Like so many others in 2020 I was faced with a new endeavor: selecting the curriculum that worked for my kids. This was not a task I ever thought I'd have to conquer. My oldest daughter was in a fabulous Montessori school that I will never stop gushing over. My youngest was set to join her sister as soon as the Spring semester started. Then COVID hit and being a high risk family we pulled both girls out of daycare and like so many other families made the decision to homeschool.
Navigating these new waters is exhausting and terrifying because you literally have your child's learning journey in your hands, no pressure right? I dove into blogs, reached out in my mom's groups, found homeschool support groups on Facebook, downloaded sample after sample, and made a whole lot of impulse purchases (much to my wallet's dismay).
Looking back now on the experience, the fear-induced purchases, and how teaching has been going, I wanted to share a few tips in the hopes that it helps you tackle this journey.
Take time to determine how your child learns best & how you teach best
This is an important first step that I feel so many of us overlook because when we start seeking recommendations or researching we, as parents, try to look for material that will fit some our preconceived notions of how our child should learn and not how they actually learn. It also helps for us to take some time and reflect how we teach. Or if we need a program or curriculum that will offer us more support or guidance. I knew that I wanted something that would give me a lot of flexibility but would also provide step by step instructions in case I was having an off day and needed direction.
Don't be afraid to ask for samples
Curriculum creators want to ensure that you and your child benefit from their work. Many already offer samples of what a typical day or week will look like. Others offer book lists so that you can delve into what you'll be reading or utilizing. This is another great way to determine if the curriculum is for you. I recommend downloading and carefully reviewing everything that they offer and don't be afraid to look at samples that are above our child's current grade level. If there is no sample offered don't be afraid to reach out and ask.
Another tip: ask if the purchase of their curriculum includes any future editions. This is more typical with electronic curriculums where you download the content and print it on your own.
Join homeschool support groups in your area
I had great success with finding support groups on Facebook. I understand that Facebook may not be everyone's cup of tea so you could try searching on Twitter and Instagram for bloggers or influencers and try connecting with followers in your area.
It is so great to speak to experienced and novice homeschooling parents alike because there's such a variety in their journey, preferences, and recommendations. Don't be afraid to reach out there are plenty of people in your position who want to help and gain insight on your perspective.
It'll be beneficial to have this group in your back pocket once we're able to meet up in person (thanks COVID). I've met many mamas (and papas) who have kiddos around the same ages as mine who I'll be happy to meet for playgroups or do some group learning with.
Ask others what's worked best for them
Remember those experienced homeschooling parents you've made friends with? Ask them what resources they used. Pester them with questions about what the curriculum offered their kids, if it was more play oriented or focused on workbooks. Did their kids enjoy the material? Were the books affordable, fun, in line with their expectations, or available at the library? Were the workbooks practical, were they printed, or what was the cost to get them printed?
It's ok to pull lessons from multiple sources
As I mentioned above I went on a crazy curriculum purchase. Those mid year sales are legit! As I poured through different curriculums I realized that I liked the books and lessons used in one but preferred the math lessons from another. The math lessons the other curriculum had offered more structure. I also wanted to ensure that I was teaching my girls their grandfather's native tongue (Spanish) and that was an entirely different curriculum with it's own book suggestions, art activities, math activities, and poetry.
Rather than limit myself to only one or two curriculums I ended up merging most of the ones I purchased together and pulled activities, lessons, and books from each. It does require some juggling and the way that I keep myself organized is by jotting down what we're going to do from each curriculum on a dry erase board for that week so I can quickly reference the information.
Don't put limits on your search
Some quick background, we're not a religious family. We respect faiths, I would call myself Catholic if I really needed to give an answer as that is how I was raised. My husband and I are going to teach our daughters about different faiths and allow them to choose the one which resonates with them when they get older. That being said I do have family members and friends who are religious and utilize curriculums that incorporate their faith in daily lessons.
One day I commented on one such friend's post about how her daughter loves doing math daily. I let this friend know that I was hesitant about teaching my own daughter math because it was never one of my strengths. She suggested the math curriculum that she utilize and I hesitated looking it up. Again, we're not religious and not utilizing any faith based curriculum at the moment but if I had limited myself to this thinking I wouldn't have discovered the amazing curriculum that I feel will greatly help me in teaching my daughter a subject she seems to thrive in.
This has helped me realize that even if some curriculums mention that they contain suggestions for Bible verses or reference something faith based I can still incorporate the basic concept of each lesson without delving into sections I don't agree with or don't want to teach.
I hope these tips help you on your journey happy learning and growing!