Homeschool Convention -- "Choosing The Right Curriculum"

Saturday, 8:30 AM, "Choosing The Right Curriculum For Your Family" with Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest Publishing Company.

6 steps of advanced thought and preparation for buying curriculum:

1.  Know you and your child's learning styles.  We all learn through certain "modalities".  We all learn through our eyes (visual), our ears (auditory), and our hands (kinesthetics).  However, we as individuals tend to favor one or 2 way(s) of learning over the other(s).  Knowing how you learn will you help you be a better teacher to your children; knowing how your children learn will help you pick out the best curriculum for them because all curricula choices are skewed towards one or two learning styles, regardless of what it might claim.  For help in figuring out your younger child's learning styles, Terri recommends you visit this link.  For figuring out your own learning style or your older child's, she recommends this link.  (NOTE:  I have not visited either of these links yet.)

2.  Know your philosophy of education, what you think education should be.  There are 5 mainstream philosophies to homeschool:  1) unschooling (also referred to as "child-led", "organic", etc.), 2) "school-at-home", 3) unit studies, 4) classical, and 5) Charlotte Mason.  (NOTE: For more info about these philosophies, please visit this website.  This website offers more than these 5 styles listed here; I think Mrs. Johnson was just trying to give an overview, not a comprehensive list.)

3.  Consider your finances and set a budget!  Make a point to buy the best tools you can afford.  That might not include "top-of-the-line" curriculum but that's okay (it's also okay if it does include that!).  Bear in mind that the more a resource costs, the less teacher prep it will require.

4.  Browse catalogs and/or visit Cathy Duff's website www.CathyDuffyReviews.com.  You can also check out Ms. Duffy's "Top 100 Picks For Homeschool Curriculum" from Columbus libraries.  1 good and bad note on that book -- the good is that it includes testing for your and your child's learning styles and then matches each curriculum with the learning styles.  The bad?  The book was written several years ago and a lot has happened in homeschool since then.  I think her website includes an updated list but I'm not 100% sure.  Some catalogs Mrs. Johnson recommended are "Sonlight", "Vision Forum", "Veritas", "Timber Doodle", "Rainbow Resource", and "Christian Book Distributors".

5.  Read curricula reviews.  Again, check out Cathy Duffy's site as well as Amazon, "Eclectic Homeschool Reviews" and other homeschool magazines.  Google it!  :)

6.  Once you've chose a curriculum, bear in mind there are many places to purchase it, some more expensive than others.  You can purchase directly from the publisher, from a discounter such as CBD or Rainbow, from a place like Amazon or other sort of bookstore, from homeschool conventions, and from used book places such as eBay.  Pros/cons -- the publisher is going to have the highest everyday price but will often have the best sales; a discounter/Amazon will have the lowest everyday prices but rarely have sales although they may offer free shipping; at a homeschool convention, you can pick up the item and actually browse through it and the vendors tend to offer sales at conventions -- however, remember you'll have to either go back at the last minute and actually purchase the items OR lug them around with you; browsing through used places will be more time consuming.


Other key points:

*It's okay to make curricula mistakes!  You are not married to a curriculum once you've purchased it.  If you discover it's not working for you, there could be a 30/60/90 day money-back guarantee or you could consider selling it as used.  And move on to picking a new one.

*Look on-line!  You can often download and print samples.

*Have "perfect" curricula (which is truly not possible) is not a guarantee for a great or even good homeschool.  Homeschooling is about what YOU put into it.

*Homeschooling should be goal-oriented, not curriculum driven.  You should set goals each quarter/semester/year and try to accomplish them.

*June is the best time to not only list used curriculum you might have to sale but also to purchase used curriculum.


Some curriculum choices Mrs. Johnson recommends that she's tried during her 13 years as a homeschooler:

Phonics -- "Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons"

Handwriting -- "Handwriting Without Tears"

Math -- "Singapore" (a more "mental" curriculum), "Math-U-See" (more visual), and "Teaching Textbooks" for pre-algebra & up

Spelling -- "Spelling Power" and "All About Spelling"

Grammar -- "Rod And Staff"

Writing -- "Write Shop" and "Adventure Novel" (high school level)

Geography -- "Expedition Earth", "Map Trek", "A Child's Geography", and "The Star Spangled State Book"

History -- "Story Of The World", "Tapestry Of Grace", "Sonlight", and "Biblioplan" (sp?)


bauerpower said...

thanks for typing up this sessions notes for me :)

Jenni said...

Sounds like a fantastic workshop! I have all of those catalogs and have used a lot of these resources you have listed. Some very good, some mediocre, and some not so good. It sounds like you had a fantastic time and are seriously preparing for the coming school year. YAY!!