By Terry Neven (assistance from Linda Beeson)
Home school Curriculum includes any item that helps you teach a subject (Example: coins and dominoes for math, a globe for social studies). Not all curriculum needs to be purchased. Library books can be used for social studies, science, health and safety and language arts (i.e., literature). Games can be exchanged between home schooling families. Most families buy more curriculum then they need. The fear of not doing a good job can contribute to impulse spending. Don't buy anything that doesn't appeal to you personally. If you don't like it, you won't use it (even if you think your child needs it or that he would like it.)
There is everything from textbooks, workbooks, online courses or informal approaches for curriculum. The informal approach may depend on the parent/teacher or the grade/age of the student. As an example, a younger student could learn through "curriculum" pulled together by the parent; such as, library books, individual topic workbooks from a chain store (Walmart, Target, etc.) and hands on tools. While a high school student might be taught Spanish from a parent who is provicient in Spanish and has some resources on hand.
Keep in mind your personality at the parent/teacher when considering a purchase. Do you like research and intricate projects that require prior preparation time? Then you might enjoy the unit‑study method (Example: Konos, Alpha-Omega or Weaver curriculum), or do you want everything spelled out and simplified? You should look for a traditional home school textbook with the teacher's manual (Abeka, Bob Jones, etc.). Keep in mind your child's personality. Would he experience a sense of accomplishment from completing a work book? Or does he hate to even write his name on the page? This child could learn better with hands‑on materials and oral work.
Don't buy curriculum sight unseen. Use catalogs from a home school publisher to provide an overview of what's available, but remember that they are designed to motivate you to purchase their products. Buy Language and Math items first. Buy only for present needs. Your enthusiasm for using an item is highest at the time of purchase. You could push a child past his capabilities in your desire to use the item. One can also purchase as you "go along." Sometimes changes during the year can be helpful, rather than hanging in there, just because you spent money on the books.
Plan in advance what you need to purchase. You can also buy items throughout the year (Christmas, birthdays or when enthusiasm is lagging). A good secular textbook is better than a poor religious one. (check ahead of time for possible undesired overtones). Before going to a curriculum faire or home school curriculum store, decide exactly what you want to buy. This should keep you from impulse spending and being overwhelmed by hugh selections of items. You can also add to the curriculum during the year as you see how well you child is doing, rather than overwhelming them and yourself at the start.
Talk to other home schooling families to learn what is available (keeping in mind that someone else may have experiencal advice, or research online for materials that someone else is selling), or talk with a homeschool consultant, 1-800-525-4419. If you don't like a subject (math for example), find ways to increase your interest and ability. A home school parent’s enthusiasm about the subject motivates the student. Finally, teachers teach, books don't. The item is only as valuable as the amount of use it receives. How much is learned can depend on you and your child. When facing challenges during the year, have others you can go to for advice. You don't have to figure it out solely on your own.
SUNLAND - THE HOME SCHOOL PROGRAM
1-800-525-4419 / 818-523-6791