This is a guest blog post. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SCAIHS or any employee thereof. SCAIHS is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest authors.
After pondering my next step into the world of homeschool blogging, I decided to tiptoe into the world of curriculum choices. I do so with trepidation because it is a world fraught with a wide range of opinions about which people feel and believe very strongly. Plus, although I still homeschool a special needs child, it has been awhile since I seriously considered and made any curriculum changes. Nevertheless, after 27 years of homeschooling surely I can say something.
Homeschoolers today can be grateful as their curriculum options are abundant. Just go to any homeschool convention and watch new homeschool moms walking around in a state of dazed bewilderment. In fact, I advise the typical (I know some are atypical) new homeschool mom to wait a year or two before attending a convention so she can avoid being overwhelmed by the lavish feast before her.
My purchase of our very first and only reading curriculum guided my choices through the years even though I didn’t understand this until later. I asked a variety of friends about their programs and consulted the curriculum guides. I compared curriculums and considered my first child’s personality. Last but by no means least, I considered the money in our pocketbook. In fact, the money consideration clinched the decision because a friend was selling one of my options for half the price, and I bought it.
Using the following guidelines, I made few impromptu curriculum purchases and relatively few curriculum changes through the years. Those “few impromptu curriculum purchases” were usually mistakes and a waste of money.
First, wisdom “comes from an abundance of counselors”. I chose my advisors with certain criteria whether they were friends or curriculum guidebooks. I considered the newbies but I really listened to those with a wealth of years of homeschooling experience and children. For example, when it came time to homeschool my first high schooler, I called my friend who had children ahead of mine even though I had not seen her in a few years and was not close to her. I wanted to hear what she had to say. When tempted to make an impromptu change at conventions, I reminded myself to walk away, take a deep breath, remember the purchase did not have to be made that day, and consider wise counsel.
Secondly, I considered the learning styles of my children, but I did not purchase a different curriculum for each one. I desired to be willing to spend money if absolutely necessary, but I also wanted to be a wise steward of our monies. I simply adjusted and adapted the curriculum I had. If one child had a shorter attention span than another, I used a shorter list of words. If one child needed more manipulatives than another, I pulled out the beans and popsicle sticks (later the cuisineaire rods). If one child needed more reinforcement, we slowed down or pulled similar reading books from the library. I never changed my phonics program and I never changed maths (well, I did once, but returned to my old one after two months of the new).
Thirdly, I reviewed the previous year and the current circumstances. After using a pure unit study approach (covering science, Bible, history, and literature) for several years, which my children and I absolutely loved, I had my sixth child. He had multiple birth defects requiring a tracheostomy for a year and a half and a ventilator at home for ten months. Needless to say, I moved from the unit study approach, which required more of my time, especially in the library, to a simpler workbook/textbook approach. Later on, we moved back to a combination of both worlds. Therefore, sometimes life (and the pocketbook) dictates the decisions we have to make, so don’t feel guilty and don’t compare your decisions to the decisions of others. (More on this in a future blog.)
Last (and first and in between), I prayed. I asked God to help me be wise, to control my spur-of-the-moment decision making, and to guide my choices. To sum up all of this in a nutshell, the most important ingredient when considering curriculum is you, the mom. Don’t overly stress yourself about curriculum. Don’t listen to the latest fads out there. Don’t believe you have to have and do everything.
Carlotta Jackson has been homeschooling her children for over 25 years, and still going strong with her youngest. You can read more about Mrs. Jackson in her previous blog posts: