How to Find the Best Homeschool Curriculum

Today I want to tackle one of the biggest fallacies in the homeschool world: The “perfect” curriculum. Obviously, perfect doesn’t exist. There are pro’s and con’s for every teaching method and curriculum. But I believe there is one thing. One magic trick, if you will, that will put the endless quest for the perfect homeschool curriculum to rest. And I think it may NOT be what you’re expecting. 

Ahhh, yes… The quest for the “perfect curriculum”… It starts off seemingly simple. “I want to find the best curriculum for my kids,” I hear new homeschool moms say. We all have conversations (ad nauseam) about learning styles and teaching styles and which publisher has a curriculum that meets the needs of those specifics. The options are innumerable and overwhelming! Every publisher, influencer and blogger is telling you theirs is the best! “XYZ Curriculum will teach for every learning style!” “It’s so easy! Just open and go! You hardly have to teach a thing!” “It’s so thorough. Your kids will be geniuses and Yale will be begging them to apply!” or my favorite sales pitch, “If you don’t use this curriculum, your children’s salvation will be at stake.” Wait, WHAT?!?! 

Stop the INSANITY!

As you may have guessed (or already well know), there is no perfect homeschool curriculum. You may be thinking, “Well, of course not, but there’s got to be one that works best for my family… and here comes the sales pitch.” And there you would be incorrect. Well, partly. I’m not going to try to convince you of my favorite curriculum, why it works, pros and cons, and how it will rescue your homeschool from utter disaster. Newsflash: A curriculum can’t do that. 

In fact, I’m not even going to share with you what our family uses in this post because it is, honestly, irrelevant. I will, however, agree that there may be a homeschool curriculum that works best for your family. Although, there is the option of no curriculum at all…But don’t panic, we’ll get to that later, in another post! 

The point I’m getting at is that the question, “Which homeschool curriculum should I use?” is actually not the first question to ask. There are two simple but profound questions that should come before you open a single book or listen to another curriculum review or go to any info meetings. 

Pause and celebrate your win!

You did the heroic thing and decided to educate your children at home. Congratulations! Celebrate that for just a moment! 

homeschool happy dance
Homeschool Happy Dance

The world and society would have you believe that the government knows how to raise your children better than you. But you fought that dragon and said, “I don’t think so!” Good for you!!

But now that their education is in your hands, you’re wondering what to do with this immense responsibility. “Will they be able to get into college? What if they have gaps in their education? How will I teach high school? What credits do I need to track?” Slow down. First of all, you’re not alone. We’ve all had these same fears. Every. Single. Homeschool mom. Trust me. (Can I get an “Amen” from the back?!) 

But here’s the deal: none of those things matter.

Not really. Many colleges seek out homeschoolers. (There’ll probably be a future post on that alone.) There are gaps in every curriculum. You’ll cross the high school bridge when you get there (It’s really not as complicated as your fears and mother-in-law are telling you). The point is, you will figure a lot of this stuff out as you go. It’s a lot like parenting…(insert ironic chuckle) If you make a mistake or miss something in their education, you’ll learn better methods and do better going forward. Think of it as a learning experience (a novel idea, I know).

You don’t have to have all the answers to give your children a good educational experience. 

Seriously. You really don’t have to have all the answers. Do you think traditionally educated teachers have all the answers? No. No they don’t. If your kid asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, what do most of us do? We say, “Gosh, honey, that’s a great question. I don’t know. Let’s go look that up.” Boom! Homeschool moms for the win!

Question 1: Why did you decide to homeschool?

Now that you’ve set aside all the homeschool fears and anxiety, you have to dig deep and remember WHY you decided to homeschool in the first place. It will help you stay the course when things get tough. Your why may be unique to you. It is probably multi-faceted. Spend a little time soul searching and get super clear on why you decided to homeschool your children. Pray about it, marinade on it, talk to your spouse (if you have one) and write it down. It may be a long list or it may be a single sentence. To get you started, here are some of the most common reasons many people choose to homeschool according to current statistics: 

  • Public school didn’t work for my kid(s) 
  • Concern about the current public school environment
  • To address special needs one on one
  • To avoid bullying
  • Recognize the parent is the most loving teacher
  • General dissatisfaction with traditional school options
  • Desire to provide religious or moral instruction
  • Want to provide alternative ways of learning

This list could go on and on… To be honest, the longer I homeschool my own kids and the more other homeschool parents I connect with, the more I’m convinced that homeschooling is the solution to all of the above. The point of this exercise, though, is to find your unique driving force for the decision to homeschool your kids.

Finding your why not only gives you direction in how to homeschool, but will also be the motivational fortitude to stick it out when things get tough.

Question 2: What is your homeschool goal?

