Search
  • Admin

How to Identify the Right Curriculum


Choosing a homeschool curriculum can be a fun and rewarding experience. In fact, many parents tell us that attending curriculum sales and browsing homeschool catalogs are some of their favorite things to do.


But, curriculum shopping doesn't come easy to everyone. Especially for new homeschoolers, finding resources can feel daunting, even impossible to accomplish on their own. Not knowing what to look for or which questions to ask, searching and shopping can quickly become overwhelming. What should be a simple task can make even the most well-intentioned parents question their ability to homeschool at all.


The Importance of Having a Plan


We understand the frustration of finding a product when you don't know exactly what you're looking for. We were all new homeschoolers once, wondering if we'd made the right choices, and questioning our decisions along the way.


To help ease the curriculum selection process for new families, we've developed a way to identify which products could be exactly right for their students, weeding out all the others. We know how random shopping can lead to over buying, impulsive decision making, and unwanted spending. That's why we recommend planning in a way that helps families sort through the universe of products, identifying only the ones worthy of a second look and their spending dollars.


Creating a Curriculum Profile

In a moment, you find a list of questions to help you create a unique "curriculum profile". The profile is nothing more than a list of the characteristics of your ideal curriculum. Characteristics of your ideal curriculum might include the format, the style, or the specific price point you're looking for. After answering the questions and creating the profile, you'll have a good idea of the type of curriculum you should begin looking for.


Creating a curriculum profile could happen once at the beginning of the year, or again later in the year if the current materials just aren't working out. Ideally, parents would create a different curriculum profile for every child's homeschool needs, since learners are all different. Having a profile is incredibly time saving, leading you only to the choices most likely to meet your needs, filtering out unwanted products before they ever waste your valuable headspace. It gives confidence in knowing you've thought carefully about issues that matter to you and your learner, and that you've done your very best to find a product that best address those needs.


 

Grab a pencil and paper, and take notes while reading the curriculum profile questions, below. If you prefer, you can also print the questions here instead.

 

Questions for Creating a Curriculum Profile


(Question 1 is required. For the best results, answer as many of the other questions as you can, too.)


1. Are you a Florida homeschooler?


(Explanation: If you're a homeschooler, you have the freedom to choose your student's curriculum. If, however, your student is enrolled in a school where a specific curriculum is required, end this questionnaire now, and speak to your child's teacher or guidance counselor instead.)


2. Are you homeschooling temporarily or long term?


(Explanation: Sometimes, temporary homeschoolers prefer to find products that resemble the standards-based K-12 programs used in schools, so their students can return to the classroom quickly and uninterrupted. Long term homeschoolers typically prefer choosing from the many products and methods specifically designed for homeschoolers instead. The choice is yours, but it's an important issue to consider when choosing a homeschool curriculum.)


3. Are you searching for a curriculum that teaches from a particular belief system, religion or worldview? If so, which one?


(Explanation: Homeschool materials are often classified by "worldview" using terms like secular, non-sectarian, religious, religion-neutral, and others to describe them. If a particular worldview is important to you, this is a great thing to figure out early, as this question alone will filter out thousands of products you're probably not going to be interested in.)


4. What subject is this material going to be used for?


(Explanation: Are you looking for curriculum to teach a full year of math? A year of history? A semester of biology? How to speak Japanese? Or, are you looking for an entire curriculum that teaches all the subjects that are typically required in a certain grade, such as all of 3rd grade, or all of 11th grade for an entire year?)


5. What age, grade or skill level is the student you're shopping for?


(Explanation: Jot down which grade level you're looking for. Or, if you're looking for a curriculum that could work for multiple students of different ages, taught separately or in a group, jot that in your notes, too.)


6. What's your price range or budget?


(Explanation: Instructional materials can range from free or very inexpensive, to needing to buy very expensive sets of books and other materials throughout the year. If cost is a limiting factor, decide approximately the price range, and write it down. Use the budget as a guide when sorting through which materials to consider purchasing, and which are clearly beyond the price range.)


7. Is the curriculum going to be used for a student with unique needs or abilities? Which ones?


(Explanation: If it is important that the curriculum was designed for, or has been proven to work successfully with, children with specific abilities, write this in your notes. If there is a specific style, official designation, accredited body or other characteristic that would make the curriculum more appealing or trustworthy to you; or if the product must be approved for scholarship funding eligibility, note that, too.)


8. How much parental involvement or supervision are you able to provide the student on a regular basis?


(Explanation: Should the student be able to complete the program entirely, or almost entirely on their own, without supervision? Or, is a large amount of parental involvement required on a daily/regular basis? Is there much prep time needed before lessons, and is that going to be the responsibility of the parent, or the student?)


