A Step By Step Guide to Choosing Your Homeschool Curricula Without Losing Your Mind

I have a friend who was homeschooled as she was growing up. I'l probably reveal my age when I say she was homeschooled in the days when it was something that very few people did. She remembers having to stay inside all during the day because if they were seen outside during school hours, someone might report them for truancy.

Choosing homeschool curricula
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Back in those days (and, yes, I'll admit that I'm 42), there was very little to choose from in the way of homeschool curricula. Most textbook companies wouldn't sell to individuals. And few companies were marketing curricula specifically for homeschoolers.

It would be an understatement to say that things have changed.

Just as an example, when I got the Rainbow Resource catalog in the mail last month it was so big that I decided to keep it by my bed to throw at any strangers that break into my house in the night. If anyone was hit by that thing, they'd be in sure trouble!

Sometimes this huge array of curricula available can overwhelm a new homeschool mom. What's a mom to do when she's faced with catalogs and websites and homeschool convention vendor halls?

Take a deep breath and follow these steps to help you choose your curricula.

Steps to choosing homeschool curricula

Step one- Make a list of classes that each student will take.

Consider what classes each of your students needs to take. In my state, the law says that our curriculum has to include math, history, science, and language arts. We always cover those and usually include more as well. Take some time to think about what you are going to teach and list those classes for each student.

Step two- Take time to consider your priorities.

What is most important for you in your homeschooling? Do you want to use curricula that is very structured? Do you want your curriculum to be academically stringent? Do you want curricula that you can use with multiple children or with the whole family? Is it important to you to have online instruction so that you can be more free to go back and forth checking on each child? If you take some time to clarify your priorities, you'll know what kind of curricula to look for.

Step three- Determine your curriculum budget.

I hate to be the voice of reason, but as you're preparing to pick out curricula, you need to consider your budget. Yes, your budget.

Before you start shopping, sit down with your husband and determine how much you can spend on curricula. This step is super important because, believe me, there is so much good curricula out there. It is so easy to start buying and get carried away. Having a set budget will help you decide what kind of curricula you can look for before you find that perfect curriculum and realize that...you can't afford it.

Step four- Shop popular curricula sites.

Sometimes you'll have a particular curricula in mind for a class. You'll have a recommendation from a friend or you'll have seen something online that looks great. But other times, you may not have any idea what curriculum you want. You may have a vague notion of what kind of curriculum you're looking for, but you don't know where to find something that fits what you have in mind.

Here are a few of the sites that I browse when I need to find a curriculum and don't really have something in mind.

  • Rainbow Resource- This is a huge site with curricula for every subject you can think of. They carry resources from many of the commonly known curricula companies. You can search by grade or subject to get some ideas and suggestions.
  • Apologia- Although they are known primarily for their awesome science curricula, Apologia now carries resources for a variety of subjects, including Bible, worldview, and language arts as well as science.
  • Compass Classroom- This company isn't as well known as some, but I've used several of their resources and really loved them. They have history, language arts, Bible, and several elective curricula. They also have online classes.
  • Bright Ideas Press- This is another place I've found some great resources. You can find science, history, geography, and some literature curricula here. This is the publisher of the great science resources I blogged about here and the geography course my daughter is going to take this year.
  • CurrClick- This site has curricula for all subjects and all ages. The unique thing about the curricula offered here is that it's all downloadable curricula. This can be great if you're looking for a resource, and you need it right away. I've found good literature unit studies on CurrClick and been able to download them and begin using them that day.

Step five- Read reviews.

Once you've found a curriculum that looks good, you breathe a sigh of relief. But don't be too quick to buy something. Always, always, always read the reviews. I've learned this the hard way.

There have been too many times that I've looked up a curriculum online, read the description, and even looked at sample pages- only to get it and realize it wasn't good for my kids. I should have read the reviews.

Reviews can give you an idea, not only of whether or not people liked the curriculum, but also how they used it and what worked or didn't work for their children. There have been times I've read negative reviews but realized that the things that reviewer didn't like would really be good for us. Likewise, I've read positive reviews that let me know that, although things worked out great for this family, my kids wouldn't do well with the curriculum.

There are several places you can find reviews:

  • The Schoolhouse Review Crew- I have to mention the Review Crew at first, of course. I've reviewed for the Crew for three and half years now. When we review a product we try to give details about what worked and what didn't. So when you read the Crew reviews, you'll be able to see what may or may not work for your kids.
  • The Homeschool Mom has many, many reviews written by...homeschool moms. You can look up curricula by subjects or by publisher.
  • Cathy Duffy Reviews is a very well known site with many homeschool reviews. You can search for a specific product or browse reviews by subject or by author.
  • Amazon- Even if you aren't going to purchase the curriculum from Amazon, you can look it up to see if there are reviews for it. Amazon is a very popular place for reviews and opinions, so you may find a variety of reviews and thoughts about that curriculum you're considering.

Step six- Choose and record curricula for each subject for each student.

After you've done all this research and gathered all this information,  you're finally ready to buy your curricula! But...please don't forget this step.

Do you remember that nice list of kids and courses you made in step one? Please, please, record the curricula that you've purchased on that list.

Why? Because we're moms. And moms are thinking of 5,000 things at one time. And, no matter your good intentions, there will come a time when you will forget. You'll forget that language arts curriculum that you paid $75 for in May. And you'll find a language arts curriculum in July that would be perfect to use this coming year. And you'll buy it...for $75. And then, you'll get out the books for the new school year, and... I'm sure you can where this is going.

I speak from the voice of experience. Don't skip this step. Record the curricula as you purchase it.


And now... you're done. Rinse and repeat for as many kids and subjects as you need curricula for. (Just a hint: any curriculum that you can share or use with multiple children is a great idea for your budget and saves you time as you are choosing curricula.)

If you'd like something to make this process a little easier, you can download my free curriculum planners here. One planner is a spreadsheet that allows you to list all of your children and their subjects and record curricula as you plan and purchase. The other is a single sheet that you can use to record all of the curricula one student needs. You can print multiple sheets for each of your students.

Free homeschool curriculum planner



Find more Homeschool 101 posts this week at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog hop. You can find other posts about curriculum in the linky below.

5 Days of Homeschool 101


A Step By Step Guide to Choosing Your Homeschool Curricula Without Losing Your Mind A Step By Step Guide to Choosing Your Homeschool Curricula Without Losing Your Mind Reviewed by Leah Courtney on 9:59:00 AM Rating: 5

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