This is about the destination of the education journey for your family. While the first question is about the starting line for your homeschool, this is about the finish line. Some parents want to be sure their children are fully prepared to get into the best universities. Others want their children to develop a skill or trade. Yet others are just trying it out one year at a time. As far as these goals go, there’s really no wrong answer. However, I’d like to propose that you dig even deeper than the basic, educational outcome of homeschooling. Beyond the cup of knowledge your children will be holding when they cross the graduation threshold, who do you want them to be? 

I want to challenge you to stop and consider, even visualize, what kind of people you want your children to be. I’m not talking about planning out their futures and careers for them. That is not only an effort in futility, but also a level of control that we as parents should not desire. I’m talking about the long term cultivation process. Homeschooling is not just education, it’s parenting, too. It’s not just alternative education, it’s also character and leadership development. 

The high calling of homeschooling envelops more than just Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. 

At the fundamental core of homeschooling, we all want our children to be more than simply well adjusted, contributing members of society. And while it may feel good to one day be able to boast to your friends that your homeschooled child memorized the entire Declaration of Independence or got accepted into an Ivy League school, those are superficial goals and do not define the success of a home education. 

Most homeschool parents I’ve encountered agree that we want our children to have a positive impact on the world around them. It’s not so much about filling their brains with facts and figures so much as “training them in the way they should go.” Take some time to list out the character qualities and habits that will serve your children long after the Pythagorean Theorem has been forgotten. Pray and consider at length what skills and qualities will serve your children when difficulties, opportunities and choices to be made arise. Things like integrity, perseverance, reverence for God, self-discipline, compassion, loyalty, resourcefulness and generosity that will set them up for success no matter what post-education life path they choose. 

1 + 1 = All you Need

These two questions (or rather, the answers you find for them) will be the guideposts of your homeschool journey. WHY are you homeschooling and WHAT is your goal will help you better clarify HOW you will achieve those things. Think of the why and what as the ditches that keep you on your homeschool path, heading in the right direction. You may not execute it all perfectly, but anytime you feel like you’re getting off track, you can come back to these two questions to recalibrate yourself. 

Now for that all elusive “ideal curriculum”… It doesn’t matter. 

Wait, WHAT?!

You read that right. It does NOT matter which curriculum you choose. When you have these two guideposts in place, you will be on the right track for your family regardless of which, if any, homeschool curriculum you choose. 

Before you close the tab and vow never to read any of my material ever again… hear me out. When the foundation of your homeschool is well laid in guiding your children toward developing character while also staying grounded in why you chose this path in the first place, you can’t go wrong. It becomes less about which books will provide the correct knowledge bites and more about how to use those same books to help your child develop a love for learning and self-discipline. Or the choice to not use a traditional curriculum at all becomes completely imaginable even for a brand new homeschool mom. 

This is the holy grail of homeschool curriculum. 

We all don’t realize we’re looking for it when we’re buzzing around curriculum fairs, looking for some magical key to solve all of our problems. We think it’ll be found in a “perfect curriculum” or “ideal methodology.” But it’s actually found within the four walls of our own homes. It’s in you, Mama. It’s in the heart of every homeschool parent. It is found in the conviction and purpose for all that we do as we raise and educate our children simultaneously. And when you become deeply and unshakably rooted in that, any curriculum (or educational approach) will do. The curricula aren’t the answer. You are. 

And while this may sound altruistic and fluffy, it is actually the most grounding piece of wisdom I have ever received as a homeschool mom. 

You are enough. Read that again, I’ll wait. You. are. enough. 

This is how I'd hug you now. :)
This is how I’d hug you now. 🙂

Changing the curriculum won’t “fix” your children or their challenges. A new math curriculum won’t make your kids suddenly love fractions. Switching to different language arts curriculum because the lady at the homeschool curriculum fair told you it’s magical won’t make your kid love diagramming sentences. Frankly, few people truly enjoy those things anyway and most of us learned them in a style and environment that didn’t foster learning. We learned it because we were told we had no other option (another rant for another day). 

Your desire to develop a love for learning and feed your children’s natural curiosity will lead you on more rich adventures than you ever imagined. You’ll begin to see them connect with the world around them in totally new ways. The battle to make sure the assignments are done everyday becomes less of a war. The pressure to finish all the books by May dissipates when you realize that learning is not about the information, but the personal development. 

Homeschooling is not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

If after answering the 2 most important questions for homeschooling, you choose to use a curriculum, I have one piece of advice for you on that quest: Don’t get distracted by every sales pitch or shiny “new method.” Instead, keep your 2 answers at the forefront of your mind as you peruse a curriculum sale or shop online. Ask yourself, “will this [book, curriculum, supplement or method] help me achieve these [things you listed in response to the questions above]?” If not, set it down and save your money!

And now you are ready, my friend, to find the best homeschool curriculum for you and your family.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your two “bumpers” [answers to the questions above]? Please comment below. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *