Ever since I wrote about the 5 most common curriculum blunders homeschool moms make, I’ve been playing with the idea of writing a post specifically to address how to go about creating your own curriculum.
The problem with a lot of premade curriculum seems to be its rigidity. Every child is different, comes with different strengths, abilities, interests.
Each parent is different, too, and most homeschool moms have their own strengths and styles in which they teach best.
A pre-packaged curriculum addresses none of this.
While there may be advantages to buying one just to get started, I find that fitting it into your own family’s routine and personalities becomes its own chore.
I have always built my own curriculum. You can as well, by following the steps below.
Step 1: Assess the child’s abilities
One of the biggest reasons I recommend building your own curriculum is because a grade level doesn’t mean much to a homeschooler. Eventually, you find out that even though your six year old would technically be in first grade he is reading at third grade level or your daughter who is only nine is already working at sixth grade math.
But their abilities are not straight across the board.
Typically, you find out that one of your kids is a math whiz while the other is a reader. One can advance through the grades of history while another is interested in science.
In such a scenario, it is much easier to pick and pull and build a curriculum of your own rather than go by the rigid categories and limitations pre-packaged curricula offer.
It is best to assess their abilities through various online tests. I have found a few that are quick and free and will help you get an idea of where to begin.
Step 2: Consider their interests, your style, and how much time you have to homeschool
Some children learn to read by playing Minecraft. Some like to listen, some are musically inclined, others are not.
While pursuing a well-rounded or rigorous education, don’t forget to play to the children’s interests. If you have a child who loves to cook but isn’t interested the least bit in reading, there is no harm in giving her a cookbook and engaging her in reading from that angle.
There is no one size fits all. Homeschooling is all about thinking outside the box.
Not all school needs to be fun, but don’t completely throw away the freedom you have and insist that it’s in the curriculum, so it must get done.
Also, take into consideration your teaching style and how much time you have to devote to school in a given day. There are parents who work and still homeschool, there are parents with irregular schedules who homeschool. How much time you have is an important factor.
These will and should directly affect your curriculum choice.
To get an idea of what style of homeschooling suits you best, take this quiz.
Step 3: Browse scope and sequence or guidelines of various curricula through online catalogs
Okay, here’s where it gets to be fun.
If you’ve been poking around online, I’m sure you have come across online catalogs. You have probably also been mailed some to your home. Some of these catalogs will list titles of books for each grade level. Take some time to go through these.
Check out their Scope and Sequence page. In it, they will tell you exactly what specific skills they will be covering. If you want to take this a step further, you can check these against the scope and sequence of your specific state.
Now, align the scope and sequence with your child’s interests, your teaching style and voila. Any curriculum built this way will far superior than any boxed curriculum because it will be customized to your family.
Take some time doing this, though. This part will be perhaps the most time consuming part of all. But the work on the front end will pay off later in the year.
Step 4: Look Around You
Okay, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to teach your children and you know they’re going to love it and you’re going to enjoy teaching because it aligns with your style and the time you have. Great! At this point, take a break.
Yes, that’s right. Take a break from the planning and the thinking and the deciding.
As you take a break, you might just realize that you already have around you material that you have not considered “curriculum” because it didn’t come with “textbook” written all over it. Consider encyclopedia like Childcraft, (if you’ve ever been so fortunate as to pick up a few at a library or yard sale) story books, Netflix, even relatives and friends skilled in a task.
Read Six Ways to Save Money while Homeschooling to get a better idea about free or almost free resources you can use.
And finally. Fill up the remainder of what you need and enjoy the rest of the summer. Of course some of us don’t take summers off, so in that case, well, have fun! It’s time to enter the new school year confident.
Enjoyed this post? Then you’ll love my book The Classical Unschooler’s Guide to Creating Your Own Curriculum coming this summer! Sign up below for updates, giveaways and details.