9. What style or format would you prefer the product came in? If technology, what platform should it run on?


(Explanation: Are you mostly interested in physical books or e-books? Apps and subscriptions? Videos and podcasts? Interactive online classes? Studying with hands-on opportunities? Learning outside in nature? Things your students can figure out on their own? Lessons they can read on a Chromebook or tablet? On a laptop or PC? )


10. Are you looking for a complete kit where everything is included, or is it okay to buy additional books or supplies throughout the year?


(Explanation: Some families prefer a product that is "open and go" where everything from lesson plans, daily instructions, and all the supplies are provided. Others are fine with having to buy additional resources or doing extra things, like encyclopedias or children's books, science or art supplies, or going to places and doing things in the community as additional program requirements.)


Additional Considerations


While the answers to the first 10 questions are often enough to begin searching for products, we've included some bonus questions to further help define the best curriculum for each particular need. Though these questions may be irrelevant to some, they are essential for others, so we are including them here:


11. Does the product have resale value, and can I recoup some of the purchase price, even if the item isn't in perfect condition?


12. Do I need a product/system that is portable, so my child can access it anywhere, take it with them, or carry it around?


13. Are we the kind of learners who prefer to jump around, branch off, and skip uninteresting or irrelevant sections of a book or curriculum? Can I find a product that allows us to do that without it being confusing for the student?


14. Is it important for me to have an answer key so I can grade assignments myself (or my student may do it); or, is it better to find a product with an automatic grading system that gives me a printed grade report?


15. Is there additional help from the company or manufacturer in case my student has difficulty completing the assignments? Are there any supplemental or services we can access if the assignments are just too hard?


16. Is the product accredited in some way, or approved by some governing body that is important to me? (Not required for Florida homeschoolers, but important to some parents.)


17. Will there be adequate evidence of completion of this curriculum for the Florida homeschool portfolio, or will it be a struggle to print, photograph or otherwise keep track of assignments throughout the year?


18. I'm worried my student might not listen to me or enjoy having me as a teacher, so can I find a class taught by someone else instead?


19. I want my child to have peer interaction, either live or on a message board, or some other way for my student to meet with teachers or students who are also studying the same thing.


20. Do I need an online placement tool or some way of deciding which level of the curriculum is right for my student? I prefer a curriculum or company that can guide me to finding the right product for my student.


Finally


Will this process always result in finding the perfect homeschool curriculum for every student? Unfortunately, we cannot make this guarantee. But, because today's homeschoolers have access to thousands of curriculum products, chances are, many will closely match the characteristics identified in the curriculum profile, and probably do a very good job. Knowing exactly what to look for makes the process immeasurably easy, saving so much time and frustration, it's a win by any definition.


And, lastly, Florida homeschoolers are not required to purchase or use a pre-written curriculum at all, if that is not their desire. This method is especially helpful for families who prefer to use the curriculum method to direct their homeschools. If not interested in curriculum, try to apply these ideas to other educational materials (such as toys and games, tickets and passes, kits and supplies) you purchase, as they could be helpful, too!


 

To print only the questions, select/print below


1. Are you a Florida homeschooler?

2. Are you homeschooling temporarily or long term?

3. Are you searching for a curriculum that teaches from a particular belief system, religion or worldview? If so, which one?

4. What subject is this material going to be used for?

5. What age, grade or skill level is the student you're shopping for?

6. What's your price range or budget?

7. Is the curriculum going to be used for a student with unique needs or abilities? Which ones?

8. How much parental involvement or supervision are you able to provide the student on a regular basis?

9. What style or format would you prefer the product came in? If technology, what platform should it run on?

10. Are you looking for a complete kit where everything is included, or is it okay to buy additional books or supplies throughout the year?

11. Does the product have resale value, and can I recoup some of the purchase price, even if the item isn't in perfect condition?

12. Do I need a product/system that is portable, so my child can access it anywhere, take it with them, or carry it around?

13. Are we the kind of learners who prefer to jump around, branch off, and skip uninteresting or irrelevant sections of a book or curriculum? Can I find a product that allows us to do that without it being confusing for the student?

14. Is it important for me to have an answer key so I can grade assignments myself (or my student may do it); or, is it better to find a product with an automatic grading system that gives me a printed grade report?

15. Is there additional help from the company or manufacturer in case my student has difficulty completing the assignments? Are there any supplemental or services we can access if the assignments are just too hard?

16. Is the product accredited in some way, or approved by some governing body that is important to me? (Not required for Florida homeschoolers, but important to some parents.)

17. Will there be adequate evidence of completion of this curriculum for the Florida homeschool portfolio, or will it be a struggle to print, photograph or otherwise keep track of assignments throughout the year?

18. I'm worried my student might not listen to me or enjoy having me as a teacher, so can I find a class taught by someone else instead?

19. I want my child to have peer interaction, either live or on a message board, or some other way for my student to meet with teachers or students who are also studying the same thing.

20. Do I need an online placement tool or some way of deciding which level of the curriculum is right for my student? I prefer a curriculum or company that can guide me to finding the right product for my student.

© Florida Homeschool Association, 2021

159 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All