Take {Some of} the Work Out of Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

Take {Some of} the Work Out of Choosing Homeschool Curriculum - tips for choosing products right for you and your family | RaisingArrows.netI’m going into my 13th year of homeschooling.  I’d like to say it just gets easier and easier, but that would be a lie.  This homeschool mom gig is hard work.

But I love it!
(Read my post on What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Homeschooling)

One thing that makes it hard work is the planning and agonizing over what curriculum to use…every year.  Yes, every year.

Sure, there are some subjects that you can easily figure out what you’ll be using.  Perhaps you use a totally boxed curriculum and never stray from that, but there’s a chance even with a boxed curriculum, you’ll want to add something else in because frankly, there is SOOOO much good stuff out there these days.

Let me get one thing straight before we go any further with this discussion:

Your homeschool curriculum won’t save your children,
so your hard work isn’t about finding the perfect curriculum.

Even so, I find myself torn every year as I learn about new homeschool books, listen to friends talk about what they use, go to conventions, and scour sales like the Build Your Bundle Sale going on this week.

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

It’s hard work deciding what really fits your family, what really fits your budget, and what really fits in your bookshelves!  (The good thing about the sale above is that it is digital and your don’t have to fit them in your bookshelves!)

Today, I want to give you a few tips on how to go about choosing curriculum that works for you and your family.  These tips won’t take all the hard work out of your homeschool planning, but they will help!

Let me start by walking you through some of the sales in the Build Your Bundle sale that caught my eye so you can see how I make curriculum choices that work for our homeschool.

The first bundle that jumped out at me was the Middle School Bundle:
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

The main reason it caught my eye is because we own one of the A Child’s Geography and it is PHENOMENAL!  I was so excited to see all of them in this set!  There were a lot of other great resources in there as well, but my eye automatically went to those books.

So, RULE #1 – If something has worked in the past and was enjoyed by everyone – DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL!  Chances are one product from a publisher/series you love will equal several well-loved products from them.

Another Bundle that caught my eye was the Charlotte Mason Bundle:
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Deep in my heart, I WANT to be a Charlotte Mason homeschool mom.  Ever since Pocketful of Pinecones and Lessons At Blackberry Inn by Karen Andreola made my heart sing, I’ve been fascinated by a Charlotte Mason education.  But, alas, I don’t seem to be able to implement a lot of it.  {I talk about how you can tweak CM for the large family in my ebook Large Family Homeschooling – which just so happens to be in the Mom Bundle of this sale along with my scheduling ebook. ;) )  I need a lot of hand-holding with Charlotte Mason.  I need materials that don’t assume I know what I’m doing.

So, Rule #2 is - Make sure the materials you buy HELP you accomplish the homeschooling goals you have rather than HINDER.

Now, let’s talk homeschool conventions and talking with friends for a moment…

Rule #3 – Listen and learn, but give yourself time to research and pray.

In other words, DON’T BE IMPULSIVE!  There’s time to make a decision.  I promise.  Yes, the sale will end.  Yes, the convention will be over.  Yes, you would like to get free shipping from Rainbow Resource.  But good decisions need a little breathing room – even if you load up your online cart and let it set overnight to “sleep on it.”  (That’s what I’m doing ;) )

Rule #4 – Overanalyzing will make you crazy.  As my father-in-law likes to say,

“There’s no such thing as a good deal.  Just some deals are better than others.”

Agonizing over curriculum will make you a crazy person.  You are never going to find the perfect curriculum, so do what you need to do to prepare, but then just make a decision and go with it.  If it doesn’t work, it’s ok…no, really, it is.  I can tell you all sorts of stories of curriculum that worked for us, then didn’t work for us, and then a few kids later, worked again!  It will get used or you can sell it or you can bless someone else with it.  It’s not all a big loss.

I think a few of you might need a big ((HUG)) right about now. :)

And finally, Rule #5 – Be mom.  I cannot preach this enough.  You are mom first, homeschool mom second.  Look for curriculum that helps you be mom.  You’re not looking for stuff that meets arbitrary standards or looks good on paper.  You need things that meet God’s standard – which is that you LOVE YOUR CHILDREN.  Choose things that make your heart sing.  Choose things that speak to your children.  Choose things that educate without ripping out the essence of childhood.  You will never be sorry when you choose to be mom.

Now, go and have a great homeschool year!

