Before making a curriculum selection, there are a few basic elements that can help expedite the decision-making process, including:
- Determine the child's learning style
- Decide which teaching style will be used
- Develop a budget for materials
For students who are auditory or visual learners, video and computer curriculums are an excellent choice. They offer just as many study topics as textbook curriculum in a fun, visually stimulating, and interactive format that students can benefit from.
Along with the videos or DVDs, this curriculum format includes teacher guides with step-by-step instructions for hands-on activities in each lesson. Computer curriculum offers a very independent, teacher-friendly format. Daily lessons, study questions, quizzes and tests are all graded by the program, and grades are recorded and maintained for easy reference. These formats of curriculum may be more expensive, but are equal to the learning quality of textbook curriculum.
For students who do well with reading and writing, and don't require constant supervision, textbook curriculum can serve them well. For ease of use, first-year homeschool parents may find the full curriculum packages the simplest format to begin with. They contain all the necessary materials, including textbooks, workbooks, quizzes and tests with answer keys, and, most importantly, a teacher's manual with built-in lesson plans.
One example of this type of curriculum is LifePacs from Alpha Omega. Each subject is a comprehensive, all-inclusive package that requires almost no preparation or organization from the parent, other than grading. Each study chapter has its own workbook that includes the reading material and study questions, and tests are provided at the end of each unit, with answer keys in the teacher's manual.
Another example of a curriculum with built-in lesson plans is the homeschool kits by Bob Jones University. Each subject includes a reading textbook with a separate workbook, and quiz and test sheets with separate answer keys. There are other selections, but the basic format is the same. These materials can be expensive, but well worth the cost for parents who need a more structured, self-contained curriculum in an easy-to-follow format.
For parents who want a more hands-on approach to teaching and have the time and energy required, full curriculum packages are not necessary. There are many subjects with materials that can be purchased separately. This could mean that they purchase the textbooks and create their own lesson plans. They may choose to make their own quizzes and tests, and would develop their own grading system if desired.
As the parent becomes more comfortable with home schooling, they can choose to mix and match the various formats based on the learning needs of the student, and the availability of the parent. Whereas a child may do well with reading and writing for science, they may need a video curriculum in history to keep them interested and excited. A parent may choose to teach English themselves, but would need a full package curriculum for math. Spelling may be more beneficial in a computer format.
Whatever the need, there are endless combinations. The key is for the parent to remember that there is freedom to experiment, but there is no need to feel disappointed if their first choice was not the best one.
A wise homeschool parent will continually learn and implement ways to not only produce the best educational results, but also improve the overall homeschool experience.