I’m going to spare you some heartache–there is no perfect curriculum. So relax. The success of your program doesn’t hinge on the books you pick. You are the backbone of your family’s schooling; the materials are just tools in that process. One of the fantastic advantages of homeschooling is that we don’t have to force our children into a one-size-fits-all learning system. Every child, and every family, is unique. We have the freedom to find what works best.

Laura, “There are many different philosophies and methods and none of them works for everyone. We each need to find what’s right for our family.”

Cecilia, “What worked for me as a kid, might not work for them.”

Kim, “Find out how your child learns in the beginning.”

I highly recommend The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. This book helped me to understand Teen’s learning style, which was, and still is, radically different than my own. I read it when he was in third grade, and it made me realize I was forcing him into my mold. His early education was marked by frustration on both sides due to this. Once I had a better handle on what he needed, our school days were more fun!

Finding out your child’s learning style and your families’ distinct culture takes time and experimentation. By time, I mean months, even a couple of years. During that period, you need to be flexible with your curriculum. Changing things up is key to being successful.

When I chose preK curriculum for Tot last year, I was going through some health issues associated with my kidney disease. I figured fatigue was the new normal and chose an all-in-one program. I knew I didn’t have the energy to plan and assemble materials like I had done when Teen was that age. A couple of months into the year, my nephrologist (kidney doc) noticed some deficiencies and prescribed three different supplements. My energy skyrocketed. As a result, I quickly grew dissatisfied with the structured curriculum. There was nothing specifically wrong with it, but I like to have more direct input in my child’s education, and Tot needed more variety. So I ditched the all-in-one and switched to the more patchwork style I prefer.

The only constant in homeschooling is change, and your curriculum needs to change with it. What connects with your oldest may leave your youngest totally confused. The publisher whose science your child loves may produce a math text your child hates with the passion of a thousand fire ants. I ran into that one with Teen. He responded well to both the English and Science from an established and reputable publisher, but their Algebra left him lost. Mix in the ever changing landscape we call life, and you get following truth:

Pam, “It’s different every year. What works one year, doesn’t work the next.”

You might be thinking, “If everything is always in flux, what about curriculum? ‘Cause that stuff ain’t cheap.” It’s true; brand spankin’ new materials aren’t cheap. That all-in-one I mentioned above cost me over two hundred dollars. Thankfully, what I replaced it with was inexpensive. Until you have things figured out, it’s wise to buy used materials or borrow. Heck, it’s wise to buy used even after you figure things out. Who doesn’t want to save money? Unless you’re obsessed with the smell and feel of a new book like me, hunt down those deals. The internet provides a wealth of resources from Amazon and Ebay to regional Facebook pages dedicated to curriculum exchange. Local homeschool groups often hold used book fairs, and my town even has a used homeschool bookstore. And don’t forget that lovely, free resource provided by your local government–the library.

Theresa, “I wish someone had told me that you could homeschool for next to nothing or nothing if you really wanted to…there is curriculum in everything around you. Don’t forget that library books are free, and you can learn a lot just from that.”

A mechanic chooses the correct tools for the job and changes them as needed to complete his task. In the same way, you are the teacher, and the books are your tools. Choose the right ones for your family and feel free to change them when necessary.  

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