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16 thoughts on “Take {Some of} the Work Out of Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

  1. Thank you SOOOO much Amy. Everything that you said was like a getting a huge hug! I needed this. I awoke this morning thinking about the upcoming school year as summer is tapering off……analyzing, over-analyzing, questioning, fretting, and worrying!! as far as curriculum is concerned with my 13- almost-14 year-old daughter :) :) Thankful that God has sent someone like you to encourage, inspire, advise, and just simply be a friend to moms like myself. I knew what I was doing was not right, as you have told me before, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” so-to-speak…but we as moms tend to compare and question and over-analyze everything, don’t we?!? Thankful that God placed you and your blog in my life~on this journey~homeschooling mom of one~and mom of two wonderful teengers! You have given me a clear mind with which to begin my day and confidence that I can and will make the best decisions for my kids as long as I just remember to just “be-a-mom-first.” :) Blessings back to you; I hope your day is as wonderful as you have made mine!!!

  2. Thanks Amy! I have been agonizing for months over a new curriculum. I was worried that maybe we would be in over our head with this one and I would have to be more of a teacher than mom. Just yesterday I decided that if I had to agonize that much over it that God was probably trying to tell me something. I am going back to what we know and love and adding in a few new things and that feels much more doable. I am thankful for your timely encouragement today as I make my final choices.

  3. as a homeschool mom who has been on this trail since fall of ’89 (yep, 25 years and counting!), your words are spot-on. thanks for the encouragement and the much-needed [cyber] hug. entering 6th grade this year with our youngest daughter, so 7 years left in our homeschool journey…. i’m still learning!!

  4. Nice pep talk Amy! I’m getting stoked about our first official year of homeschooling! Thank You. Jennifer

  5. Thanks for this! I’m afraid I’ve been in semi-panic mode lately. My oldest daughter will start 9th grade this year and so I’ll be homeschooling a high schooler for the first time. It has definitely given me the jitters! There’s the pressure of squeezing in all the necessary credits and being sure to keep careful transcripts, and I’ve worried about some of my curriculum choices and how well she’ll do working more independently than in the past. Not to mention my concerns over the younger kids, one of whom we know now is dyslexic!

    I shouldn’t worry so much, but I do. Trusting your instincts isn’t always easy, nor is accepting the fact that things won’t be and CAN’T be perfect. I get a lot of encouragement from people like you who are homeschooling veterans! Sometimes I guess I just need a little reminder to take my time, breathe deeply, and relax. :)

    • I remember the year Blake went into 9th – I was a mess! You relax and find your groove (with only a few stressful moments in between ;) ) Enjoy!

  6. thanks for all your great homeschooling encouragement! At first I saw all the sales/ideas/books at the beginning of the post and my blood pressure went up!!! so many choices! And then you reminded me exactly what I already knew- God knows best what will work for us and so like every year I depend on him to help me make right choices and send along the right books, etc. in my path and knowing they are right- such peace when I rely on Him!
    The kids love to learn and you are so right about all your points- I DO learn so much- I only wish I could teach the kids more- there’s so much to learn. But then I know that having them home as a family and building character and Godliness and loving God and each other are the most important things I can teach them.
    And somehow they do learn a ton of stuff! Even though we have our own unique approach and schedule that fits us.
    Ahhh. my blood pressure has returned to normal. Now that I remember that we have more success when we enjoy what we are doing and trust God to guide us.
    Have a super week Amy!

    • I am forever telling the kids there is no way I’m going to be able to teach them all the things I want to! Love homeschooling because I learn so much right along with them too!

  7. I’ve been homeschooling for 5 years. 4 of those I used Seton Home Study. 1 of them, I chose my own through a Catholic Academy we enrolled in. For our 6th year, when we do 5th grade and Kindergarten, I’m thinking of trying the curriculum offered by Catholic Heritage Curricula. I like the History and Science books they offer for 5th grade – compared to Seton’s system of teaching History. From the looks of it, CHC is more aligned with our CA standards or way of teaching History. Also, CHC’s Kindergarten Phonics program looks pretty comprehensive – which I think is great because I know a good foundation in Phonics is a must in the early grades! Anyway, have you heard anything about CHC and their curriculum? I’d love to know!

  8. I needed to read this! I have been panicking a little, wondering if I got the right curriculum for this year. Rolling around in my head what I now wish I would’ve gotten instead because it seems like a better choice. I did feel rushed because of the sale! But, its OK. and I needed to hear that :)

  9. My nieces and nephews has been homeschooling for seven years now and is using curriculum from AOP every year. It is so nice to know that AOP is there with so many great products to make mom’s life easier. You might want to try them, this is their website: http://HomeschoolingOption.com/

    Anne