Homeschooling curriculum is an important decision! However, many parents fail to realize there are several other equally important considerations needed at the same time. Take a minute to review these vital points below before choosing a homeschooling curriculum. Your decisions today set the foundation for success down the road.
What is your expectation for parent involvement? Some parents desire to be involved in every aspect of homeschooling. On the other hand, other parents only want a daily structure where they are mainly responsible for supervising the school start and end times, plus offering encouragement for quantity and quality. Some desire less parental requirements for a variety of reasons such as a home business or multiple children.
Many parents would like to be involved in all aspects of homeschooling, but desire a structure that will prevent parent burnout and insure student progress if the parent becomes ill or becomes temporarily busy with something else. Some homeschooling curriculum options do not provide this insurance.
For the widest group of parents, a structure that allows the parent to be as involved as desired, but can be successful with less parental involvement, makes the most sense. Some homeschooling curriculum options do not offer this flexibility. Read further below why online homeschooling curriculum seems to provide this flexibility the most. However, there are some programs structured to offer this flexibility for younger students with paper curriculum.
Many parents also look for a structure that will allow the option for the student to continue at home in upper grades. Even if the parent can assist with many upper level concepts, it is important to have a structure the family can fall back on. It can be very time consuming for parents to “stay up” with the context of student work in multiple subjects, especially in upper levels. This issue can also be accommodated with an online homeschooling curriculum, especially one that offers teacher support and built-in digital tutors when needed. Make sure you read the information about homeschooling curriculum support below.
Homeschooling Curriculum Support: Homeschooling curriculum with academic support features costs more than some options, but the higher cost may be the better value. It can be helpful to compare daily school costs between options to see what the family gets in return. First, try to figure out your daily cost for each homeschooling choice. Take the annual cost and divide by approximately 180 school days. Compare the different daily costs between options to evaluate if a higher cost is worth it. For example, if it only costs $3 more per school day to have someone else score the student work that needs manual scoring, it might be well worth it. When academic concept help is also included when needed, it can be a great value for many parents. For many situations, just having these additional people interested in the student’s progress can greatly motivate the student.
Online Homeschooling Curriculum: These vary considerably in structure. Some are very basic and do not have some important features. Some are newer and have not been tested through multiple years of use. Some are lock stepped, while others allow individualized progress. Beware of online homeschooling curriculum that does not require occasional human scoring. Certain aspects of writing skills and critical thinking may not be developed with an entirely “choose the right answer” approach. With over 30 years experience in homeschooling, we have identified some main features or structure that are beneficial.
We feel an individualized structure is very important. It allows each student more time when needed on a concept, but allows acceleration when mastered.
We feel a mastery-based structure is important. A mastery-based structure prevents future struggles. For example, if a student does not sufficiently master multiplication in math, the student is doomed to struggle with division because multiplication is involved in division. A grade level of a subject should be divided into small units. If a student does not receive an acceptable score on a smaller unit, the unit should be repeated so the student does not get promoted without learning foundational concepts. This also trains the student to pursue excellence rather than risk repeating some work. Most students will earn higher grades with a mastery-based structure. It is important that proper placement in the homeschooling curriculum is done when starting. This often requires a diagnostic or assessment to check for mastery of foundational concepts before requiring to learn higher concepts. Even if some foundational concepts need repair, curriculum in smaller units allows the repair to be done without repeating an entire year.
We feel an established online curriculum is safer. The homeschooling curriculum should be older than twelve years, so all the bugs have been worked out for spiralling concepts for academic retention. The older the school, the better! Your child should not be an experiment!
We feel shorter students answers should have instant automated scoring. This corrects the student’s thinking before a wrong answer has been in memory very long. This is probably one of the greatest improvements provided by technology. Once again, longer individualized answers should still be occasionally required.
There are several other beneficial features that should be considered in homeschooling curriculum options. Some will offer an additional digital tutor on the screen if the student needs additional information or clarification. An online lesson plan system can keep the student organized while allowing a quick snapshot to the parent for the parent. Multimedia features can help students with different learning styles. A text to speech feature is also a valuable option, so curriculum text can be read to the student when desired or needed.
Short On Time? In case you are short on time, here are a couple options that provide the concepts mentioned above, plus have some other benefits. We mention these because they focus on academic success, saving parents time, meeting school district needs, keeping homeschooling expenses as low as possible for these valuable features, and meeting the needs of different learning styles. Southeast Academy and Western Christian Academy both offer PreK-12 options. Along with individualized, mastery-based curriculum, they offer what is called “Teacher On Call” for teacher support. They both provide an accredited umbrella that can be helpful in many states. They also include annual achievement testing from home. Their curriculum uses a Christian worldview that works well for most people.