Choosing curriculum can be the most difficult task of homeschooling. With all the choices on the market, a parent can easily become overwhelmed. I know I’ve had times of second guessing…and maybe some third guessing…only to discover myself revisiting my first choice and still totally confused.
Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum
Sometimes I’ve purchased what looks to be an awesome study, then find something that looks better, only to find out three curricula later that the first choice was the best choice. That’s when I cry tears of frustration over the waste of time and money.
After four years of what seems like a never ending treadmill of curricular torture, I’ve finally come up with a system to help me put things into perspective. I break curriculum down into Apples, Oranges and Bears.
Apples are Nourishing
Apples in themselves are dense and satisfying to the appetite, but a very simple food. As the saying goes, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” That’s pretty much my approach to an “apple” curriculum.
This type of curricula is:
- Full of information
- Will satisfy your child’s curiosity
- Give a basic education on a subject
- An easy format to implement and execute on a daily/weekly basis
- Student directed with a motivated child
Parents will have no trouble putting an “apple” curricula plan into action or keeping up with paper work.
The downside of “apple” curricula is that some kids aren’t content with it. Their appetites are only whetted for a subject and they need more to be fully satisfied. You as a parent may love “apple” curricula, especially if you have a baby teething on your ankle, a toddler demanding to be held, and others in the homeschool classroom, but if your child’s knowledge hunger isn’t satisfied they are going to be another demand on your plate. Filling their knowledge tank will keep them (and you) happy and busy.
Oranges Are Juicy
“Orange” curricula is attractive to look at, it’s pretty on the outside and has all the right credentials and wording on the cover. Once you open it, or remove the outer layer, you find segments dripping with wonderful resources.
Personally, I love “orange” curricula because:
- The resources and information provided give an endless opportunity for learning
- Action plan is easy to implement
- You can pick and choose from the resources listed
- You aren’t expected to use everything included in the curricular
- It’s filled with project options
What can be intimidating about “orange” curricula are the resources. It can become daunting chasing down or purchasing items not readily available in your area. Not all public libraries carry the resources needed, nor do you want to spend a day running from one store to the next looking for a special type of “marble.”
Also, how much time do you have to dedicate to this program each week? You’ll need a few hours of prep time and if you’re not a crafty-sort of person, even the simple projects can be overwhelming.
If you are organized person, or are educating multiple ages, “orange” curricula can be ideal for your family. If organization isn’t your thing (like me), you may struggle with juggling all the resources and activities.
Wrestling with Bears
“Bear” curriculum can be either tame or wild, but it’s still a “bear.” This type of curricula is difficult from start to finish. You’ll have a tough time teaching the subject, implementing the plans, and just about every other aspect of this type of curricula, but it can be the most rewarding for some children.
- Gives the student a challenge
- Ideal for children who question everything
- Lots of critical thinking opportunities
- Has real-world applications
- Filled with “meat” on the given subject of study
Whatever you do, don’t be intimidated by “bear” curricula. Some kids need this type of study, because some kids need to wrestle (or wrassle in my part of the county) a bear everyday. In fact, if you have more than 1 child, odds are one of them always wants to do things the hard way, or “wrestle the bear.” So you have to consider if wrestling with that bear going to be worth it. For the kids that want or need that type of challenge, they aren’t going to be satisfied with an “apple” or “orange” homeschool curriculum. Most likely, they’ll take that “apple” or “orange” curricula and turn it into a “bear wrestling” expedition. For those children, you are just going to have to knuckle down and let them wrestle that bear. That means you are going to wrestle one too.
One thing I want you to remember is these categories are subjective. What I may see as an “apple”, you may see as a “bear”, or what you may see as an “orange”, your friend will see an as “apple”. You have to decide on your own which category each curricula falls into.
Homeschool help is easy to find when you know where to look! Check out our homeschool help Pinterest board and find all the help you’ll need!