Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Homeschool Planning - Choosing Curriculum

When you begin to think about homeschool curriculum it can be a daunting task, especially when you are first starting out.

This will be our first year reporting to the state for homeschooling, and for me that has become a little nerve-racking.

How do I know that what I am teaching is being absorbed?  How do I make the decision on what should be taught, and what can be skipped over.  How do I make sure that we are fitting it all in?

These are questions that I am constantly asking myself.

For the past several years we have bought the boxed curriculum from Sonlight.  We absolutely love it.  I love all the great books that come with the cores, and I love that there are teacher’s plans included.  Who wouldn’t like to just open up lesson plans and start teaching? 

Actually me, I am not so good at following the included lesson plans.

This year I knew I would be taking a different approach to our homeschooling.  First of all, we have the portfolios that we need to think about.  But, then there is also the fact that we school all year, so the included lesson plans don’t quite work for us – I am constantly modifying the first few weeks we start a new core, and then I throw the plans completely out the window. 

The last bit that I needed to think about was whether or not Emma was ready for the next core.  She is on the young end of the cores every year, in fact she has been a year earlier than what is recommended.  I know that she can handle the content that we have done, and she has excelled at it, but moving into Core D at seven wasn’t going to work.

So what do you do when you have a bit of a gap year?  You make it up for yourself!

The first place I started was the Sonlight catalog.  Even though I knew that a lot of Core D would not work for her this year, I knew that I wanted to start out with early American History.  I love that Sonlight focuses on history, and then builds around whatever part of history the child will be studying.

The book lists that Sonlight has available are amazing.  I was able to figure out which books would be appropriate for her, as well as what would be way over her head, or not really applicable to what we will be doing this year.

I have to point out that there are some amazing resources as far as homeschool curriculum.

If you are looking for book lists, I would suggest checking out Sonlight of course, but also Ambleside Online has entire curriculum lists and plans available for free.  Another great resource is CBD.  You can find just about any kind of homeschool curriculum on that website.  I also love the Simple Homeschool blog.

I think that when you are making up your own path, it can be confusing, and scary!  What if I miss something? 

It took a lot of thought and prayer in order for me to come to some decisions on homeschool curriculum this year.  And that is my biggest piece of advice.  Pray.  Make lists.  Think about what you want your children to know at the end of the year.  It is an incredible undertaking, and I think that is why I am so happy with having resources like Sonlight available.  I know that they have gone through a lot of research already, and because I have used them in the past I can trust a lot of what they say regarding good quality books.

If you are struggling with finding things like math and language arts programs, you can find assessments and samples of most of the major curriculum choices.  Download samples, and look at them all to figure out what might work best for your child.

Remember, you know your child best.  If the child is a little older, ask them for help.  What would they like to study, how do they feel like they learn information best.  Is it through reading?  Is it through projects?  Is it through video?  There are so many different options available to us now, whether we are homeschooling, using public school resources, have our child in private school, or something else entirely.

Another place that I look every year when evaluating the kids’ needs for school is our local public school.

We are lucky that the public school puts out what the kids will be learning throughout the year.  I am able to go online and download all of that information, so I know the scope and sequence they are using to teach.  I might not have all the information that they are using, but at least I know about what Emma’s public school grade will be learning.

That isn’t to say that I use the public school curriculum choices, or even follow their scope of learning for the year.  But, I do like to know that we have touched on things that the kids of the same age are learning in the community. 

I think that I have come to some decisions with regard to what we will be doing next year, which is a good thing since we school year round, and are wrapping up the past year now!

I have a lot of book orders to place, and some new math books to buy, but I am excited about the new year!  Now to finish up the old year so we can keep going!

How do you choose curriculum for your homeschool?  Do you look to the public school resources, get a boxed curriculum, or make up your own?


  1. Nice Post. Simply Charlotte Mason also has an online list for free to peruse. On another note - Do I spy an Erin Condren planner in your photo? :) I have never purchased one but they sure look beautiful. I haven't spotted any out in the "wild" around here. From another West MI Homeschooler.

    1. I forgot about Simply Charlotte Mason, thanks for mentioning it!

      Yes, it is an Erin Condren - it is the teacher planner. Next year will be my first year using it, and I think it will be relatively easy to adjust it to my needs as a homeschooler. I'm hoping to get a post up about it soon!

  2. Great post! This will be our first year officially homeschooling and curriculum choice for me was hard! I too will be using and Erin Condren teacher planner for the first time. I can't wait to see how you set yours up!


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