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If homeschooling was needed before, it just became a lot more necessary now that we are in the middle of a global pandemic during which children cannot go to school like they used to. If you have not homeschooled your kids before, everything can be a little overwhelming, but then again, we have to adapt to a lot more like working from home and holding virtual meetings.
When it comes to the best homeschool curriculum for your kid(s) there are a generally three aspects that you have to consider:
- The curriculum
- Your kid’s needs
- Your needs as the parent
All these facets of a homeschooling program have to come together to make the best one for your child’s educational needs. In this guide, we will be exploring these aspects with you to help you with all the information you need to choose the best functional curriculum you can find for your little one. Let’s get started.
Considerations for the Best Homeschool Curriculum
As I have already stated, you have to look at a homeschool curriculum from three dimensions. Let’s start with the child.
What Makes a Homeschooling Program Great for Your Kid?
Different kids have different learning needs. When you are looking for a curriculum, you have to have your child’s learning needs in mind and choose a curriculum depending on which one meets those needs best. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
Your Child’s Learning Style
When it comes to getting the most suitable homeschooling curriculum for your child, we would say this is the most important factor to consider if you are going to nail it from the word go.
Different kids learn differently, and you need to pay attention to your kid to know how best they learn. Some will learn best in an interactive environment, while some kids are lone wolves.
Some kids get bored easily, and holding their attention for the whole lesson might be an issue. For such a child, a multisensory learning curriculum may be the best approach to keep them interested throughout the learning session.
If your child has a learning disability like ADHD, you can find a program that is specifically suited for them as well.
Whatever, your child’s learning style is, you can find a curriculum that best suits their style.
What Level of Learning is Your Child at?
This is also a fundamental factor to keep in mind when you are determining the curriculum. Unlike public schools where everything is systematically defined and groups of students take a whole academic year to move to the next predefined level, homeschooling has no defined levels per se. You can homeschool your child at their pace. They could either be ahead of their peers in the public school system or fall behind, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling your child.
When you get a program, you need to make sure it’s the right fit for your kid before you decide to toss your child into it. One of the best ways to do this is to have your child take a placement test to determine whether it’s the right fit for them.
Some programs will allow you a free trial, and this helps greatly in determining the right fit before you buy the program. If you can get a program like this, it will be best.
Your Child’s Learning Abilities
Different children have different learning abilities. One child might like a certain subject while another may not. If your child does not like math, for instance, you have to get a program that makes learning math fun and a bit slow-paced. This way, your child does not end up hating the subject just because you got the curriculum wrong.
What Makes a Homeschooling Curriculum Great for You?
The other party in a homeschooling program is you as the parent. While your child’s needs come first when you are looking for a homeschooling curriculum, you also need to keep your needs in mind. Here are important factors to consider.
How much time you have to help your child with learning is one of the things that will heavily influence your choice of a homeschooling curriculum. Some programs are very teacher-intensive, and you might need to be present in every learning session. Other curricula are student-led, and instead, the student has more control over when they learn. They then get to organize their schedule.
If you don’t have a lot of time to teach your child, then make sure you get a curriculum that does not rely heavily on your guidance. However, one that allows you to monitor things without being physically present during a learning session is ideal in this case.
If your child does well on their own, you might want to get them a program that gives them more autonomy.
In homeschooling, generally you are the instructor. If you choose to teach a certain subject, you should be qualified to deliver it.
Some parents feel intimidated by some subjects. If you are not confident that you can teach a certain subject, you don’t have to teach it as there are some options you can utilize.
The first one is getting your child a private tutor for the subject you cannot handle. This can be very expensive but the alternative is letting your child fall behind. With some curricula, however, you are allowed to outsource some subjects to professional teachers.
When you decide to homeschool, the number of kids you will be teaching at home is another thing you ought to keep in mind. If you have, say, three kids, you might want a curriculum with a decentralized system where every kid studies individually, and you can monitor their progress from one place.
Most programs will have a parent’s profile, and this allows you to evaluate the lessons afterward and gauge where your child struggled with a certain subject. Some go as far as allowing you to erase a certain lesson if your child struggled a lot so that they can retake the lesson.
