Here’s a common question I get asked about homeschooling. “What curriculum should I pick!? It’s so overwhelming!” So, I want to talk about how to avoid the homeschool overwhelm of “all the things” when it comes to picking a curriculum and other resources for your homeschool.
Avoid Homeschool Overwhelm of Choosing Curriculums
First a spoiler. There is NO such thing as ONE right curricula/curriculums for all-the-world-of-homeschooling. (By the way, curricula/curriculums are both accurate plural forms. I prefer curriculums because it follows typical plural rules of English in adding -s).
This is good news and bad news. Bad: There’s a LOT of materials to wade through. Good: You don’t have to have everything, just the thing that is right for your child and family.
So… that leads me back to – how do you do that without getting overwhelmed?
I’m so glad you asked!
If you want to watch – here’s my fairly awkward first YouTube video in a long time. You can watch and giggle. I don’t mind as long as it helps you!
Stop Chasing Shiny Objects in your Homeschool
Okay I have been talking about “Shiny Object Syndrome” for the past 6 months because I realized last year that THIS is my problem. I think I have to have everything / do everything. But I don’t. I only need to take the steps that are right for ME and MY family. Let everything else go.
Here’s what usually happens (I bet this happens for you too):
Every March and April, I start planning my homeschool year because I like to get a headstart. Plus, in May, there’s a lot of homeschool curriculum sales. So I start thinking about my vision for the next school year for my kids. I jot down notes on the topics and resources I want to purchase for the upcoming school year (and I save a LOT of Instagram posts into a “Homeschool” Collection!).
Then I make those purchases in May and June. But what ends up happening is I start September strong, but by October I’m watching what everyone else is doing in their homeschools. And it looks really exciting. Maybe more exciting than what I picked out.
So it’s easy to get distracted by “shiny objects” (AKA Other People’s Homeschool). Then you doubt yourself and your choices. Also maybe some of your choices stopped working, etc. So you find yourself scrambling to find new materials, change materials, and you’re quickly overwhelmed. (Or you get overwhelmed next year thinking about how the year before didn’t feel so great).
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with homeschool choices.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed on the front end when you’re making decisions for the school year. And then it’s easy to get overwhelmed during the year when you see other homeschoolers doing these other really cool things. And you think, Oh, I wish I had picked that one. Or I didn’t know about that one. Right?
So it’s easy to get overwhelmed both on the front and back ends of this curriculum choosing.
3 Tips to Avoid Homeschool Overwhelm
So here are 3 quick steps to avoid the overwhelm of “all the things” when it comes to homeschool resources and pick the things for your kiddos.
Think about your core values.
The core values in my homeschool are: learning together, spending time in nature, and building our faith.
So when I look at a curriculum, I need to decide if it is does some or all of those three core values. Because we enjoy being outside and learning together, an online or video curriculum is never going to fit the bill, no matter how good it is. (Don’t get me wrong: there are fabulous curriculum choices across a range of styles). But for our family, if I choose a video or heavily online curriculum, by the middle of the year, we’re going to be disappointed. Why? Because we aren’t fulfilling those core values we said we base our home education on.
Some elements of core values I consider when evaluating curriculums:
- online versus hands-on learning
- textbook or literature-based
- independent or teacher-directed
I suggest the first step in avoiding the homeschool overwhelm of curriculum choices is to consider your core values as a parent and write those down. When you look at a resource, ask yourself if –as nice as that resource looks and as amazing and creative and bright and shiny as it looks– does it help you fulfill your core values?
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Get trusted resource referrals
Go to your friends and family who may be using these resources, and ask how it’s going for them. These are people you trust to be honest with you, these are people who have used the curriculum and have experience, and they can tell you how it’s going in their home.
Ask people who are similar to you and your family, because what works for one family really well might not work for yours if your values are different.
- Similar core values for education
- Similar personality and responses to stress
- Similar schedules / work situations
Read blog reviews. (And I don’t just say that because I’m a blogger who does homeschool curriculum reviews!) Bloggers often give a different insight into how a curriculum works. When you go to a company website, they show you beautiful pictures and samples, and everything laid out. But a blogger is going to explain and show you exactly how this curriculum works in everyday real life with real kids. They’re going to describe the kind of learner they have. They’re going to show you the different ways they use the program. So you’re going to get a whole host of insights a little bit different than looking at the company website.
(You can see my homeschool reviews here!)
But, yes, always look at reviews on the website and see what a range of people have to say.
Consider the cost (x2)
When I say cost, I’m thinking both money and time. You do have to consider the financial side of things and you should have a homeschool budget so that you can make good decisions with the limited resources of your money.
But also consider your time investment.
- How much time to learn this curriculum? Is it open and go, or will there be a learning curve? Do I need to gather a million supplies?
- How much time to teach this curriculum? Should I allow 15, 20, 30 minutes for each lesson? Do lessons happen every day?
- Can it be used by both of my children at the same time? If I have to teach different science curriculum to two kids, I need two chunks of time. But if I can find a science curriculum my boys can use together–which “learning together” is one of our core values!– then I save myself both money and time because I teach one hour of science to both boys at once.
- Does this curriculum can cross multiple subjects? We use a history curriculum that teaches both history and geography, and includes additional activities that could count for a range of subjects
- Can I use this material later with my younger kids? I can use the math book and video two years later with my younger son. Therefore I save money.
Core values, trusted referrals, and considering costs. These are the three things I use to help myself avoid the overwhelm of “all the things.” In homeschooling, there is a range of great products from free to expensive, from hands-on to video, from live to in-person, from self-directed to parent directed. There are many wonderful choices! It is normal and natural to find yourself in a state of overwhelm and paralysis by analysis! So use these three tips to guide picking out curriculum for the next school year.How to Avoid Homeschool Overwhelm of “All The Things” Click To Tweet
If you have tips for how you avoid the overwhelm leave it in the comments.
And if you have a question about homeschool curriculum or homeschooling in general, you can ask me here and I’ll answer it LIVE for you!!
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