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Wading through the Curriculum Jungle

  • 2002 27 Oct
Wading through the Curriculum Jungle

Overwhelmed by choices, daunted by the immensity of their responsibility, and worried about breaking the family bank, home-schooling parents find that choosing a curriculum is a fearful task. But there are strategies that will help them sort through the choices, alleviate fears, and probably save money.

  1. Do your homework before buying curriculum: Reading some basic parent-help books can answer many of your concerns, help you develop your own “philosophy of education,” and maybe even suggest some programs that especially appeal to you. (See the end of the article for some tried and true basics.)

  2. Spend money slowly: It’s easy to be convinced by a knowledgeable salesperson that his program is absolutely the best, that is, until you hear the pitch from the next salesperson.  Almost always, you can manage with fewer resources than you think you might need.

  3. Consolidate grade levels whenever possible: Teach as many of your children as you can with the same resources at the same time. Bible, history, science, art, and music are the easiest subjects for this sort of
    “efficient” teaching. Generally, aim toward the older children when choosing books for the “group.”

  4. Control your curriculum rather than letting it control you: Almost anything you choose will need to be adapted in one way or another to work well for your children. Use as much of a resource as is useful. Supplement if necessary. If what you are doing is not advancing your child’s knowledge or skills, go on to something else. Skipping pages in books is okay!

  5. Remember that your children are individuals: What works for one might not work so well with another. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each child so that you can choose resources that teach to their strengths and help them to overcome weak areas.  But don’t expect to be able to do this well your first year home schooling!

  6. Try to use materials from publishers that view education the same way you do: Christian publishers include religious events in their history books and God, the Creator, in their science books. However, Christian publishers differ from one another in how they believe children learn best. Some prefer memorization and workbook activity while others recommend more hands-on type learning. With a little experience, you will begin to easily spot those who are on your wavelength.

  7. Pray for inspiration daily: God loves our children even more than we do. We can ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration when we hit tough spots or frustrating moments. Rely on God’s help, remembering that He’s intensely involved in the process with us.

Recommended Books:

For the Children’s Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Crossway (at Christian bookstores).

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick, Education Services, (800) 421-6645.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell, Tommy Nelson Publishers (at Christian bookstores).

The Home School Manual by Ted Wade, Gazelle Publications, (800) 650-5076.

Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manuals by Cathy Duffy, Grove Publishing, (714) 841-1220.

Cathy Duffy is the author of Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manuals (two volumes: Elementary Grades and Junior/Senior High), Government Nannies, and numerous articles on curriculum and education issues. She home educated her three sons, graduating the last one in 1997. Information about her books can be found at