Why "What Curriculum Should I Buy?" Is Not the First Question You Should Ask


Why "What Curriculum Should I Buy?" is Not the 1st Question You Should Ask

“What curriculum do you recommend?” It’s a logical question when you have decided to homeschool or have been homeschooling for a while and looking to make some changes. It is such a common question that it is asked almost daily on homeschool discussion boards. You want to make sure that you are covering all the subject areas and providing your children with the best education possible. That is, after all, one of the main reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place.

I know that you want to jump in and learn how to DO this homeschool thing. It’s our natural tendency to figure out how things work and make it happen. But really, pausing right here in the midst of your questioning will serve you well all along the journey. There is so much more to choosing a curriculum than comparing scope and sequence, price, or reviews. The uncertainty you feel will keep your eyes and ears and heart open to finding the right fit and not simply settling for what others do.

So if “What curriculum should I buy?” is not the first question question to ask, what is? The question and its answers are simultaneously simple and sophisticated. The question is…

What do you believe about education and learning and life?

 Your answers…are as unique as your fingerprints.

You may not know what you believe, where to start, what to ask, or that there are even questions to consider. I had no idea about all the possibilities when we began our homeschooling journey about 12 years ago (and I hold graduate degrees in education!).

The good news is that you don’t need to know all the answers. In fact, you never will. I have spent the past 18 years learning about educational philosophy and I still feel like I have more to learn. I have applied much of what I have learned. Some of it has been somewhat successful and some has fallen raucously downhill. What has finally emerged is my own confidence that I will do what is right for my family (and each of my children) at any given time.

Rather than see this seemingly unorganized way of homeschooling as a hindrance to educating my children, I see it as an asset. With my eyes wide open, looking always for new insight into learning, I am more responsive to the educational needs of my children. So as my children and I grow, we call upon new ways of learning so that their education is truly tailor-made.

But how do you get from where you are, with all your questions and concerns, to a place of confidence? You keep asking questions. Always. To get you started, I made a list of questions for you. It is not a conclusive list, but rather, a compilation of the questions have been helpful to me and to those who I have coached through this gateway. There are links included and a downloadable worksheet to facilitate note-taking as you explore.

    • What do you believe to be true about learning?
    • What inspires learning in you? In your children?
    • What are your children’s primary learning styles? What are yours?
    • What are your strengths as an educator? What are you fears?
    • What approach would serve you best? School at home? A relaxed, organic approach? Something in between?
    • What educational philosophies appeal to you?
      • Charlotte Mason
      • Classical
      • Unschooling
      • Waldorf
      • Project-Based Learning
      • Montessori
      • Democratic Education
      • Outdoor Learning
      • Unit Study
      • Traditional
      • Eclectic

Every homeschooler, new or seasoned, benefits from learning about the educational philosophies. This investment will save you time, money, and maybe a little bit of sanity, maybe:-), in the long run.

Now that I’ve turned your brain upside down and scrambled up where you thought you were supposed to begin, I leave you with this. An anchor for the journey and the answer to all the questions.

No matter what you believe about learning or curriculum, the key to homeschooling is the relationships you build. The best place to start is by looking into your own heart and into the faces of your children.

Over the next month or so, I will be highlighting each educational philosophy, giving you a glimpse into the pros and cons, sharing some resources to further facilitate your learning, and my personal reflections on each one. To have all the posts of this series delivered to your inbox, simply subscribe here. Subscribe here >