Back-to-Homeschool: Five Tips for Choosing Curricula ...And a Free Curriculum Planner Worksheet (Five Days of Preparing for a New Homeschool Year)

One of my happiest times of year is when the UPS truck begins to make stops at our house delivering our homeschool curricula. Don't laugh, Homeschool Mama, you know you love it too. I usually begin shopping for my curricula for the next homeschooling year in January or February.

I don't buy everything all at once. I take time to chart out which kids need curricula for which subjects. I record anything we already own and are going to reuse. And then I pick out what I want that's new. I compare prices across multiple sites. Often Amazon is cheaper, but sometimes I buy straight from the publisher to make sure I'm getting the newest edition. Or Rainbow Resource may have the curriculum I'm looking for cheaper.

Back to homeschool tips for choosing curricula
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There are so many things to think about when you first begin to choose your curricula. In this second post of the Five Days of Preparing for a New Homeschool Year, you can find five tips for choosing your curricula. You can also pick up a free homeschool curriculum planner that will help you as you plan out curricula for the new year.

You can find the other posts in this five day series here:

Organizing the Schoolroom

Choosing Curricula
Must-Have Supplies
Finding Time for Quiet Time
Choosing the Read Alouds

Think about how you like to teach.

Occasionally I'll see a certain curriculum being discussed among homeschool groups as if it's the next best thing to sliced bread, but when I look closely, I know I could never use it because it doesn't fit the way I like to teach. Or I have a friend recommend a curriculum that is working stunningly for her family, but when I consider it, I know that I would never like to use it.

The fact is that our teaching styles are all different. I work well with a guide but lots of flexibility. I've tried very structured curricula in the past, and I just hate it. It's not bad curricula. But it's bad for me because it doesn't fit my teaching style. I also work well with curricula that is very literature based. I've tried using various textbooks, and I usually end up disliking them. It's not that anything is wrong with them. It's just that I like to read real books, maybe using a textbook as only a spine.

It's important to consider what fits your style when you are choosing curricula. Otherwise it's easy to get sucked into the trap of picking what everyone else loves only to find out that you hate it because it's just not your style.

Observe how your children learn.

As well as knowing what kind of curricula I can best teach, I've learned to watch my kids to see what type of curricula they can best use. And I've had to learn the difficult lesson that what's the best fit for them may not be what I love.

My oldest daughter loves literature. Kathryne is a reader like me. She loves a literature based curriculum. But Charles is not a reader. And when he headed into more independent work, trying to make him use a literature based curriculum just wasn't practical. He prefers a straightforward textbook and mastery based, self-paced curricula. It isn't what would be my first choice. But my decisions have to also be based on how my kids learn best.

Consider your long term goals.

This consideration has became especially important as my oldest children headed into high school and began to consider their after high school plans. As I choose yearly curriculum, I- and the kids- needed to understand what our long term goals were. And their goals really haven't even been the same.

While my oldest planned for college and chose classes that were academically strenuous and that would meet the admissions requirements, my second-born has chosen to work towards taking classes at a tech school. So choices for their curricula have reflected the goals they're working toward.

Even when my children were younger, I made some consideration of long term. Will we homeschool through the summer this year? Do they need to meet certain grade level requirements as they enter their middle school years in order to prepare for high school? Do they need to take standardized testing this year? All of these long term goals have affected my choice of curriculum.

Back to homeschool tips for choosing curricula

Set a budget.

Ah. This is the tip I wish I could not consider. If I had all the money in the world, just think of all of the curricula I could buy! (Only a homeschool mom will understand.) Unfortunately, I do have to consider our budget. Our curriculum funds are not unlimited.

Each spring I make that list of curricula choices for each child. I include what is really a major need and then what are resources I'd like if there are funds. I also consider where I can combine classes and have two or more use the same resources.

I take this list to my financial adviser- my husband- and receive the verdict. We talk about the list and whittle it down to what we really can afford. Only after I have the list finalized in this way do I begin to purchase anything. By sticking to the budget I can ensure that I don't just start buying and run out of money before we have the "must haves."

Look for free resources.

Finding free homeschool curricula resources can definitely help to fill in gaps left by the budget cuts.With a good computer, printer, and internet access, you can (almost) homeschool for free. I have a whole (always growing) page here on the blog where I list free homeschool resources.

Many of the free resources you'll find are things you'll need to piece together in order to fully cover all subjects. But there are a few totally free full curriculum sites out there. Here are a few. There are others listed on the free resources page.

Whether you're looking for a whole curriculum or just filling in gaps, finding free resources can certainly help end your budget woes.

As I consider each of these things, I can narrow down my choices and choose the homeschool curricula that is the best for us. You can use this free curricula planning worksheet to help you plan what resources you need for the kids this year. The worksheet file has a spreadsheet option or an option that allows you to print a PDF file and fill it in. For the spreadsheet, simply copy Google Drive file so that you have access to view or edit.


  1. Knowing how your child learns is SO important. NOT doing so has blown my budget more than once (you'd think I'd learn!)

    1. I agree! There have been times I just should have known better. :-)


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