SO WHICH METHOD IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you are already involved in a homeschool support group or have attended a homeschool convention, you are probably well aware that there are many methods of homeschooling. You may be one of those families who settles in very quickly with one, or you may try a few before finding the right one for you. The most popular overall methods are:

  • Full Curriculum Set: Probably the most popular and much used method is a "boxed" set of Christian curriculum. Generally this includes textbooks for each subject and includes teacher's guides. This is a safe way to begin your homeschool journey, as it helps you to know right off the bat where your child's strengths, gifts, and needs are. Along with curriculum sets, some publishers have accompanying DVDs and software.
  • Unit Studies. Another homeschool mom and I chatted recently about our favorite topic: homeschooling. The subject of unit studies came up. Heather shared with me that she takes breaks from textbooks during the holidays and at other special events during the year to do a themed unit study. She has found that when she spices up her children's education with unit studies, it keeps learning fun and enjoyable for her children. Many homeschool families use unit studies for the entire school year. Unit studies are also a wonderful way to teach a subject to several children at once.
  • Adaptive Study: Each child has a learning style and gifts that are unique to them. Adaptive learning is a great way to meet your child's need in every area. For example, my eldest daughter is advanced in reading, so I am able to use textbooks above her age level on subjects that rely heavily on reading. Rather than a curriculum set for a particular grade level, "Adaptive Study" uses curriculum to match exactly where your child is.

Methods aside, there is a mandate that all education be God-honoring. Therefore, it is very important to keep your homeschool free from atheistic views of origins and the philosophies typically found in all levels of secular curriculum and secular homeschool programs.

WHERE TO BUY CURRICULUM?

One of my biggest concerns initially was finding and purchasing the right curriculum. I was not a big computer user back then, so I figured that the best place to find Christian textbooks was a Christian store. Just as I had hoped, I found a wealth of homeschooling textbooks and materials there. As a new homeschooler, it was immensely valuable to me to actually look at the curriculum. It gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could teach our children.

For those without easy access to a Christian bookstore, curriculum purchases can be made online, through catalogs, or from advertisements such as those found in this magazine. However, if you are new to homeschooling, there is nothing that will give you more confidence to homeschool—and will help keep you from buying the wrong products and wasting money—than to actually see the curriculum before you buy it. Here are some suggestions on ways you can look at homeschool curriculum choices:

  • Conventions: Contact your state group and find out when their next convention or curriculum fair is. Homeschool curriculum publishers are usually on hand with products. The costs of attending the convention can easily save you money in the end.
  • Friends: Do you know someone who homeschools? Ask them if it would be all right if you could look at their curriculum, or perhaps they even have used curriculum that you could borrow and try out.
  • Stores: Visit Homeschool Headquarters at www.homeschoolheadquarters.com and see if there is a Christian store near you with curriculum.
  • Online: Many online retailers and publishers have very good return policies, which makes online buying attractive (check each company's policy first). Do an Internet search on key words such as Christian homeschool curriculum and you'll find plenty of results to start your research.

Finding the right method and curriculum can be a rewarding and joyful process if you consider it part of the journey. Next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed, remember this: all God required of Moses was to show his trust in Him and follow as He led. That's all that God requires of us, too. He just wants us to trust Him, and He will direct our paths.

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:6)

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Denise Kanter is a homeschooling mom of four children, ages 11, 9, 8 and 6. She lives in California with her husband Gary, where they operate Considering Homeschooling Ministry, a national outreach with local chapters across the United States. (Learn more and find free resources at www.consideringhomeschooling.org.) The Kanters are also involved in a creation science ministry (www.worldsbiggestdinosaurs.com).

This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more details, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com