Choosing Curriculum: Make it Personal

The Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team is talking curriculum this month. 

This is a topic that used to cause me such anxiety.  As we are now finishing up our 5th year of schooling at home, and planning on the 6th, I do feel a lot more at ease and I'm happy to share what works for us.

When I started homeschooling I was so anxious on my "performance" (what other's thought of me), so I mimicked public school as best I could.  I printed worksheet after worksheet.  Stacks of the suckers.  And I made my poor (then) 4 year old wiggly boy sit through and complete them.   While it made me feel less anxious to mimic a public school it did not in any way work for my kinesthetic visual learner.  School soon became stressful for us all and we both hated it.  That's when I clued in that I need to find our own curriculum - not a public school curriculum.

I'd say the first thing to do is sit and think about how you would like to teach.  Do some research on different methods and also consider your child's way of learning.    It's very useful to have a general understanding of the many methods of schooling before you choose a curriculum in any given style.  There is so much out there and the saturated market can be very overwhelming - which is why you should narrow down to at least your preferred method of teaching.  Here's a couple links to get you started:

We do best with an eclectic style of school.  I love the idea of the Charlotte Mason method.  In addition we love unit studies, as well as child-led learning and we love love love literature.  With a little bit of help from Cathy Duffy, I found several curriculums that fit our current personal needs/wants.

Most of these are too pricey on our single income with 3 children to teach.  So what happened is I went with the Five in Row because I can teach all my children with great flexibility. 

I often visit the other sites and view the appropriate grades.  I make notes of the books I like best, and what topics my kids would most want to learn.  I find a homeschool conference near me and look at the list of vendors then visit the vendors websites to see if they have the books or curriculum I am interested in.

Attending conferences has saved us money in that there's been several times I thought I would want a certain book or box set and I've done my research online and have been certain it was for me.  I'll make my beeline to the vendor, locate the book, pick it up and realize it wasn't what I thought at all.  Or I'll see it isn't a good match for my child after all. 

When I can't find a good fit at a conference, I have one last resource I look into.

My most favorite "curriculum finder":  the library.  After researching my favorite publishers, I search my list of books on the library catalogue.  Having the book to take home is so helpful in deciding if  I'd like to purchase it for our bookshelves or not - which is great money saver.

The library is my first "go to" for many subjects.  Even if I can't find an exact match, there's likely to be a related book in the same topic.  You can find language arts books, history, social studies, science, math, art methods, art history, music history, and on and on.  And the best part:  it's free.

With the library we aren't confined to a boxed curriculum.  We can learn what we want when we want and at our own pace.  We aren't reading textbooks, we are reading real books.

It took just a couple times of going to the library as our main source of learning before our oldest (8) caught on and started anticipating our weekly trips.  Each week he runs ahead of me and makes his way quick to the juvenile non-fiction where he searches for topics that catch his eye.  I don't even have to choose curriculum for him anymore, really.  He does it (mostly) on his own.

I just love that he's learned at a young age, to seek books to learn information.  He doesn't even realize he's learning because to him it's all fun.  It's all what he chose based on his interests.  To me, this is a great lifelong habit to be fostering.

Getting out of the "box" can be scary.  It is also so worth it.

To see how the rest of the Blogging Team chooses their curriculum and for a wonderful printable to help you plan your own, visit The Canadian Homeschooler



  1. This is a great post. I love that you school "out of the box". It can be SO tempting to learn with "official" materials - but you are right, it's not a match for every kid!

    I've been looking at b4FIAR for my Jr. - because he loves "School" time and I want to be more intentional to spend time with him. I'm excited you've shared so much about it on your blog. I'm going to check them out! :)

    1. funny enough, after I wrote this my 4 year old came to me with a stack of 4 workbooks and sat down for about an hour eagerly completing pages. We had to actually force her to stop for bedtime. The polar opposite of her big brother!

      Just in time for me to be comfortable being "out of the box", she comes along and wants in the box! haa! Thank God for flexibility!


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