Now that you have an idea of how you want to teach your children, it’s time to find the best curriculum for your family. Over the years I’ve found choosing a curriculum for your family is a rather personal activity. Much depends upon your teaching style.
That being said, I think it’s fair to say you may have up to 4 divisions in your homeschool: morning time activities, combined studies, individual studies, and independent learning.
Choosing curriculum in the well-run homeschool.
Morning Time Activities
When looking for a morning time curriculum, keep an eye out for material that’s easily used by a wide variety of ages or at least the ages you’re teaching. For instance, A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels is easily done by children of all ages from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Many poems can be memorized and enjoyed by all the children in the house. This month my kids and I are memorizing Shakespeare’s Witches Chant from Macbeth. It seemed appropriate for Halloween, and my teenage son is enjoying the memorization just as much as his little sister.
Good children’s classics or great literature can also be enjoyed by a variety of ages. Seriously, do you ever outgrow the Narnia series?
Choose Curriculum for Combined Studies
Combined studies are different from morning time or group activities. In my house, the kids are studying similar history and geography topics. I can’t say the same because the focus for my littles is very different from the focus for my dialectic and rhetoric kids.
But the kids head off to read their assignments by themselves. They do their own mapwork, write up their president’s page, and complete writing assignments individually. But we’re all working off the same curriculum and topics.
Tapestry of Grace, the curriculum I use, allows me to combine the students while still allowing them to work individually or in small groups.
When you’re picking out material for combined studies, look for programs that make combining easy. There are several history curricula that give assignments for kids from K through 12th grade. Some science curricula are graded for children from 1st through 8th grade.
Textbooks designed for one-room schoolhouses such as Rod & Staff have the chapters arranged in a similar pattern every year. The kids are working through sentences, nouns, then verbs in a similar pattern making it easy to jump from grade to grade.
Individual Studies and Independent Learning
Not all subjects are easily combined. This year my children are separated for science. Quite frankly it was easier than trying to combine the children. Math, spelling, and grammar are also easier taught individually than in a group. L
When you’re looking at individual studies, look for material that makes your life as a teacher easier. Is the book written to the kids so they can read the material for themselves? Pick up the materials you need.
For instance, Art Reed offers video lectures to go along with the upper-level Saxon Math textbooks. We’ve picked these up and require the children to watch them before each lesson. My 13yo son laughingly commented that Art Reed’s comments about, “I know you’re thinking….” are usually spot on. He is thinking exactly that.
Begin your individual studies by sitting down with each child for 30 minutes to tutor them. Teach your children how to learn independently. In my house, individual studies morph into independent studies, so I pick my curriculum accordingly.
Look for individual materials which first and foremost get the job done, and secondly is easy to use. Also, consider using the same curriculum for each child. You won’t have to learn how to use a new program with each child.
Learn to adapt the programs which are easy for you to use to the needs of each child.
Read more posts in the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool series!