Did you know that you can provide your child with a quality education for nearly no cost? And that in doing so, you can at the same time provide him with a very personalized education? The trade-off is time for dollars. For those who find themselves preferring to trade dollars for time, or those who prefer to have things laid out for them, here are 6 tips for making wise curriculum purchases without becoming a slave to the process:
1. Keep curriculum purchases in the proper context.
We can suffer a great deal of angst over this issue. Remember: the materials you purchase are only tools. Nothing more. They help you accomplish your goals. As such you need to first have goals for each child, and make sure the tools will help you achieve those goals. Putting too much emphasis on the materials you purchase:
- Keeps you searching for that magic bullet. (Hint: it doesn’t exist.)
- Makes curriculum the culprit rather than the servant.
- Encourages all-too-frequent curriculum changes.
“Curriculum materials are less important than we tend to think. They do not make or break your homeschool — unless you try to use too much. That might break a few things.”
Ruth Beechick, A Biblical Home Education
2. Choose materials that are consistent with your views.
We have the advantage of being able to pass our faith on to our children. It makes very little sense then to feed them books and literature that are antagonistic to that faith.
Yes, at some point after our children are grounded, it does make sense to cover and discuss those things. But rarely should our youngest learners be burdened with materials that conflict with what they are being taught.
3. Don’t worry about taking it all in.
Back in the day, you could pick up one popular catalog and hold it comfortably in one hand. If you try to cover everything out there, you will very likely become overwhelmed.
Homeschool moms represent an incredible market. We love to spend money on our children, particularly if we think it will help them. Sellers know this and they unabashedly use the information to their advantage.
So stay focused on those items you are really seeking, and put your blinders on before you take the leap!
4. Make sure the curriculum you purchase fits you.
It can be the best thing since sliced bread, but if a new curriculum doesn’t fit your teaching style you won’t be happy using it.
Some moms prefer more structure:
- Having things laid out for them in advance.
- Knowing what will be covered on a specific day.
- Having a script to rely on to help them teach the lesson.
Other moms would prefer more freedom:
- Open-ended questions.
- A general timetable.
- A range of options to choose from in the day’s lesson.
Know which type of mom you are and make sure the materials you select will allow you to work your way.
5. Keep it simple.
Always remember that you are tutoring a child, not managing a classroom. You probably do not need all of the extras many textbook publishers want to sell you.
You probably don’t need to worry about teaching a wide array of subjects, either. Younger children need to focus on learning the skills of reading, and then writing and arithmetic. When they have these skills down, they can practice them on the content subjects of science, history, music, and art.
You probably don’t need to worry about gaps in your child’s education. A lifelong learner will have the skills he needs to learn whatever he needs to learn. So spend your resources teaching these basic skills. Practice learning as a lifestyle.
Not only will keeping it simple save you money, but your children will appreciate not being overburdened.
“Teach the child and not the book.”
Ruth Beechick, A Biblical Home Education
After you have made a list of needed items, set it aside.
Wait to purchase until the gotta-have-this-now feeling passes. When you do go back and take that second look, you may find some of the glitz has already worn off, freeing you from purchasing something you probably don’t need.
102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
Start by determining what the children need to learn, decide what methods to use, set up a schedule — and THEN find a curriculum that “has the content and methodology that fits your agenda” and that you can use on your own timetable. Highly recommended! Read our full review.