Homeschool Curriculum

One of the most common homeschool questions that I’m asked is, “What curriculum do you use?”  To be perfectly honest, I hate this question.  I think too many homeschooling parents think that there is a “magic” curriculum out there that will make homeschooling perfect.  Too much homeschooling energy is wasted on choosing curriculum, discussing curriculum, and changing curriculum.  In fact, I see new homeschoolers switching up their curriculum every year (and many don’t even stick with it for one year).

Homeschool Curriculum

In contrast, I spend much more of my parenting energy making sure that my children have enough free time to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills.  Learning to problem solve is what makes my children exceptional, not working their way through a set curriculum.

So it is with great reluctance that I’m actually going to answer the question.  But here it is – the only curriculum that we curently use is “Switched on Schoolhouse” from Alpha Omega Publications.  

I do like Switched on Schoolhouse.  It is self directed, which I think is a very important part of a child’s education.  It is also very easy for me, the primary teacher, to manage.  Most of the grading and scheduling is very easy.  It is also simple to reassign, skip, and regrade assignments (flexibility is important to me).  

If you have a child who has difficulty spelling, they may find Switched on Schoolhouse to be a bit frustrating because incorrectly spelled answers are marked wrong.  Be prepared to either focus heavily on spelling or to regrade a lot of the problems.

We used the Sonlight curriculum for a number of years and I loved that too.  But when I began Goat Milk Stuff, I no longer had the extra time to do Sonlight the way I wanted to do it.  At the same time, we were in the “public eye” more, so I wanted something that was a little more “concrete”.

While I say that we use Switched on Schoolhouse,  we only “loosely” use this program.  It is more of a backup than our primary resource.  We primarily rely on books (real books, not textbooks), the work the children do with Goat Milk Stuff, and creative activities that I regularly devise to teach the children.  

Research has shown that in order for children to remember what they’ve learned, they need something to “anchor” the knowledge to.  Facts that children (or adults) learn that are only memorized for a test tend to not “stick”.  In fact, if you ask them a few days later, many of those facts and ideas that were memorized for a test are no longer remembered.  So I work very hard to give the children memories or stories to “anchor” their learning to.  

For example, I love learning History with the children.  But I don’t ever make them memorize facts and dates (that’s what google and the internet are for).  Instead, we focus on the bigger picture.  Instead of learning when Columbus sailed to America, instead we focus on why Columbus sailed to America.  We do this with well written, interesting books and discussions around the dinner table.  There is nothing like “arguing” a point with your siblings and parents over the dinner table to help you anchor and remember history.

Jim and I have four podcast episodes where we discuss our homeschooling philosophy in more detail.  You can listen to them at the following links:

If you’re reading this blog post because you want to know what curriculum is perfect for you and your child(ren), then you might be disappointed.  But please remember that no matter what curriculum you choose, there will be “gaps” in you child’s education.  This is true even for public school curriculums.  Your children can’t learn everything there is to learn.  No child can.  

Help your children to love to learn and teach them how to learn and whatever curriculum choices you make won’t seem overly important.

PJ

 

 

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kelli T

    I am just beginning my homeschooling journey with my preschooler (also have a 2yo and baby on the way). I am a little nervous because I wasnt homeschooled myself…. so I enjoy reading and learning from other moms. Thanks

    • goatmilkstuff

      That’s wonderful! Congratulations on the new baby! Don’t be nervous about homeschooling. You’ll do great! You can’t teach your child everything, but you know his/her strengths and weaknesses the best and are in the best position to help your child be the best he/she can be! PJ

  • Lynda West

    Love the homeschooling posts. I’ve been doing very unstructured homeschooling with N (age 4) this year for pre-K, but plan on doing it formally next year for Kindergarten and hopefully continue after that. Any suggestions on curriculum to look at for the younger grades? Anything suggestions for a small budget? Thanks! 🙂

    • goatmilkstuff

      Hey Lynda!!

      Why would you get more formal in kindergarten? What is your reasoning for that? Is it because you think it is important? Or because other people expect it of you? Or is it because your state has requirements that you need to meet? Whatever the reasoning would depend on what you use.

      I honestly have nothing that I would recommend for a kindergartner. Mostly because I don’t start anything formal til Junior High or High School. Til them my main job is to put quality books in front of them, teach them how to speak using proper grammar, and doing kitchen and family math which is all about teaching them how numbers relate to each other.

      Sonlight I think has a Kindergarten program you can use if your state requires stuff. I’m not sure that helped, but I hope it did! LOL PJ

  • Jennifer

    I have listened to your 4-part series on homeschooling and loved it. I may go back and listen to it again!

    I do have a question. I’m facing the (internal) pressure to beef up our schooling for the high school years. We’ve always done an eclectic mixture of schooling: Teaching Textbooks for Math, Switched on Schoolhouse for Science, reading library books, Story of the World for History, Rosetta Stone for Spanish, IEW for writing.

    Since I feel the need to start documenting and such (for transcripts), I have been researching Sonlight for use in the 8th-12th grades. Friends who are using it assure me that the kids are able to work independently (as opposed to the younger cores, which highly rely on parent-to-child reading).

    What are your thoughts on this? Would you think that Sonlight would meet the needs that I’m referring to? (Specifically, filling in blocks of credits for high school graduation.)

    (And anyone can chime in!) It’s an expensive decision, though I am happy to say the return policy of Sonlight makes it easier to consider.

    • goatmilkstuff

      I love Sonlight, but mostly for history and literature. I am not a big fan of it for science, math, and language arts if you want to do “traditional” school at the older years. If it were me, and I was doing it for the reasons you are doing it, I would have them do Switched on Schoolhouse for Science, Math and Language Arts and Sonlight for History and Literature courses.

      Do you know what they want to do after high school? Are they going to college? If so, I would take a look at colleges they might be interested in and contact the admissions department NOW. Find out what they want you to have. Don’t just assume that they want a traditional transcript. Not all colleges do. PJ