Homeschool Curriculum – Getting Started & What You Need To Know
One of the challenges of finding a homeschool curriculum that meets the needs of your child is that one size does not fit all. Many families find that a curriculum that fits for one child, does not fit for another. What worked well one semester, may feel stale and stop working the next. Nobody said homeschooling was going to be easy.
While this might seem overwhelming, because you don’t know where to start, you have a few options available to you. A complete homeschool curriculum, an eclectic mix of homeschool curriculum which can be pieced together using multiple sources, online homeschooling, and more. Further, there are multiple ways to homeschool your children. Your homeschool curriculum should fit the method that works best for your family.
Here are a few different types of homeschooling. First of all, there is no “right way” to homeschool and you need to choose the method and the curriculum that works best for your family. Almost all homeschoolers start out with one style and switch to another during their homeschooling career.
1. Eclectic or Relaxed Homeschooling Curriculum
This is the most widely used method of homeschooling. With this method, parents choose subjects they feel are important, as well as materials and experiences that fit their children’s learning styles. This might mean workbooks one day, field trips another, and an outside class every now and then.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for eclectic educators:
- Life of Fred – Beloved by homeschoolers everywhere, these books teach math (and other concepts) in a fun and silly way.
- Hooked on Phonics – This complete learn-to-read kit for grades PreK-2 sets children up for reading success with just 20 minutes of practice each day.
- Rock ‘N Learn – These entertaining DVDs teach with music, humor, and fun characters.
2. Classical Homeschooling
The Classical Homeschooling method structures learning by building off of the “trivium” – using the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage. In the Grammar Stage, children build a foundation around their excitement for learning and memorization. This works especially well for learning spelling rules, phonics rules, and math rules.
Around age 11, students begin the second stage which is known as the Logic Stage. During this stage, children shift from learning facts to thinking analytically. Specifically, children learn how the facts they learned in the Grammar Stage fit into life logically.
Around high school age, students enter the Rhetoric Stage of their education. This stage builds upon the first two stages and encourages students to draw on the facts and logic they have previously learned to develop an individuated approach to the way they think and learn.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Classical homeschoolers:
- Singapore Math – Singapore Math provides a series of math workbooks for early elementary students. You can use the workbooks to strengthen concepts, understanding, and improve math skills.
- Alpha Omega Publications – Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum and educational resources. AOP’s Bible-based curriculum comes in print, computer-based and online formats.
- Wondrous Worksheets – Wondrous Worksheets provides access to more than 800 printable worksheets focusing on a variety of topics. These topics include math, grammar, handwriting, and more.
Unschooling (also known as interest-led or child-led homeschooling) is the most relaxed form of homeschooling. Unschooled children have the freedom to let their interests determine their lessons. Because children are able to use their interests to learn and research, they are motivated to do so, and learn about things they are passionate about.
Unschooling is a very individualized homeschooling method. As such, there is no “right” or “wrong” approach in the unschooling community. You might say that unschooling is more than just a type of homeschooling – unschooling is a lifestyle. And yes, kids do learn in unschooling!
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Unschoolers:
- LearnToMod – The game leverages children’s love of Minecraft to teach gamers how to code.
- Magic School Bus Science Club – This is a 12-month subscription to Ms. Frizzle-approved science experiments. Every month, a science kit is delivered to your home for hands-on, science fun.
- Butterfly Garden – This hands-on learning opportunity teaches kids about the life cycle.
4. Charlotte Mason
The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is named after its founder Charlotte Mason. She believed that education was more than just book work and studies, it was a lifestyle.
The bulk of the academics in the Charlotte Mason style come from living books. A living book is a book that brings a subject to life, usually written in narrative perspective by a person who has a passion for the subject. In addition to living books, Charlotte Mason used copy work and dictation to teach reading and writing. Because of this, the Charlotte Mason method works especially well for families that enjoy literature-based learning.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for using the Charlotte Mason method:
- Life of Fred Books – These books focus on the fun and page-turning tales of Fred Gauss. During his adventures, Fred encounters everyday math situations that call for solving mathematical problems. The best things about these books? Children actually want to read them.
- Complete Curriculum – Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface. Students experience exciting supplemental activities, real-world application exercises, and activities that develop 21st century skill sets.
- Elementary Zoology Curriculum – This curriculum combines the study of both land animals and sea creatures, complete with trips to the zoo and aquarium.
5. Road Schooling
Road Schooling is exactly what it sounds like. It means working on homeschool lessons while your family travels. Road schoolers may travel around the United States or from country to country. They use the destination and the road as part of their curriculum.
Many destinations are planned around what educational experiences can be found on arrival. While students explore museums, local history, art shows, and parks, they are also soaking up lessons related to a specific locale. As a result, road schooling is not just a homeschool option, it is a lifestyle option.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for road schoolers:
- Complete Curriculum – Complete Curriculum publishes distinctive K-12 digital texts and provides an engaging web-based instructional interface. Students experience supplemental activities, real-world application exercises, and activities that develop 21st century skill sets.
