Homeschool Planning - How do you Choose Curriculum

One of the most exciting yet complicated parts of homeschooling is that there are so many wonderful curriculum choices and learning styles available to us.  It is wonderful because we are able to completely tailor a child’s education based on specific homeschooling philosophies and learning styles.  The hard part is that there are seemingly endless ways to teach a child, and finding the right curriculum can be difficult.

If you came here looking for a complete curriculum list that will work perfectly for your child, you will not find that here.  In fact, I am not going to be sharing my homeschool curriculum choices in this post at all!  Instead, I want to talk about my process for deciding on an educational philosophy and learning processes for my kids.

Homeschool Planning - How do you Choose Curriculum

When I decided to start homeschooling, way back when my oldest was the ripe old age of 20 months, I decided on a literature based curriculum.  The reasoning was very simple, I love reading, and my daughter loved listening to stories.  It seemed like a very gentle and easy way to introduce schooling to my child – and at that point I had exhausted myself on fairy tales…

Because we started so early with reading aloud to my children, and reading for very long periods of time, I essentially trained my kids to listen to long stories at a very young age.  Now, that does not mean that everyone will love to sit and read/listen to stories for hours on end – but that is the genius of homeschooling, your family doesn’t have to do that, you can choose something different.

As we have added more kids to the mix, and as they get older, we tend to have to adjust everything every year; three kids at three completely different levels can make a literature based curriculum difficult, however, I know that my kids learn really well when they listen to and read good books, so I want to continue that. 

I cannot give you a rundown on all the different types of homeschool philosophies, but I can direct you to a resource that has helped me immensely as I have grown in our homeschool journey – simplehomeschool.net.  There are so many passionate people who blog about homeschooling, and about their way of homeschooling, I could never do all the philosophies justice.

I can let you know that we fall into a very eclectic mix of homeschool philosophies.  I find value in some “school at home,” – math for example – but we tend to lean heavily on literature based and interest led homeschooling philosophies the most. 

When most people hear interest led, I think they actually hear “no oversight,” however that is far from the case.  Figuring out what your child’s interests are, fleshing them out, and then searching out experiences and curriculum to help that interest grow and develop is no easy task.

For quite some time I was incredibly focused on interest led learning, but I was directing most of the interests – which works pretty well when your kids are very little, but not so much when they become their own person.

Learning to choose the right curriculum to foster a love of learning in a specific interest is complicated and takes trial and error.

That was hard for me to swallow.  When I meticulously research curriculum or books or projects for my kids, and then they fall flat, it can feel like failure, but it isn’t.  Instead I have decided to look at it as a learning experience for myself.

Realizing that it is smarter to just drop a certain piece from our homeschool has caused the clouds to be lifted.

If I keep pushing the kids to get through something that they do not like, it pushes them away from the love of learning that I am hoping to foster.

Now, that is not to say that we never have hard days.  There are always hard days.  And just because we have a hard day does not mean that we should completely drop something off the schedule, but if those hard days become weeks and weeks of strife, then it is time to re-evaluate.

Homeschool Planning - How do you Choose Curriculum

My kids love to read, and I find them free reading a lot of the day in their rooms, with books they have pulled off of our shelves.  They like to read on their own schedule, and of their own choosing.  When I assign specific chapters in specific books, I usually find resistance from my oldest – she would rather read a different book.  But, 9 times out of 10, when she finally starts the book, she enjoys it and will often read beyond her allotted chapters.

Choosing the *right* curriculum

As I have said above, there are so many different ways to teach a child the same material.  Once you know what kind of learning style your child has – do they like more projects, hands-on learning, are they content to listen to books and stories on end, do they prefer a more visual approach and can learn a lot from watching a documentary? – you can look at your objectives for the year and start narrowing down curriculum choices.

I tend to start with my oldest when choosing curriculum.  She is 9, she has been homeschooling the longest, and the information that we are studying is new to all of us, not just to her.  Every year of homeschooling my oldest is like my first year of teaching all over again – second guessing everything and wanting to make sure I cover all of my bases.  You would think at this point that I would be a rock star at curriculum choices, since I have been doing it so long, but as I said before, it is all trial and error.  A little less error since I know what really motivates her, and what she struggles with, but still trial and error.

I know that she loves to write long stories, but is not at the stage of easily self-editing while writing made me realize a writing program that allows for longer projects, but is in partnership with me, will be a perfect fit for her this year.

Because we use a literature based approach for a large portion of our subjects, when it comes to curriculum planning for my middle guy it is a little different.  I have to think back to when I used the same books for Emma and remember whether he was interested enough to sit and listen, or if it was a book he didn’t really pay attention to.  There are a few favorites every year that we tend to read over and over, and I know that I do not need to include those in our regular schedule, since we have read them before.  There may be pieces of the books that we will cover again, but I tend to look for more read alouds at the library for Jack, so that we can listen to something a little different.  As a boy, he has completely different expectations about characters in the books we read than Emma who loves a female protagonist.

I have found that looking at other bloggers curriculum choices is incredibly helpful, and have found some wonderful options while reading blog posts.  I would definitely search out bloggers in your particular homeschooling philosophy – just google *philosophy* homeschooling bloggers.  And don’t be afraid to make a mistake!  We are not perfect, and it is OK to drop something and decide on something new at any point during the year. 

Remember your goals for homeschooling to begin with.


What is your favorite subject?  Which learning philosophy do you most connect to?

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