Whether you look forward to curriculum shopping with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning or you dread the decision-making process year after year, reflect on these simple questions to take the stress out of your curriculum selection.
Can you afford it?
Expensive doesn’t always equal better. Straining your budget to purchase the latest curriculum fad adds unnecessary stress to your family life. No matter how amazing the program is it’s not worth it if brings marital discord or extra financial pressure to your home life.
If you really do believe a certain expensive program is what your child needs, look into sharing and splitting the cost with another homeschool family or search out used curriculum options through a local homeschool group or online.
Does the program fit your child’s learning style?
Children learn in different ways. Just because a curriculum worked like a charm for your firstborn doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for subsequent children.
Does your child prefer to take in information orally? Look for a program with audio material, or a curriculum that you can easily adapt by reading information aloud to him and having him recite his answers back.
Is your child a kinesthetic learner who needs a lot of movement and hands-on activity? Search for a program that won’t keep her tied to a desk.
Does your child learn best through reading and writing? A simple workbook format may work great for this child.
Taking the time to understand how your child learns best may save you hours of frustration and hundreds of dollars misspent on poor curriculum choices.
Does the program fit your teaching style?
If the content doesn’t inspire you, chances are it won’t appeal to your kids either. Look for materials that pique your interest and get you excited about a topic. You definitely don’t want to end up with a program that you as the instructor are going to dread pulling out day after day.
I learned this the hard way. The year I chose a project-intensive history program for my elementary school students, I found at the end of the year we had only picked it up a handful of times. I should have known better!
Making salt dough maps and mummifying chicken carcasses appeals to me not at all. I would rather spend my Saturday morning at the dentist getting a cavity drilled than cruising the crafts store to get the necessary supplies for a model of the Roman Coliseum or a “manuscript” of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The following year we switched to a literature-based history curriculum that capitalized on my love of reading aloud and my children’s fondness for being read to. We found ourselves reaching for our history materials much more frequently.
To find the sweet spot where your child’s learning style and your teaching style overlap, try making a Venn diagram with your child’s preferred ways to take in information on the left and your preferred ways of conveying information on the right. Ideally there is some common ground in the middle where you’ll find materials that everyone can get behind!
Will it be visually appealing for your student?
Think about the kinds of materials your child is drawn to.
Do they gravitate toward bright colors? In that case, page after page of boring black and white text that doesn’t look like it’s been updated since before you were born may not be the best choice.
On the other hand, perhaps your child finds a busy page filled with varying fonts, colors and images distracting and would focus better with a more straightforward program.
A program with an attractive design that draws you in and invites your child to learn more is worth its weight in gold!