What to Look For in a Homeschool Curriculum
Making the decision to homeschool a child is never an easy one for a parent to make. For some, the decision to homeschool a child is based on the fact that they were homeschooled themselves, or oftentimes the result of a negative experience or disillusionment with the local public or private school curriculum. Whatever the reason, it is imperative that parents take the time to consider the curriculum that is best for the needs of their child. In order to find the program or approach the will best serve the academic needs of their child, parents have to consider everything from the individual learning style of their child to specific topics covered as part of the curriculum,
Choosing the right homeschool curriculum doesn’t require an advanced degree, but it does require careful thought and consideration. Homeschoolers should exercise patience and avoid becoming overwhelmed with the multitude of choices. Parents should consider factors such as learning and teaching styles, grade level, number of students being taught, religious affiliation, topics covered, and cost and overall value, among other things, when selecting a homeschool curriculum.
o Consider the needs of the child – It can be very difficult for parents to separate their own needs from the needs of their child. Remember to keep the child’s needs first when selecting a curriculum. Understand how the child’s likes, dislikes, learning style(s), cognitive levels will affect the curriculum you select.
o What teaching style do you prefer – There is room in homeschooling for the parents too. Since parents will be the one’s doing the teaching and putting the curriculum into effect, it is important to consider the individual teaching style that a parent prefers. Parents should consider the amount of involvement and control that they want to have over their child’s instruction. Does a parent want the program to do the teaching for them, or do they want to be able to exercise more control and have more input into the style of teaching that is used?
o What is the child’s cognitive level – A child’s cognitive levels should also be taken into account when selecting a homeschooling curriculum. If the program selected is too advanced or to easy, it may prove ineffective to a parent’s efforts in educating their child.
o What topics should the curriculum cover – The specific approach that a curriculum program takes is also an important factor for parents to consider. What topics does the program cover and do those topics fit in with a parent’s individual academic philosophy? In addition, parents should consider if a curriculum has a religious skew to it, if it is relevant to the issues of the day, and whether or not the curriculum can be used over time and with more than one student.
o Cost and value – By far the biggest consideration that parents have to make when selecting a homeschooling curriculum is the cost and value of the program. Is the program a simple guide, or is it more extensive. An extensive curriculum may require the purchase of additional materials. Does the program include consumables or can many of the items be reproduced? If the program or curriculum ends up not fitting in with the needs of a child, can it be re-sold?
o Is the curriculum aligned – Parents should take great care to determine if the curriculum they are choosing is aligned with state or government agencies and whether or not is was developed by an accredited agency. This can prove to be very beneficial when a child begins to apply for admission into colleges and universities.