Monday, August 14, 2017

Choosing Curriculum -

As summer comes to a close, most of us are gearing up to begin a new school year. By this time of year, I have usually made my decisions about what curriculum we will be using in our school.

My favorite way to choose curricula over the past many years has been to be a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew and wait to see what goodies will come my way! Really, though, most of you want to know in August what you will teach during the September to June school year.
In my experience, the best place to start is to decide what subjects you and your students need to cover during the upcoming school year. In my state, the subjects that are required for Grades K - 8 are as follows:
  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Art
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Health
commiserate with what their peers cover in public school. For folks who research that last sentence, we learn the students in public school cover the first four subjects every year, but the other four are not always covered. Home schoolers usually just teach to all eight subjects rather than figure out that Grades K through 5th aren't doing Health, etc.

For parents of high school students, there are two guides the parent wants to consider when crafting their course plans: what the state (Maryland for me) requires for public school students to graduate (home school students are not required to follow this schedule) and what colleges want students to study in high school in order to meet minimum requirements to be accepted into college.
That sounds confusing, so I'll explain it briefly.
  1. English is easy: Maryland and colleges both require four years of English of some sort
  2. Math: Maryland requires three years of Math, one of which must be taken in senior year; most colleges want to see four years of Math and want to see at least Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2, with hopefully Trigonometry or Pre-Calculus
  3. Science: Maryland requires three Science credits, two of which must be lab Science; many colleges are asking for three lab Science credits
Basically, I like to advise folks to try to teach to college entrance requirements. Even if your student doesn't plan to go to college, he may change his mind later. Of course he might be able to start at community college if minimums are not met.

Choosing the curriculum to use is always an adventure. Particularly in the primary grades, you decide by subject if and what curriculum you will use. Some are more structured than others. For families with multiple students, I like to recommend using the same material for everyone whenever possible! 
So for English I had a list of literature for the year and would read aloud to all. My girls liked to knit and crochet while listening, and my son played with Legos or did loom knitting. Puzzles were also popular. We also used a certain amount (very minimal) to cover grammar and writing and punctuation.

I liked the same method for History. We tended toward Tapestry of Grace some years, and later years we liked Ambleside Online. There are many others -- Sonlight, Mystery of History, My Father's World are a few. I like Tapestry and Ambleside because they can be used not only for all ages but also for many to all subjects.
For Science I often used Apologia or Bob Jones. For Math I started with Modern Curriculum and then used Saxon, Horizon's and Bob Jones. There are many good Math programs, and often it is more a matter of which program is the best fit for a particular student!

I usually did not curriculum for art, music, physical education and health. Investing in a school planner was key for me, though. To put "Art" or "Music" on the plan for Tuesday would make it happen, rather than getting to the end of the year only to find I had neglected a required subject all year long.
We often got our physical activity with our 4-H group or Boy Scout activities. Health as well.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Other Homeschool Review Crew members are also blogging about curriculum today. To see more curriculum Blog Hop posts, click the button below.

Click to read Crew Reviews


  1. I LOVE your pics of your homeschool room! I'm so tired of perfectly decorated rooms that look like they're never used! Your house looks like people actually LEARN in it : )

    1. So, um... yeah, ...those ARE my clean pictures! Life gets messy! ;-)