling explains, “There is no such thing as The One, Perfect Curriculum.” On its site in a section titled “What Curriculum Should You Use?”, the group suggests parents understand their child, where the child is at and where they want him to be in the future. They also suggest considering your personal worldviews, as well as those of the curriculum, plus the learning approach you’d like to take in homeschooling.

There are some prepackaged curricula HSLDA lists on its page, such as Abeka, Sonlight and Calvert. Metro Parent also has a list of popular homeschool curriculum options.

Amber Quesenberry, a mom of four in Rochester Hills, uses the Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, a program through Oakland Schools and Calvert Education Services available to southeast Michigan families. She chose it because she felt it covered key subjects the kids will need. Plus, she has flexibility.

“If I already know they know something, we don’t cover it or we don’t go over it,” Quesenberry says.

When faced with how to choose a homeschool curriculum, or how to find curricula from which to choose, homeschool curriculum reviews can be a great help. On the website Homeschooling In Detroit, there are suggestions of some reviewers and review websites to read, such as Cathy Duffy Reviews (she’s the author of 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum) and reviews from homeschool families like The Curriculum Choice. Strickland’s Modern Homeschool Family website has additional review information.

Resources and options

Parents can try to “plug into a community,” and head to park days with other homeschool families to ask around for ideas, Strickland says. Try borrowing curricula from other parents to test them out for a week or so to get a feel for how it works for your family.

“Be creative and keep your costs down,” she notes, since homeschooling can get costly. That’s where libraries can be handy, she adds, since it can sometimes have resources and materials for homeschoolers, like teacher guides. Lesson plans and printable materials can be found online, too, like on Modern Homeschool Family.

To find an affordable homeschool curriculum, get creative and try buying used materials. Find used textbooks on websites like Amazon. The blog Smockity Frocks has a roundup of even more websites families can find used, affordable homeschool curriculum materials, too.

Worried something isn’t working? Change it, Strickland advises. “It’s OK to change curriculum in the middle of the school year if it’s not working for you.” She says she has used “every type of curriculum possible,” with several different approaches. “(We) just enjoyed the journey and that’s really what it is.”

This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.

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