Five Weeks to Starting a Homeschool: Week 3: Do I Even Need a Curriculum? ?!!
After buying individual curriculums for each subject last year I must say I was quite disappointed in myself. We did not use the science book and used the history book as a guide , but faithfully used math and language arts curriculum. So as I look to this school year, I am taking a long hard look of what we REALLY need because it is so easy to go overboard in the homeschool curriculum world.
I encourage you to really evaluate your mission statement and what your expectations are in your homeschool. I am a strong believer in Dr Maria Montessori’s philosophy, child led learning, and unschooling. I also have three children so I try to do things as a group as much as possible and encourage learning from each other (another Montessori principle). Therefore a structured curriculum does not work well for us.
For week three, take same time to explore curriculums online and how they fit in your homeschool. This is a daunting task and you may find that even when you choose something it may not be a good fit. I know many people who have switched curriculums the following year or do not even use it all the way through the year. It is perfectly normal starting out to experiment with different books or even consider a curriculum that is entirely online.
I have become a big fan of unit studies. Unit Studies are wonderful for history and science subjects. With a unit study you can research books relevant to the topic (Children Love Usborne or your local library), search online for projects or crafts that relate to topic, watch documentaries, or make lap books. Unit Studies can be done with different age groups and your family can spend as little or as much time as you want on the topic. Unit Studies are a wonderful way to provide hands on learning while incorporating history, science and the arts. If you do not have the time to put together your own check out KONOS , http://www.homeschoolhelperonline.com, or http://www.design-your-homeschool.com/Homeschooling-Unit-Studies.html for ideas.
For other subjects I also believe kids learn best through multi-sensory materials. So for math my 1st grader and 5th grade will continue to use Math-U-See. Math U See uses blocks and fraction overlays to teach mathematical operations and problem solving. For language arts we use Shurley English, an excellent multi-sensory approach to learning grammar and writing. For reading I keep my house full of books and we make weekly trips to the library.
I recently went to a used homeschool bookstore and even though in my mind I knew what I was looking for, I could not help feeling overwhelmed with all the choices! I can see why people make several choices before settling into what works best. Take your time and do your research to find a good fit for your children and be prepared to switch if needed. Homeschoolreviews.com is a good place to find unbiased reviews of curricula you are considering.
The question of needing a curriculum is a personal choice. Personally I think children in elementary grades can get what they need and more from Unit Studies for Science and Social Studies by focusing on topics of their interest. Then spend your money on math, grammar and spelling materials. But keep in mind this does not necessarily mean expensive books. There are inexpensive materials such as apps and books such as Explode the Code or the Life of Fred.
Places to find curriculum without breaking the bank:
— Used bookstore
–Your homeschool support group-many post online what they are selling and you can also post what you need