How To Choose A Homeschool Curriculum For Every Student

I have five children, all opposites! There were times when it seemed like NOTHING worked for any two of them, but I learned to improvise. Here are 5 tips to help you choose a homeschool curriculum, for a variety of learning styles and needs.
homeschool students

How To Choose A Homeschool Curriculum For Each Type Of Student

1. Start with the general, and move to the specific

Spend some time observing. I’m a homesteader, and we have lots of farm animals – the herd of goats or the flock of chickens – if we get any sort of sickness or trouble on the farm it’s because I’m not observing. And there is SUCH a joy in sitting out in my camping chair, and just noticing the animals – are any by themselves, is anyone limping – how is their activity level and interaction with one another, with me? So sorry to offend, but kids are the same. Watch them. No agenda. Pull up a chair, maybe a book or magazine so they don’t think you’re stalking them. (No phone either – no chance for pictures will help them relax and be more of themselves, no performance interfering.)

What are you watching for? What do they do? Do they move quickly, sit for long periods of time, use their hands, are they narrating a lot and chatting to themselves or you? Are they drawn to lots of busy patterns, or more simple colors and muted patterns. Where do the go – to a darker color, or out into the bright sunlight? Just watch. If you have lots of kids, you might make notes. (It’s true – it’s hard to remember, especially in those heavily physical weeks and months of babies and toddlers.)

Just NOTING these things will help you as you peruse curriculum. You’ll find similarities in the preferences of your children’s pastimes without even noticing. As you pick and choose, you’ll start noticing things like font, white space, number of activities and games, color choices and textures. Sift through the options slowly and then watch your child again. Which one is BEST?

Here are the main categories (for foreign language):
~ In person classes (Co-op or other location)
~ Textbook with Audio (I don’t recommend this one alone)
~ Video Classes (I don’t recommend this one alone)
~ Textbook, Notes, Video or Audio instruction (YES!!! DING DING DING!)
~ Software/Apps solo study
~ Workbooks with Audio
~ Hands on Activities with audio – Flash cards and interaction with family
~ Song based/Audio only, or audio heavy

2.  Play to their strengths

Many times we worry about the weak spots in our children’s ability. If it’s a subject they LOVE, sure! But if it’s an unknown – go for their strengths. Get the doodler something they can draw on or with – the active young man something with manipulatives like flash cards, and for sure get that music lover something with audio.

3.  How much time do you actually have?

I’m not talking about time in the day. I’m talking about their attention span. Can they read and or do a lesson that is a 30 minute video? Or truly, they have about twenty minutes (that’s what most teens have) – if yes, then can you pause, walk around, grab a drink or snack, and come back easily? Or is going to be hard to find a stopping spot in each goal?

4. Check for built in markers.

You need to SEE progress. Sometimes that means recording journals or vocabulary lists in a notebook, or a stack of flashcards that they’ve mastered, or a check on a list. Does the curriculum come with a table of contents? Can it be made into a checklist? (This is one of the many reasons to LOVE HOMESCHOOL PLANET!) Even if you are using mostly living books, can you check off a daily narration time, or a chapter or a time limit of reading? How can you SHOW progress to your child and to you? Gravitate to THAT curriculum, or be sure you can easily adjust it.

5. Ask them.

In our home, if someone rejects a suggestion, that means they are now on the hook for proposing an alternate plan or idea. If your child is frustrated or not happy with your current choice of curriculum, then sit with them and talk through the other options. They may not be able to change NOW, but the next season, maybe they can. A great way to prevent this rejection is to involve them in the choice. Choose one to three options that you find palatable, (aren’t we so thrilled that there are just SO SO MANY options nowadays?) and present them to the student. Ask them to make their case against their least favorite, or FOR their favorite. (They may not know that any of the three is good with you.) Do a little negotiating – so we’ll do this three days a week, right? Before snack time? Or during? Give them at least two options that are all correct options.

Every Homeschooled Child Is Different And Has Different Needs

Caveat: You can’t please them all. Sometimes one kid is going to be happier than the others. Trade it off. Show the give and take in the family and in loving relationships. And please know that you can adjust EVERY single curriculum to make it work. I mean it. There’s supplemental apps, videos, living books, read alouds, making flashcards, creating games, playing charades, watching or writing skits… You can MAKE it work without breaking the bank.

Need help? You have a WHOLE community here, and we LOVE giving advice! So— just ask!

I hope these five tips give you a quick frame work – you may have noticed that this really plays to the three learning styles (Visual, Audio, and Tactile) and a little to their personalities and birth order (introverts, extroverts, helpers, observers and solo learners). There are a LOT of books on these subjects, but you don’t have time to be an expert in all those areas. You CAN be an expert on each child in your home. Go! Observe…. and ENJOY!

Meet The Author

About Señora Gose…

homeschool curriculum flip flop spanish

I am a happily married mother of five children, small business owner, as well as a founder & board member of the Community Homeschool Center, in Bryan, Texas. I am a certified Texas Public School Teacher who thrived on teaching in the Public school system before we began our family.  So for 21 years now, I have been teaching Spanish and public speaking to homeschool students weekly in a classroom setting!

Seamlessly add your Sra. Gose’s Spanish Geniuses Level 1 & Sra. Gose’s Spanish Geniuses Level 2 curriculum from Flip Flop Learning for use with your Homeschool Planet subscription. If you’re just beginning high school or want to start learning Spanish as an adult, these are courses that are created just for you.