It’s that time of year again, the school year is wrapping up or is already done, and you are starting to look ahead to the next school year. It’s time to start buying homeschool curriculum for next year.
Since you probably don’t have an unlimited budget for buying homeschool curriculum, you definitely want to find a good fit and a good deal on it. But what all should you consider before buying it?
Most of us have bought curriculum that seemed perfect, but then it flopped. (I know I have.) That’s not something we’d like to repeat. Use the tips and questions below to make a plan before buying anything. They should help you spend your money on curriculum that will (likely) be a good match for your children.
What is your total budget for homeschool curriculum for the year? After figuring that out, which curriculum subjects will you need to buy for each child? Finally, figure out an estimate of how much you can spend on each one of those subjects.
Now you have a starting point. When you look at curriculum you will know how much you are wanting to spend. Watch for sales and discounts, they often happen early spring.
Do you know your child’s learning style? That’s very important to consider before buying homeschool curriculum. If the curriculum matches their learning style it is much more likely to work for them.
This article goes into more detail about learning styles if you aren’t sure of your child’s learning style. It’s wise to only invest in curriculum that matches your child’s learning style, at least in some way. Most companies that sell homeschool curriculum offer free samples on their website so you can get a really good look at it before you buy.
Sometimes after reading the description of a curriculum it sounds perfect, but when you actually see the samples of it, it turns out to be different than what you were expecting and may not be quite so perfect after all. So, be sure to check out any samples that are offered.
How Much Time Will It Take?
Often in our minds, we have more time than we actually will have in our day to day lives. It may be helpful to write down a tentative plan for the next year–include homeschooling, activities, housework, volunteering, etc.– to get a good idea of how much time you will actually have for school each day.
Next, figure out realistically how much time you will have to dedicate to helping each child (be sure to include any “littles” in this because even though you won’t be formally educating them, they will definitely need your time and attention). This information will help you decide how teacher intensive you want the curriculum you choose to be.
If you choose a curriculum that relies heavily on teacher involvement for each child and each subject, you need to ask yourself if that is realistic or not with your schedule. Or what adjustments you will need to make in order to be able to do that. Often we can find a subject or two that we can either combine children to cover, or a self directed curriculum that they can complete more independently.
Remember, there is no right or wrong curriculum. No best or worst. It is really just all about finding the best match for your family. If you want to use a very teacher intensive curriculum for each child (and it works for you)–go for it! If you want to use a very child independent curriculum (and it works for you)–go for that!
Let go of any guilt about choosing a certain type of curriculum or comparing your family to other homeschool families. Focus on the best match for your family and move forward with confidence!
Does It Fit Into Your Plans?
Do you have a long term homeschool curriculum plan? As your child moves closer to their high school years you may consider putting together a long term plan to make sure to cover all you need and want to before their final four years.
But even if you are not rapidly approaching those high school years a plan may be helpful. You could outline what time periods in history you’d like to cover each year (so you can make sure to hit them all). Or, do the same thing with science–what topics do you want to cover? Then you can map out a general overview of each year so you have a yearly focus that will cover everything you want and need to over their elementary/jr. high years.
Looking ahead to next year, does the curriculum you are thinking about fit into those long term plans?
Do Some Research
Besides checking out the online samples that most curriculum publishers offer, read online reviews and homeschool forums to find out more about a certain curriculum. They can even be helpful when you don’t have a particular curriculum in mind but want to know what other people have tried and what has worked for them. For example, try a search for “best 6th grade homeschool science curriculum” and it should pull up different curriculum options for you to research.
Here are some good places to check for reviews and information (there are many more than just these though!):
Cathy Duffy is a well know curriculum research specialist and her reviews are very helpful and in depth.
This website has reviews from other homeschool moms just like you.
This is a very active forum where you can find information and opinions on almost any curriculum out there.
A Specific Homeschool Curriculum Publisher’s Forum
If you are looking at a specific homeschool curriculum publisher, be sure to check and see if they have an active forum (or Facebook group) for their company. If so, that can be a great place to get more information about their curriculum from other homeschool moms like you, and maybe even from the curriculum’s author.
Is This Something You Want/Need To Study?
This one is an important question to consider. It seems like each year there is a new curriculum I happen upon that draws my attention and looks wonderful. Does that happen to you?
Well, maybe it is wonderful, but often it isn’t something I had planned on including in our homeschool day. And if that is the case and I buy it anyway and try to fit it in, one of two things usually happens, 1) I feel extra stressed trying to fit it in, or 2) it doesn’t get done.
Even the most wonderful curriculum out there isn’t a good deal if it won’t get done or will make you stressed trying to fit it in. If it is something you want to try in the future but maybe it just isn’t a good fit for next year, make note of it somewhere on your long term plan and look into it again the following year.
Or sometimes there is a certain topic or curriculum it seems like “all” the other homeschooling families around you are using. But maybe you don’t need to cover that or even want to cover that. If it isn’t something required by your state and it doesn’t fit into your plans, don’t feel the need to try to squeeze it in just because it looks like all of the other homeschool families are using it.
All of these tips and questions make a guide of sorts for buying homeschool curriculum.
Make a homeschool curriculum budget. Consider your child’s learning style. Think realistically about how much time it will take to actually work on it (the chosen curriculum) each day–will that fit into your daily schedule? Check out online reviews and forums. Ask yourself if it is something you want or need to study. After considering all of these things you can confidently shop for curriculum and buy the one that is best fit for your family right now.