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Kathy Ceceri

What I Always Tell Newbies About Curriculum

By November 15, 2012

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This time of year, our local support group email lists start buzzing with questions from parents who have just made the switch from traditional schools. And one of the first things they usually ask about is which curriculum to buy.

Of course, helpful veterans on the list are quick to jump right in with their suggestions. But I always think back to one of the first support group meetings I ever attended, when my oldest was still a preschooler. Over and over, I heard stories from parents who spent $200 or more on a curriculum their first year, but only used it a few weeks or months before discarding it and finding their own resources.

I decided there and then to skip the "spending $200" part and go right to creating my own curriculum -- a method sometimes called Eclectic Homeschooling because it borrows from many different education styles and philosophies.

This worked so well for my family that whenever homeschooling newbies ask for advice about which curriculum to buy, I always chime in with, "You don't have buy anything, you know!" And then I give them some ideas for things to use instead of textbooks.

Do you use a curriculum, pull together your own resources, or rely on a mixture of both? What are your favorite non-traditional resources?

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November 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm
(1) royce says:

This is my first year homeschooling. Both my kids had been in public and private schools up to this point and both are in high school. I purchased the Penn Foster program and am quite happy with it. But because of MD home school guidelines I have had to supplement with a mixture of my own projects. I also recommend Khan academy. It is an online classroom and is free.

November 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm
(2) LuAnn Braley says:

We have gone to listings (some here on this site) about what is generally required by grade or what the “educated X-grader” should know, and then checked the internet for resources. For (local) history, there are a lot of field trips. Ft. Boonesboro is within easy driving distance, as are multiple sites of Civil War/War Between the States (or as my husband’s mamaw puts it “The War of Northern Aggression”) interest.

November 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm
(3) Kathy Ceceri says:

Royce, I have heard good things about Khan Academy.

LuAnn, we have always been big on field trips too! Around us it’s colonial sites and the Battle of Saratoga. We like visiting little local history museums when we travel too.

One of my plans for the site is to create (or update, if they exist) lists of resources like website and field trip suggestions for homeschoolers. I’ll be sure to set them up so readers can contribute!

November 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm
(4) Tonya Lee says:

We are also a very eclectic mix around here. I use a lot of fiction books mixed with Kingfisher and other encyclopedias, but I like a firm math curriculum. We do lots of field trips, journaling, looking stuff up online. I think my philosophy is a lot of Charlotte Mason mixed with a lot of Classical, mixed with a lot of unschooling. I pretty much let the kids get carried away with whatever they are interested in, and that has worked really well for us. And I’ve never spent $200 on curriculum. We have forgone the pricey private school education and now love our frugal homeschooling ways!

December 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm
(5) Tonya M. says:

I am very pleased with Spectrum workbooks from Carson-Dellosa. My daughter has A.D.D. and I’ve found Spectrum has many features that work for her. It has a good font size, as well as, just the right amount of information on each page without being overwhelming. The information is simplistic enough and builds upon itself, gradually. The pages are perforated. The page layout is such that I can fold most of the papers in half so she can work on the top or the bottom. There’s several subjects available. The workbooks run about $10 – $12 each, locally.

I love BrainPopJr (K- 3) to supplement all subjects. I was able to purchase all three BrainPop subscriptions with the option of having our credit card charged a little over $16 once per month. There’s been several times when I had no clue how to introduce or even cover a certain topic when BrainPopJr’s video and related activities have saved the day. I’d swear to this resource above all others to start out with if you’re on a very tight budget. You can research the Internet for additional worksheets related to the particular subject / topic.

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