How to Choose the Best Curriculum for Your Kids

by Kimberley McGee
mom planner

The curriculum you choose should be something you and your children both enjoy and look forward to completing. The best curriculum is the one that works for you and your kids, not the most highly rated or expensive.

It should have a big impact for a small amount of work and engage kid’s natural love of learning.

I’ve found if we’re having to push through a program and the twins just aren’t getting it, then I simply need to redirect our efforts and find something that pulls them in. It’s magic. They arrive ready to work and push through those difficult ideas (borrowing, you elusive beast!).

You don’t have to spend a lot, although those all-in-one packages with teacher guides and workbooks delivered to your door paired with an extensive online component tempt me each year.

However, it’s easier, cheaper and more effective for us to teach two kids with entirely different learning styles by piecing together our curriculum by quarter. She excels in math, he at langgue arts.

Learning Styles

If your little or big is struggling, then you might want to assess or reevaluate their learning style. My twins are complete opposites. They may be doing the same work, but we do them in different ways. 

Writing is not his strong point whereas my daughter can write all day and will hold up a finger to put me on pause when she’s finishing a lesson. She can remember all of the spelling words after writing them down. My son can’t remember the last word he wrote down. I asked him to spell the words out loud and use them in a sentence rather than write them down. 

At first, I thought I was being way to lax on my son. But that lesson
that we struggled with for a week? He learned in a day.

He’s verbal and aural. She’s physical and logical. She’s interpersonal and he’s intrapersonal. My son was a physical learner early on, but has evolved as concepts become more complex.
My daughter has basically maintained her learning styles.

Since we started homeschooling, he has soared as a solitary learner. She has found an online community of kids who help her with math concepts she can’t seem to understand. They are giggling and building in Roblox, and sharing how to borrow, memorize those multiplication tables and read music! So don’t worry over screen time if it is benefiting your babies.

There are seven basic learning styles.

  • Visual (spatial)
  • Aural (auditory)
  • Verbal (linguistic)
  • Physical (kinesthetic)
  • Logical (mathematical)
  • Social (interpersonal)
  • Solitary (intrapersonal)

Look at Last Year

Consider where your child did well and where they struggled in their school work. What did they enjoy learning? What subjects did they excel in? Where were they challenged? What made them grow? What subjects did they continually talk about? What materials did they use that worked best/worst?

Then consider your strengths and weaknesses! I, for one, thought I’d love the online component that guides me through how to plan their week, offers detailed reports and assessments. Nope. I love the worksheets around the dining room table. We talk about the assignment. I get to hear their opinions on subjective questions they have to answer and see exactly where they struggle in math or reading comprehension.

Looking over our last year, I realized I needed to spend more time sitting at the dining room table and listening to the kids as they worked. It helped me to reevaluate our homeschool efforts and save time overall. It’s also really enjoyable! 

Unfortunately, I’m always thinking about what I need to be doing rather than being in the moment. Homeschool has taught me to slow down and pay attention. When they were in public school, we did an hour of homework. It was a rush to get done so we could have some play time and dinner before bedtime loomed.  

Get an Assessment?

An annual assessment is not needed in Nevada. Not all assessments are the same, either. You can get an assessment by K5 Learning that doesn’t match Singapore Math’s assessment of where your child is in basic grade skills.

However, I have chosen to assess the twins at different times of the year. When we are really struggling or in a rut, those assessments have helped me to navigate the curriculum. For instance, I realized that the kids were enjoying (!) geometry for 5th grade but hadn’t mastered some concepts from 3rd grade that were now causing them to stumble.

We had to go back and go over those basic math concepts. Sometimes I felt we were flailing around. In those moments, I had to take a breath and be patient. Sure enough, the twins and I would find a way to push through a difficult concept or skill by asking questions of each other and reaching out to the homeschool community.

Narrow Down Choices

This is where I spend the most time. I can go down rabbit holes and squander time (and money) on testing or programs with that tempting free trial.

Once you have their learning styles down and you understand what you can bring to the homeschoool table, take a look at your time and budget. 

  • How much time do you plan on scheduling and teaching in your homeschool?
  • What is your budget? 

 

There are many online resources for every subject. Some, such as Time4Learning or Funcation Academy, require a good amount of time from parents to plan and execute. If you have an indpednet learner, the time will be less. However, you should be committed to being involved as much as possible not matter what curriculum you choose.

From math manipulatives, extensive physical workbooks with teacher’s guides to television shows with detailed educator packets on Disney Plus or National Geographic, there are many different types of curriculum to choose from.

Pro Tip – If you click on that free trial button, use your homeschool planner to track how you like it, how often you used it and when that free trial ends. I mark the day BEFORE the free trial ends so I don’t forget, and there’s no fuzziness on what 14 days means.

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