- Lapbooks – Knowledge Box Central offers dozens of lapbooks focusing on many themes, including Little House on the Prairie, Wars Around the World, and the Math & Money Lapbook Bundle.
- Travel Size USA Map Set – Bring geography lessons on the road with Mona MELisa’s, reusable, fabric sticker sets.
6. Tech Schooling
While this is a somewhat new concept in homeschooling, tech schooling takes curriculum from books and text to computers and electronics. Homeschoolers using this approach integrate tools such as YouTube, Word, and Excel into their lesson plans.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Tech Schoolers:
- Math Mammoth – This homeschool math curriculum is designed to break lessons down to be as simple as possible for young learners. Because Math Mammoth organizes their curriculum by grade level or by subject, tech schoolers can download the files to a device and complete the assignments using an annotation app very easily.
- Typesy – A program that combines exercises and video — it’s just like being in a room with the world’s best typing instructor.
- FarFaria – Also known as “Netflix for Children’s Books.” Kids can choose from thousands of stories on a mobile device.
- DigiPuppets Toys & Apps – Adorable “connected toys” that help kids engage, role-play and re-enact, bringing playtime off the screen.
- Bluebee Pals – A plush talking educational learning tool that sings educational songs, reads stories and entertains. It can sync with any bluetooth device for extended learning.
7. Online Homeschooling
Online homeschooling is beneficial for students who have developed typing skills and are proficient on the computer. Because homeschooled kids can access online materials from any computer with internet connection, and while they can work on homeschool lessons at home, they can also do their work at a family member’s house, at the library, or on the road. Consequently, online homeschool programs incorporate multimedia so that all types of learners can benefit from the program.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Online Homeschoolers:
- Monarch – Hand-pick the perfect combination of courses to match your student’s learning level while enjoying Monarch online curriculum’s automatic grading, media-rich lessons, and other powerful features. You can try Monarch FREE for a full month – just use promo code: MON30EDU.
- American School – American School offers accredited middle and high school courses in online and paper-based formats at an affordable cost. You can choose form full-year and full diploma programs or take individual courses to enrich existing homeschool programs. AP courses, honor courses and world language courses are also available. Visit americanschool.org/educents to learn more.
8. Online Public Schooling
Online public schooling is different than other homeschooling options, as it is connected to the public school system and is aligned to state standards. As a result, a family receives all books and materials free of charge. If you’re interested in homeschooling but overwhelmed by the idea, this might be a place to start (although some homeschoolers don’t consider this homeschooling at all).
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for online public schooling educators:
- Times Tales – Learn the upper times tables in a snap with these silly stories.
- Permacharts – Supplement online lessons with study aids that allow a student to reference facts, charts, and concepts on any subject.
- Rock ‘N Learn – These entertaining DVDs teach with music, humor, and fun characters.
9. The Waldorf Method
This method incorporates the importance of educating the entire child which includes body, mind, and spirit. Most importantly, this is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner. During the early grades, Waldorf stresses art, crafts, music, movement, and nature. Students do not use standard textbooks in the Waldorf Homeschool environment, instead, children are encouraged to write their own books. Because of this, electronic devices such as televisions and computers are limited.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Waldorf Method educators:
- Lapbooks – Supplement textbooks and workbooks for lapbooks which allow for interactive and creative learning.
- Science Art Fusion Bundle – This bundle of science experiments and art projects blends art & STEM lessons together.
10. Unit Studies
This concept centers around turning your child’s favorite subjects into curriculum. As an example, if your son loves ships and sailing, you might focus on the history of the world and how it relates to the sea. While your math lessons could include all the methods needed to sail the world, you could also assign relevant books, art projects, and visit a sailing museum. In addition, you might even enroll your son in sailing lessons.
Homeschooling Curriculum Suggestions for Unit Studies:
- Online Unit Studies – Your kids can dive into a variety of subjects that interest them, with these Online Unit Studies created by a homeschooling mom.
- Manga Novel “Textbooks” – Teach important STEM concepts with these manga (comic) book style “textbooks”.
For my family, we use an eclectic style of homeschooling. Because Eclectic Homeschool Curriculum means picking and choosing different curriculum providers for different subjects, that could mean that you choose Life of Fred for your math lessons, and Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for writing. You choose based on your child’s unique learning style. Because not one particular curriculum will fit your child right out of the box so some parents choose to use a complete homeschool curriculum their very first year and then customize an eclectic homeschool curriculum in future years.
My best friend, who is also a homeschooling mom, uses a complete curriculum, meaning they have one main curriculum and use that for all subjects (with small tweaks and supplements along the way). While a complete homeschool curriculum typically comes from providers like A Beka Book, Enlightium Academy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Alpha Omega Publications, Pearson, Heart of Dakota, Calvert, K12, My Father’s World, Sonlight, Easy Peasy – All in One Homeschool, there are many more that I haven’t listed.
Finally, no matter what you choose, HowToHomeschool.net will help you through this process. There are hundreds of reviews of homeschool curriculum and lots of experts standing by to help you choose a curriculum that is best for your child.