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How do homeschooling parents know what to teach their children?

Updated on June 3, 2008

I learned a long time ago that the easist way to start a fight in Texas was to go to any street corner and just say loudly enough, "I have the best chili recipe in the world."

By the end of fifteen minutes you will have a full fledged riot going on, since everyone in Texas has the best chili recipe in the world and is willing to defend it till death.

Oddly enough, it is almost exactly the same with homeschoolers. We tend to believe that the way we do it is the absolute best, and Heaven help those who would disagree with us.

So here are my thoughts on the subject of picking curriculum for your children - realizing that they are not my children.

My credentials? Three successful adult children who were all homeschooled from K-12.

Here are the points to consider...

  • What do you want to accomplish thru homeschooling? Be honest because some curriculum is better than others for differing goals. Is religion important to you. Then you need to consider publishers who think that is important to them also. If not... then you might want to avoid those publishers.
  • Do you want to set the homeschool up as a "school" complete with a dedicated space, and a school atmosphere complete with schedules and periods. Some curriculum are more structured and enable you to do that a little better. If you are more willing to let the children determine when, where, and what they study then you'll want to ensure you pick one that that has maximum flexibility.
  • How best does the primary teacher relate to people and how best are the students at learning? There are three basic "learning styles" but not surprisingly there are also three basic teaching styles that go along with the learning styles. The problem is that when you have one teaching style trying to teach a differing learning style there are going to have to be some compromises on both sides or there will be real problems.

Here is a quick and easy way to find out your learning/teaching style.

It is obviously best to find a curriculum that fits best with the teaching/learning style of the homeschool.

I have always recommended that parents considering homeschooling start with one of the "packaged" curriculum from a publisher such as A BEKA or one of the others. They can provide a complete "1st Grade" all the way thru high school. Makes it very easy to make the choices since the choices are very limited.

Going to a homeschool curriculum fair cannot be beat. As an alternative, here's a place that has a number of reviews from parents just like us.

It is fairly normal to see a progression over a few years. As parents become more and more experienced with homeschooling they tend to not focus as tightly on the "recommended" curriculum from the publisher but become much more willing to "roll their own" so to speak.

I also highly recommend that parents take advantage of the public library. Our county library is right down the road and the resources it offered in the way of videos and DVDs was tremendous. Whatever the subject, and age range, there was usually a very well produced video that helped to flesh out the subject and make it come alive. For instance, we were able to watch virtually all of Shakespeare plays done by professional English actors. Combined with a basic book on the author and his works it became a very fulfilling way to satisfy a literature semester. And we parents had fun also.

Again... everyone is going to have their opinion, and they'll usually think that is the only opinion that God should have given everyone. But keep your options open, keep the focus on what works best for your family, and do enjoy the company and companionship of other homeschooling families.


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