Parents often see homeschooling as an advantage for their kids and family. Making that decision to go the homeschool route is one thing. But when it comes to choosing a curriculum to use? There’s no simple answer.
“There are thousands” of options when it comes to curriculums, says Tarla Gernert, executive director of Homeschool Connections, a local organization that offers class instruction, field trips and more for homeschool students grades K-12 at six locations in southeast Michigan.
Narrowing the choices
There are various factors to consider before choosing a homeschool curriculum straight from the box. Before becoming overwhelmed with options, Gernert offers a few pointers to help you narrow it down:
- Consider why you’re homeschooling. Is it because the child’s current school isn’t meeting her needs? Perhaps it’s due to special needs, or the family wants to do so for religious reasons. Talking through your views and reasons will help you chose a curriculum right for your child.
- How does your child learn best? This can help you determine the “style” or approach. If sitting in a classroom didn’t work well, perhaps a six- to eight-hour virtual school experience won’t be the best fit. Or, maybe you don’t want to use a curriculum at all and want to try “unschooling” to allow the child to follow more of their interests. Ask yourself: “What is important for my children to learn and how is the best way for them to learn it?” she says.
- Know that there isn’t just one approach. “Some people get trapped in a curriculum,” she says, and feel pressure to complete it. But you may decide to mix and match curriculum sets from different companies based on the subject – or even use a textbook or workbook simply as a resource or guide for an activity or topic. “It works if they don’t feel like they have to do every single page, every single day.”
- Do some reading. You can find more information on how to choose a homeschool curriculum here.
Popular curriculum options
Here are some common curriculum choices for homeschoolers to consider:
A Beka homeschool curriculum. Christian homeschool curriculum covering pre-K to 12th grade, covering a vast range of subjects ranging from Bible study and art to foreign language and phonics.
Alpha Omega Publications curricula. Christian homeschool curriculums including Switched-On Schoolhouse (CD-ROM) for kids grades 3-12, LIFEPAC for grades K-12 (student-paced), Horizons (teacher-led) for PreK-12 and Weaver (unit studies) for grades PreK-12 and Monarch (online) for kids in grades 3-12.
BJU Press’ Bob Jones homeschool curriculum. Looking for a Christian homeschool education? You can find materials here, including textbooks and video lessons that emphasize hands-on learning and critical thinking in subjects like literature, math, spelling, science, handwriting and more. For grades PreK through 12.
Calvert Education curriculum. Parents in search of a non-religious homeschool curriculum will find an option in Calvert homeschool programing. Offers options for grades PreK-12. Individual courses are available for purchase, and you can sign up for the Calvert Academy Online Private School, too. Resources are available for struggling students through the Verticy Learning program.
Classical Conversations homeschool curriculum. This Christian homeschool curriculum is popular in homeschooling right now, Gernert says. Its three focuses are to use a classical model, with an emphasis on Christian worldview and forming a community. Kids are taught facts first, then taught how to “sort and evaluate” them, and next “synthesize their knowledge and apply it” in teen years, the group’s site explains. Those in this community meet with others regularly during the school year. You can find a community near you online.
My Father’s World homeschool curriculum. Also a Christian homeschool curriculum, this one emphasizes discovering during preschool through third grade, investigating in third through eighth grade and declaring in high school years – all based on a Charlotte Mason classical model of education.
Not seeing a great fit? Remember there are many more options available. You can find reviews of various curriculum online, too, on sites like Cathy Duffy Reviews and HomeschoolReviews.com – or even niche sites like SecularHomeschool.com.
And if you’re still having difficulties, it’s a good idea to turn to the local community of homeschooling parents and experts who can talk firsthand observations and opinions.
“We also have people who talk to people about these different options and help them figure out what to do and help answer their questions,” Gernert says of Homeschool Connections.
Browse websites like Homeschooling in Detroit, go to the local library or connect with other parents. “Join some of the homeschool social media communities,” she adds, on Yahoo! Groups and even groups on Facebook.
There are events for homeschoolers and perspective homeschoolers each year that may be helpful, too, including the INCH Conference (Information Network for Christian Homes) running May 18-20, 2017 in Lansing where you can meet vendors and get information on various homeschool curriculum choices. Both include a used homeschool curriculum and book sale.
Ready to get started in homeschooling? Learn more about what it takes to homeschool in Michigan.
Do you know of any other homeschool curriculum choices you’d add to this list? Leave us a comment!
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for 2017.