By Kevin Swanson (firstname.lastname@example.org), 30/7/2021
Although there are many considerations when it comes to purchasing curriculum, we’ve identified five crucial questions that we believe every homeschool parent should ask when evaluating curriculum for their children. Here’s a brief synopsis below (you can read the full write-up in our Busy Parent’s Guide to Selecting Homeschool Curriculum ebook when you sign up for today’s final webinar!).
1. What philosophy of education does the curriculum follow?
By the word “philosophy” we’re not talking about whether the curriculum uses workbooks, unit studies, kinesthetic learning, or online learning. What we’re looking for is the basic worldview of the authors.
As you review the curriculum, do you find a respect for God’s Word, God’s Wisdom, and God’s Truth? Are the truths of God’s Word tied in to the material—the history, the science, and the literature? Also consider the focal point of the curriculum. Does it emphasize the achievements and works of men? Or does it emphasize the glory and works of God?
2. What is the curriculum’s chief goal or objective?
Every educational approach is directed toward a goal—whether that goal is stated or unstated. Sometimes that goal is to raise up “better,” well-socialized citizens for a socialist state. Sometimes it is to prepare a child to get into a good college and make a lot of money in life. The curriculum you choose will make a big difference in steering your children toward or away from a Christ-oriented discipleship and a Christ-centered life. Always remember to ask the question: What is the goal laid out by the producers of this or that curriculum?
3. Who wrote the curriculum?
Teachers are important. And parents are the most important teachers in the homeschool endeavor. However, a large part of our children’s schooling will be determined by the authors of the curriculum we use and the books our children read. Usually, we give our children the best books written by competent writers or the greatest authors of all time. However, keep in mind that the great writers are great teachers. They may lead our children to the truth, or they may lead them to error.
A good question to always ask is: “Who wrote these textbooks? Who wrote these classics? Were the authors humble men and women? Did they fear God and trust in Christ?” Checking out the life of the author is one of the best and quickest ways to determine whether he or she would be a good teacher for your children. That applies as much to Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Shakespeare, and Mark Twain as it does to John Bunyan or Augustine.
4. Is the curriculum relevant & easy to use?
With much of modern education, countless disconnected facts are thrown at kids— terms to memorize, dates and events in history, and all the rest. Think of it in terms of one little formula:
Boring Books + Pointless Assignments = Less Learned
But homeschooling should never be boring! We want our children to see the relevance of the information and the knowledge they are learning on every single page. They need to know why they are learning what they’re learning and be able to apply it to their lives.
Easy-to-use curriculum prevents the academics from becoming too overwhelming and all-consuming for parent or child. Instead of spending all day doing bookwork, we recommend you set aside time for family economy, practical learning, field trips, planting gardens, and doing real life.
5. Does this curriculum fit into my budget?
Last but not least, families are concerned about the expense of the curriculum. Single income homeschool families (in some cases blessed with a large brood of little ones) can’t always afford to spend $400 – $800 per child on curriculum.
Why is curriculum so expensive? Keep in mind that some curriculum is super expensive because of the sheer magnitude of the content included. Too much of this is busywork; it’s designed to keep kids busy in school, doing headwork for 6-8 hours a day. That’s not the homeschool regimen.