Curriculum is the most exciting and the most exhausting part of homeschooling. And if you’re a secular homeschooler, sorry but it’s going to be even tougher. For multiple reasons including that religious homeschoolers were the words who really pushed homeschooling for the past few decades, we’re the minority, and secular homeschooling is not one cohesive group. Secular homeschoolers come from all walks of life and want all kinds of different materials. But it’s possible, and we’re going to do a quick walk through.
First, assess your needs. What age are your kids? Do you really need something structured, like a curriculum? Do you want them to be independent in their studies or with you (this is not an either or question. Some subjects we do all together, some independent, and some one-on-one)? Do you want online materials? Videos? Music? Do you know how your child learns best?
Write down all of the subjects you would like to cover and then rate them in order of importance. Many people cover all the subjects. Most don’t. Not trying to discourage anyone there. Give it a try and do as much as you want! But if you need to scale back a bit, don’t feel bad. We all have 24 hours in a day. Just 24 hours.
Try to work out a reasonable budget. Keep in mind that this is probably a once or twice a year expenditure. We put money away into the fund every month to be ready for the “big” expense (we only put money into our top subjects).
You might want to put some energy into researching educational philosophies. There are a ton but for the most part Walforf, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason, traditional, unschooling, and eclectic. They’re all unique, except eclectic which is basically those of us who cannot make up our mind and bounce between a bunch of different methods as we please (Yes, I’m eclectic and yes I enjoy it. We take parts of each philosophy and make it work for us). There is simply too much on this topic to go much in depth. It doesn’t hurt to have a general idea about each philosophy, if you have time. They all have their merits, in my opinion. I don’t think you can go wrong with any approach. But knowing which one(s) you favor may help in choosing curriculum.
Start shopping (I recommend having comfort food nearby for this part). Go subject by subject. Read reviews on blogs and in groups because sometimes material that appears secular is not at all. Science will likely be your hardest subject. Get it out of the way first. A few recommendations for that tough one:
Yep, two suggestions. Sorry, it’s the best I could do. There are others that claim to be secular but I hear mixed reports and don’t feel comfortable recommending them. Other subjects are significantly easier to find and too numerous to list here.
Ask for samples. Many places simply offer a sample but if not, send a message and ask.
Finally, once you’ve picked your curriculum, do not feel like you need to hold onto your choices forever. If something isn’t working, try something else. Most homeschool items have great resale value so you shouldn’t lose much money, if any at all.
You can find our choices for this year here (although, as I mentioned in another post, some have already changed):
Phew, that was the hardest day of the 5 days of transitioning to homeschool. Don’t forget to check out the other 4 days!