What is the best homeschool curriculum?
That is a GREAT question!! It’s also a question that only you can answer. Choosing the best homeschool curriculum is relative to you and your family. A box curriculum can cost a great deal of money, so how much are you and your family comfortable spending on the purchase of books and their support material? Also, are you even sure you want a boxed curriculum? Maybe you want to chose some books from one company and some videos from another company. Or maybe your child learns best from conversation and you don’t really want to use books at all.
A boxed curriculum can easily cost about $300 just for the books alone. Then, by the time you purchase all of the support materials available and teacher’s manuals, you are up to nearly $600. That’s just for ONE curriculum! What is you have other children? Are you supposed to pay $600 per child to homeschool, every year!? That could get expensive really quickly. Fortunately, though, it’s still cheaper than the cost of a private school, so if a completely packaged curriculum is your thing, definitely go for it. It will make your homeschooling life easier and will likely all tie in together. Abeka and Bob Jones are the first two (favorites of mine!) that pop into my head.
Should you spiral?
Most schools, public and private, use the spiral approach to teaching. I must say, it’s my favorite (maybe that’s just because it’s what I’m used to). A spiral approach to learning teaches your child a new concept and then doubles back and offers practice on previously learned concepts; thus, it cements the material in your child’s mind with repetition. It works for my 8 year old. However, having said that, I have seen some children who are golden once they learn a concept! I think that is phenomenal and completely foreign to our household. I still have to remind my boys to use soap when they wash their hands! So, definitely, when it comes to school, we will be repeating the things we’ve learned to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything. That is why the sprial approach works so well for us.
I LOVE a good workbook. In my mind, a workbook not only offers practice on what is being taught but it also teaches the concept to the child. That way, if I’m busy cooking dinner, my child can learn what he needs to just by reading the worksheet and the proceed to do his assigned work. Now… it literally NEVER works out that way. But it could. One day. I am still very hopeful about this. My 8 year old likes it when I sit beside him and listen to him work out EVERY. SINGLE. PROBLEM. Which is great. I’m sure. I love spending time with my child. The housework can wait. The dishes don’t need to be cleaned. Dinner does not need to be cooked… right? No, right. Got it. So… workbooks COULD be great for you and yours. Also, mine. However, some parents and their children despise workbooks. There are all kinds of tactile stimuli available to work through a problem in real life form which completely eliminates the need for a workbook. Maybe instead of writing answers in a workbook, questions are asked and answered verbally. Maybe instead of showing 1+2=3 on paper, you can take 3 hotwheels cars and make the problem in real time. The possibilities here are endless, and it really depends on the path you and your child want to take together.
Any school books?
Maybe you’re the parent that doesn’t really see the need to order “school books” but would rather have your child learn from real life experiences. Botany can be learned from spending time outside in nature and learning about the plants from Youtube and Google Images. Maybe you want your babies to learn history by reading about certian people from that time period. Perhaps math will be taught in the kitchen while measuring out different ingredients for dinner (which sounds so awesome! Kudos to the parents that can pull this off…). Science and life cycles can be taught by having your children take care of some pet fish that they have to feed. I absolutely love the fact that our children are going to learn no matter what we do, whether we are trying or not. Those little brains are just like little sponges soaking up information. They are going to absorb what they see, and they are going to process it.
Figuring it all out
It’s easier said than done. I spent nearly 6 months searching different curriculums and browsing different companies websites. I finally ordered the highest recommended books that were going to make my baby boy superbly smart and knock those SATs out of the water (yes, I know he was only 6, but I was preparing for this boy’s future!). I did all of that without taking the time to think about what my family was actually like. I didn’t take the time to assess my son’s learning style. This set us up for failure. We spent a lot of time trying to work from books that just didn’t work for my son. He cried. I cried. It was miserable. Finally, I scrapped it all and started over. My son is very tactile. He learns by touching, moving, inspecting, and feeling things. While I can still use workbooks and the spiral approach (because I love them both), he definitely needs the manipulatives to be able to understand the concept and work it out for himself.
While I think that Abeka and Bob Jones are wonderful curriculums, I have fallen in love with the Christian Light Education curriculum. We are not overly religious people, so I was a bit skeptical about going with a Christian curriculum, I cannot say enough how much I love it. I am able to order all of the materials I need (including teacher’s manuals) for less than $300, and as such, I don’t feel bad when I branch away from the curriculum and teach my children through other methods (because rest assured, I would not even look at another book if I had invested $600 in one curriculum).
So before you choose any curriculum, spend some time figuring out how your child learns. Then, delve into the difficult choice of ordering your products. One of my favorite review sites to check out is Cathy Duffy’s Homeschool Curriculum Reviews. She breaks down every single homeschool book I’ve ever heard of and gives you the pros and cons. She even has a book available that tells her top 102 picks:
Definitely check her out! She is a great resouce! If you have any further questions about curriculums or homeschool methods, please email me or drop a comment below! I would love to hear from you.
Erin T. is a military wife, mom of two homeschooled boys, and works PRN at a local hospital. She has lived in multiple states incluing NC, VA, and KY. She enjoys writing articles about her homeschool journey and different life experiences. If you would like to email Erin directly, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.