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Choosing Curriculum at Homeschool Conventions

By Lily Iatridis  April 17, 2014

NEWSLETTER- Book FairDo homeschool conventions look like this picture?

If they ever come close to that, then it must be very difficult to choose curriculum for the next school year — unless you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. If you don’t really know what you want, you won’t know the right choice for your family when you find it.

If you’ve been homeschooling awhile, you have some idea of what you and your kids like and dislike. Make a list of those likes and dislikes. We all have our personal tastes in content delivery and teaching style. There’s no one way that’s best.

But there are some general things all curricula should have. Below are questions you should ask before you make a purchase. Looking through samples or course demonstrations should answer them for you.

1) Does the curriculum have clearly stated objectives at its beginning? Does it specifically state what your kids will know and be able to do once they finish the course?

2) Does the curriculum say how your kids will demonstrate their new knowledge? For example, will they take a test or complete a project that’s thoroughly explained?

3) If there’s a teaching manual, are the directions easy to understand?

Hint: Browse through a lesson or two and look to see if the manual actually tells you exactly HOW to teach something, not only WHAT to teach. There’s a big difference. Teaching concepts that we’ve understood for years as adults can be very challenging to teach to young children who are learning them for the first time. A curriculum should carefully show you how to do that.

4) In the student handbook or textbook, are the directions clear, simple, and easy to understand? Is the vocabulary grade level appropriate?

5) Are there plenty of examples of student work that model what your kids’ assignments should look like? Sometimes strong curriculum will show examples of outstanding work as well as average work with explanations of what’s missing so that you can get clear on where your kids are and how they can improve.

Hint: There’s nothing like models of completed student work to give you true insight as to what your kids should be producing at a particular grade level.

6) Along with the student work examples, is there some sort of scoring tool, rubric, or checklist that will show you how to decide how well your kids completed an assignment?

That’s all! The truth is, you should be able to find answers to all these questions by researching a curriculum on the internet. But if you go to a convention, make sure you take these questions with you and learn the answers before you make a decision.



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