7 Tips for Choosing Materials

7 Tips for Choosing Materials
7 Tips for Choosing Materials

Even DIY homeschool moms occasionally struggle with curriculum decisions. After all, there is a wealth of materials to choose from! Here are 7 tips that will make choosing materials easier:

1. Set Goals Before Buying

By setting your goals, and keeping them in front of you, you’ll save yourself untold stress, angst, and money. Those materials you choose will help you reach your goals, or you can simply overlook them.

2. Don’t Look for a Silver Bullet

You won’t find it. You will likely not find the right curriculum. Besides, your materials should serve you, not enslave you. So look for those materials that you can tweak and modify as necessary to fit your family.

3. Know Thyself

No matter how great it is, if it doesn’t fit your way of doing things, you aren’t going to enjoy using it for long. So which are you?

  • Do-it-yourself?
  • Mix-and-match?
  • Ready-to-serve?

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll likely feel rather stifled by that plan that is all laid out. On the other hand, if you are more ready-to-serve, you might feel unorganized and like you are not accomplishing anything if you don’t have a plan already laid out for you.

4. Focus on the Child

What does each child need to excel? How does he learn best? Will that spiral review drive him crazy if he already understands a concept? Does he need lots of opportunities for practice?

It is the child you are teaching, not the book.

Ruth Beechick, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully

5. Just Take the Next Step

Sometimes we want things laid out from kindergarten to college. While those plans may initially make us feel like we know what we are doing, we have to remember that plans change as needs change. As the family grows, our needs often grow. What worked for one child seldom works for every child. So just do the next thing. There is enough to consider when pulling together materials for just one year!

6. Stay Off of the Bandwagon

It never seems to be going in the right direction — and its direction tends to change frequently! If something that is new and popular fits your needs, fine. If not, just wait. There’ll be a new guy on the block in no time.

7. It’s OK to Make a Mistake

Sometimes it happens that the product we chose wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We struggle on for some time — against our child’s protests and our own reservations — simply because we have our hard-earned dollars invested in the program. While it does make sense to give materials a fair shot, it is also true that banging our head against the wall doesn’t serve anyone. Eventually there comes a time when it is time to call it quits and move on.

Obviously it makes more sense to finish up the year, if possible, for two reasons:

  • We don’t want to give our children the idea that we will switch gears simply because they do not enjoy what they are doing.
  • That waiting time gives us time to decide what we do need, making a sound decision rather than one born of desperation.

Curriculum decisions are not set in stone. And there are usually others around who will be happy to give your product a shot and help you recoup your investment.