Let’s be honest… when you purchased a class on homeschooling, did you expect to take this long to get to the curriculum, planning, organization and stuff? All the things we still have left to talk about?!? Probably not, because those are the things we can see— the things we actually THINK OF when we consider homeschooling.
I hope that by now, you understand why we couldn’t jump into these nuts and bolts discussions until you had a solid foundation and focus for what you’re doing. Because that is what will inform the specific decisions you make as you choose curriculum, plan your days, etc.
One of the cool things about the process of choosing curriculum is that as you grow in your knowledge and exposure to different resources, you’ll find that your ideas about curriculum really expands.
Curriculum can take a lot of different forms— and some of you may not be familiar with them. So super quick, let me introduce you to some different options… in no certain order.
Obviously you’ll utilize workbooks and textbooks almost every year for one class or another.
Then there’s unit studies. Unit studies are a themed approach to learning that really allows you and your children to deep dive into topics. They’ll often combine all aspects of academics into one themed unit, and they’re great for sparking curiosity and working together as a family. Unit studies are great if you have something special planned or something is going on around you. For example, we did a unit study on volcanoes before a scheduled family trip to Hawaii… while we were there, we visited an active volcano to see what we learned about in real life. We also studied tornadoes during the spring one year when tornadoes are likely to happen around us. You get the idea.
Closely related to unit studies are lap books. I actually liked them better than unit studies when my kids were younger, because they gave them tangible things to show off. When your child creates a lap book, they’ll be learning much the same way as with a unit study, but they’ll be creating a really cool way of displaying what they’ve learned. We did a lap book about the first Thanksgiving that the kids then took TO our family Thanksgiving and showed everyone their projects while “teaching” them all they learned. We had a great time putting them together, learned a ton, had a break in the norm for us, and had something awesome to share with others. Cool, huh?
We could also talk about literature studies, journaling, and more— but there’s probably no end to the different curriculum types and creative ideas you can employ in your homeschool as you start to mix and match.
But choosing curriculum for a family on mission has to include more than just being enamored with the style or design of it. A lot of thought goes into narrowing down which curriculums to use, and some of it you may not have considered yet. So that brings us to another anchor for you homeschool—>
—> **Always choose curriculum that is in line with your worldview.**
It’s very important for Christian homeschool families to choose a curriculum that is written from a biblical worldview. You probably understand how that’s super important in areas like science, history, Bible, and critical thinking— but did you know that it’s actually LITERATURE classes in college that many young people who decide to walk away from their faith after attending a state university note as putting them over the edge? LITERATURE… would you have thought of that being a danger zone class?
So many subjects are now being taught editorially rather than academically, so it is absolutely impossible to keep worldview from coming through. Obviously, anything that touches on beginnings from a secular worldview would neglect to note that it was the God of the Bible Who created all things as we see in Genesis 1. So, do you want to have your children learning things in their textbooks or resources that you have to “unteach” in conversation? Do you want to run the risk of confusing their young hearts and minds?
Now, the Bible does tell us that we need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us, so we don’t want to shield our children from knowing about these other worldview all together— that sets them up to stumble when they encounter them later. As a homeschool parent on mission, though, you are able to teach as fact a biblical worldview while introducing other worldviews with discussion of how they veer from the absolute truths found in God’s Word alone. So many curriculums are filled with agenda points— we all know our public schools are FULL of them- so why would we bring that same thinking into our homes?
We’ve compiled a list of Homeschool Family Favorites — or the best curriculums available as voted by Teach Them Diligently families. A link to that ebook can be found in the resources with this lesson, and it’s a great starting point for looking for solid curriculum each year.
Another thing to think about when choosing curriculum is your goals— and what you’re looking for to constitute success within your family. You know and understand your calling— so how does your choice of curriculum factor into that?
One thing to think about in that light is the amount of time you’ll need to spend in preparation for schooling. For some moms or dads, this part may actually be life-giving- they love to plan and prepare, so that would be the fun part. Generally when we’re doing something that is life-giving, it makes all the other things we’re doing better, right. So, for you, those pieced-together, heavy parental involvement curriculum choices may make you more engaged, offer opportunities for getting your children involved with you, and so on.
For others, curriculum choices that are high maintenance like that may actually be so overwhelming and stressful that you will be in no state of mind to disciple and shepherd your children’s hearts because you’d be consumed with the work involved in homeschooling.
So your goals and your personality really do influence the curriculums you choose. Some curriculums come with teacher’s guides that have word for word instruction guidance— that may be just what the doctor ordered for you. Others may simply make the assumption that you can make it your own.
You’ll also find that the age of your children will likely factor into the curriculum choices you make. Perhaps you’ll take one approach when they’re younger only to find that you need a different approach for your older ones.
Ultimately, you’re making these decisions based on the those anchors of mission and mindset that are keeping your whole homeschool in place, so that’s why we’re just discussing it now.
There are two more cautionary words that I wanted to share with you before we leave this discussion of curriculum choices.
One… don’t hold on to a curriculum that isn’t working. If you’re going for the heart in your homeschool and you make a decision to stick with a curriculum that is driving your child (or you) crazy, you’re probably weakening your platform with that child. Over what? A small financial investment? Is it worth it? If you run into a curriculum, like the math I told you was making Payton cry, stop using it, sell or give it away if you want… or save it for another child— and find something new that will work.
Maybe you’re not using a curriculum that is driving your child crazy, but maybe it’s just not right for your family at this stage of your life. You don’t have time to invest in what’s called for with it because of other circumstances that have come your way— a new baby, medical issues, fostering, or something like that. You may find that as your life changes, so do your curriculum needs and something that you have always loved simply becomes difficult for that season. You can step back from it or use it differently for that time to better accommodate your family if you need to.
One of the freedoms of homeschooling is that we can make those adjustments whenever we feel the need to… although, generally you’ll know pretty quickly if something is a bad fit for your family at any given time.
The second caution I have to give here is about the free public school at home options that are available. If you “take advantage” of those programs because you think it’s good stewardship of your resources or time or whatever, I remind you of everything we’ve talked about in choosing curriculum to this point. Your children will still be receiving teaching that is contrary to God’s Word, you will not be seizing control of the decisions related to their education in the same way, thus you’ll be limiting all those amazing natural conversations that overflow from learning together, and you’ll likely be setting them up for a discontent experience because they kinda have their toe in two different pools, so to speak— homeschool and public school.
If financial considerations are what would drive you to make that decision, I would encourage you to ask yourself “at what cost” are you willing to save that money— and is there another way to achieve the goals God has given your family without opening the door to what most Christian homeschoolers reasonably believe is a trojan horse of allowing public education back into your home.
So, pray about your curriculum choices in light of your calling. Check out the resources included with this lesson to help you narrow down the choices available for you— and plan to join us at a Teach Them Diligently event, so you can take a look at many of the best curriculums available for yourself. I have almost always given my children a say in what curriculum we used— we’d look it up online, explore the exhibit hall together, and so forth. Giving them a voice helps them take ownership in their education and makes them much more excited to dive into the books they helped pick out.
Next time, we’ll talk about planning… one of my favorite things to talk about! 🙂 See you there!
Choosing your curriculum is a very important decision, and you need to consider all the things we’ve talked about to this point– the teaching and learning styles within your family, your worldview, your current situation, and more.