Think About why You are Homeschooling
Establishing why before you get a program will help you better meet your curriculum objective.
At this time, for instance, when most kids around the world are in virtual schooling due to the pandemic, you might decide to homeschool your child because you realize that virtual schooling is too fast-paced for them. You might also decide to homeschool your child because you want to add something missing from the conventional schooling system.
This way, you can easily evaluate a curriculum and decide whether you get what you are looking for.
Can You Design the Curriculum for Your Kid?
Some programs will give you the option of either designing the curriculum for your learner or ordering something ready. Mostly, designing a curriculum will be cheaper for you, but on the other hand, it’s a lot of work.
On the other hand, if you decide to get a pre-designed curriculum, you will have to pay more. It’s, however, very convenient for parents who don’t want to go through the hassle of putting everything together.
What Makes a Homeschooling Program Great?
This is the third aspect of a homeschooling program you should look at. Different programs are designed differently. Depending on your preference, here are things to look for.
Is it the Right Fit for Your Child?
As I already explained, making sure that the curriculum you choose for your kid is a good fit is very important. You don’t want to spend money on something you will end up throwing out in a few weeks when you realize it’s not suited to your kids.
To avoid this, choose a program that allows your kid to take a placement test before you get it. Some will have a free trial period too after which you can decide not to get the program if it’s not the right fit.
What’s the Curriculum’s Approach to Education?
This is another crucial factor to consider before getting a program. Generally, there is a homeschooling program that follows the “textbook approach” and the new school of homeschooling curricula following the living, or electronic, textbook approach.
Depending on how you want your kid to approach their education, you can get a curriculum that suits your philosophy.
What’s the Content Offered by the Curriculum?
You may not be comfortable with some content included in public school curriculum, like classic literature books with a lot of profanity. If that’s the case, you can look for a curriculum that does not mandate such books. Just because your child’s peers in public high school are reading these books does not mean that your kid has to. That’s the whole point of homeschooling.
Do You Want Your Child to Specialize in Their Interest Areas?
If you went to a public school, then you will agree there is a lot you learned that you don’t apply in your day to day life or that you never used in college. When you decide to homeschool your child, you can help them pursue their interests from very early on in their lives.
If that’s something that interests you then you can choose an interest-based system for your children. We would recommend this if your child shows some clear talent in a particular discipline. An interest-based curriculum is skewed which may be beneficial for your child.
Other Crucial Factors to Consider
Some curriculums will allow you to erase a certain lesson so that your child can retake it. This comes in handy if you review a certain lesson and realize your child did not quite grasp the subject. This is especially important because, in most curricula, future lessons are built on the lessons that have already been taught.
Look at how a certain curriculum organizes its lessons. Ideally, you want a curriculum where everything is organized linearly such that lessons build on each other. If things are not well organized, then the chaos may confuse your child, or you.
The whole point of homeschooling your children is the flexibility that kids going through the traditional school system don’t get. When you are picking a curriculum, make sure you get one that allows your learner some reasonable amount of flexibility.
Getting an expensive curriculum does not guarantee quality education. That said, you need to ensure you get the best homeschool curriculum within your budget. Do not, however, compromise your child’s education for a cheap program unless you can supplement the learning with additional materials or classes.
The first thing you should do before you even decide to homeschool your kids is understand your local (and state) government’s requirements for homeschooling in your area.
In some states, for instance, they will mandate that you submit test results at certain periods to ensure that learning standards are being met. Failure to meet these standards could result in a wide variety of consequences, including losing your license or ability to homeschool your children. This is why you should enquire about government regulation well before time.
The Curriculum Basis
If you want your kids’ curriculum to be religion-based or secular, there are plenty of options available. So long as the curriculum is meeting state standards, there are few restrictions otherwise.
Homeschooling may sound overwhelming to you as a parent, especially if you went to a conventional school. Choosing a homeschooling curriculum is even more cumbersome because you want to give your child the best education you can. Getting the curriculum right however, will make your job much easier.
We hope this article helped guide you in making the right decision.