Do you need a homeschool curriculum?

Do you need a homeschool curriculum?

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One question I received was whether a homeschool curriculum is needed. Yes, I think one is. How else will you know if what you are teaching is age appropriate or grade level? How will you know for sure that you are going in the right order?

Homeschool curriculum offer valued guidance

I know how to read, but I still bought curriculum to teach my children to read. I followed my teacher’s instruction manual because it told me how to present the material effectively and how much to do for each lesson each day. Left to my own resources, I might have felt the need to do more or less. Without the guidance, I wouldn’t have known if I was expecting too much. A curriculum with its teacher’s notes takes out that guess work. The notes also offer advice if you encounter struggles. I appreciated the knowledge stuffed into those guides. Kids don’t just learn to read in a few sittings. It takes little steps over the school year that you bridge together.

There’s more to math than just learning to recognize numbers and counting, also. In the attractive workbooks, the kids learn about sequences and patterns, and other stuff I wouldn’t have remembered or thought to bring up. As adults, we take such knowledge for granted, but it’s all new for young students.

I purchased Abeka, Saxon and Math U See curriculums for math, new and used.

Find deals at homeschool curriculum fairs

Attending a curriculum fair benefits homeschooling parents because you get to look inside the book. Yes, you can view some pages on the websites, but not as thoroughly as you can with the whole book. Advisors at the fairs answer your questions, but they can also ask you questions that you might have overlooked.

I found picking curriculum overwhelming at first and asked several other veteran moms for advice. Some of them used the same curriculum. I asked them what they liked and disliked.

I also attended fairs where used homeschool books were for sale and purchased books from retiring homeschool teachers. Some I liked. Some I didn’t, but since I didn’t spend a lot on them, it was okay.

We each have to explore what is out there—and there is a lot—to find what fits our family’s personality. If you find one that doesn’t work, try another, but a word of caution, here. Don’t skip around every year. Find one you like early on and stick with it because each publisher builds upon lessons sequentially and have different methods. It’s because we have our unique learning styles that there are so many options.

Invest in teacher’s manuals

Another question is whether you need to buy all the teacher’s manuals. No, you don’t. I didn’t buy teacher manuals (except for reading in kindergarten) until the fourth grade because the science and history were becoming more in-depth, and I wanted that comfort of having an established curriculum to pave my way. That year, I purchased all the teacher’s manuals so that was a huge investment, but I learned from using them how to plan my own lessons based on what they did. After that, I got the hang of it and wrote most of my own lesson plans for each subject.

homeschool curriculum
I chose Abeka as my main curriculum.

Again, it is good to look at them to decide what works for you. For the early grades, I took the number of lessons divided by the number of school days to determine how much to assign daily. I could explain those lessons without a manual, but if your comfort level is different, by all means, get one. Peace of mind is half the battle.

Although I have a B.A. in English with a writing emphasis and print journalism, I still bought the teacher’s manuals for English in seventh and eighth grades. Education is so important. I didn’t want to mess anything up by explaining in a confusing way. The workload is heavier the older the kids get, so having the lessons laid out already was helpful to me. Unfortunately, we don’t remember everything we learned or how.

Invest in answer keys

Answer keys are invaluable. They are a must so you don’t have to go looking up all the answers! Your time is packed enough. Upper math answer keys explain how a problem is solved also, which I found a God’s send countless times.

Books get expensive, but thankfully, if you have several children, you can reuse most books. I purchased new grammar workbooks each year, but otherwise, after third grade, I only had to buy a subject text once.

I’ll talk more about homeschool curriculum in future blogs. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments or send them to me from the contact page. I hope other veteran moms will join our discussions.

Happy homeschooling, friends!

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