Whether you have been home schooling for a long time or this is just the beginning of your journey, you may have realized that many home school families have a large number of children. I don’t; I only have two sons. At times I wish I had more, but my two sons were a whirlwind of non-stop activity and I really couldn’t see myself chasing more little ones. Call me a whimp, that’s okay; I probably am. With all that said, I only got two shots at trying out all the amazing curriculum that I saw at the home school convention and in the catalogs that I received.
“Where do I begin?” was my first thought and may be yours as well. First of all, decide what philosophy of education best meets what you want to accomplish with your family and best matches your ideals. Not sure of your philosophy? A great resource to help you decide what books and ideas you would like to pursue with your children is a website called Home School Curriculum Advisor and you can read the article entitled, Creating a Home Schooling Philosophy of Education Simply and Easily. Be aware that if this is the first time you are considering what your home education philosophy, it may take more time than you originally thought. It is well worth it though, and will save you countless hours of looking at curriculum and spending hard-earned cash needlessly.
Another component that is worth investigating is what type of learning style best fits your child(ren) and you. There are a variety of ways in which people learn: audio, visual, kinesthetic, or a combination of the aforementioned. Let’s face it, no two people are alike and some curriculum works better than others depending upon each individual. Here are some resources on learning styles to help you determine your scholar’s style: They Way They Learn, by Cynthia Tobias and The Big What Now Book of Learning, by Carol Barnier.
Will you be able to tailor each individual subject to meet each of your children’s needs? Probably not unless you have one student (obviously!), but you can be aware of the type of learners your children are and pay attention to the style of learning that best fits you too since you are teaching. You can love a program that uses workbooks as its mode of teaching and be enthusiastic about it, but if you have a kinesthetic learner who needs to be involved in projects and being able to move, your best laid plans will be hard to implement and will not be all that successful. I have found that unit studies and lap books provide a great balance for those who need hands-on activities and those who excel with workbooks and worksheets.
After you have decided what type of philosophy of education and the types of learners you have in your school, THEN begin to look at curriculum. 🙂 Even within the area of curriculum for a certain type of philosophy you will find different approaches and products. For instance, if you like Unit Studies you have a choice of making your own or using one already prepared. You can choose to do something general as in the history of Ohio or be specific and choose to concentrate just on local history. Be a little bit of detective and a little bit of hound dog. There are a wide variety of choices and products to choose from and if you hear or see something that no one else has tried, don’t be afraid to investigate, dig in, and go down a different path than everyone else if that is what you need to do for your family. I did and I was happy with the choices I made.
I have listed two resources to help you with curriculum choices. Take your time in reading through these.
Choosing a Home Schooling Method: Which One is Right for You? I like how the author has given you a brief overview of a particular philosophy of education and characteristics of the various programs.
Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Home School Curriculum is a great resource book to purchase. She gives you a short inventory of the style of learners too and curriculum that would fit with your scholar’s style.
You have chosen a curriculum that you would like to order? Great! Here are some of my recommendations for home schooling products; they have a wide variety of books and also fun activities to enhance your curriculum.
Catalogs for Home Schooling Curriculum and Products You can request a catalog, but I have links to the websites listed below. Personally, I prefer a paper catalog,
“Why a paper catalog instead of the online version?” you may ask. Here are some of the reasons I like a paper catalog, although I do refer to the online versions too. You can mark in it with notes (if it can be found at the library, or be borrowed, etc.), you can take it anywhere, (even the bathroom while relaxing in the tub),sometimes you don’t always have internet connections (good reading while waiting out a storm in your basement 🙂 ), it is easily navigable-I can turn the pages, sticky note particular pages, etc.,and you can show other enthusiastic home school friends and ask veterans their opinions about products. I also keep catalogs close by my couch so when home school moms come to see me we can look at several curriculum options and products while they are meeting with me.
I just received my Rainbow Resource catalog in the mail and I love pouring over it. Oh Happy Day! There is just something about picking up that big catalog and holding it in my hands that makes me feel happy. (Be honest, many of you feel the same way when looking at home school products!) Beware! If you are new to home schooling, then do not let the size of the catalog deter you. It is easily 6 inches thick, but remember that it would be like putting all the products AND reviews of a small store into print.
Christian Book Distributors is another great resource, especially if you are looking for specific Christian titles.
Sonlight catalog has lists of books that are tried and true. I have used a large majority of the library books (also known as “living books”) they recommend in their programs as they can stand alone without using their particular program if you choose.
Veritas Press A classical education products catalog
Beautiful Feet Books I love the book selections and the literature guides,especially for middle schol students and older.
I hope that this helps you clarify your vision for your family and their education and helps eliminate the stress that you may feel in picking curriculum.