1. Make Lists
2. Make a Budget
3. Get Product Catalogs
|My current catalog stash...|
4. Take Advantage of Reviews
If you are looking for a great way to sort through a lot of the top curriculum in book form, make sure you check out this book by Cathy Duffy. Ms. Duffy does the hard work for you and narrows down the list of curriculum out there to just 101 choices. She also guides you in how to determine whether or not her picks will even work for you. I own this book and I love it.
Ms. Duffy also has a website full of the same information plus new reviews on other products far beyond the 101 products she mentions in this book. I love getting emails notifying me of any of new reviews she's done.
Homeschool magazines are another great place to see reviews on products.
Most of them review at least 1 product per issue. Some have special issues devoted to curriculum--like the 2014 Annual Print Edition from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. In this issue they have their curriculum award list which lists the top two winners in all the curriculum categories. This is a great thing to consider as these were all voted on by the readers--who have been using the product!
Word of mouth. You will get some of the best reviews from your friends who have used the curriculum. Once you have made your list and narrowed it down, ask your friends if any of them has used any of the curriculum you are interested in. You might be surprised at the quantity of material that has been used and some might even offer to let you borrow it---freeing up your budget for something else! I ask a LOT of questions about curriculum choices to my friends before I ever reach my final decision. I trust them to give me a good idea on how it all works and the pros/cons of everything.
I have mentioned Pinterest three days in a row now...but I did say it was an essential, remember? When it comes to reviews...use Pinterest! If you type in keywords like "Moving beyond the page review" you are going to get links to actual reviews. So save yourself time searching on Google...use Pinterest instead.
5. Ask your Children
Now I know that you aren't going to be inclined to ask your toddlers whether or not they will like a curriculum, but once your child is older--I highly recommend asking your child for their imput on the curriculum. It is going to be THEIR curriculum. Show them your lists and let them add their own ideas.
I will note that he didn't get to choose everything. Sometimes you have to choose for them on subjects they aren't interested in doing. But if you let them be a part in other ways, this won't be a problem.
6. Meditate and Pray
Once you've reached this point, you should have a good idea about what you are going to be doing...but before you make the final move and purchase, take time to meditate on it. Let it sit and simmer for awhile. As a Christian, I highly recommend praying about it. I will pray before I start looking for curriculum and then I typically pray the night before I make purchases. I especially will pray if I'm stuck on curriculum. I will ask God to make it clear to me what I need to do. God is a major part of our homeschooling and we believe He gets a "say" in it too.
There have been days where after time for meditation and prayer I just throw a curriculum out. And it's always been a good choice in the long run! So make sure you take time to think and listen to God about the curriculum you are choosing.
7. Take a deep breath and go!
It is so hard to push that "process order" button. I'm always second guessing myself. What if he doesn't like this program? Am I really brave enough to teach this? What if it doesn't work for us? I've learned to just take a deep breath and go.
I've discovered that some of my curriculum choices ARE going to be flops. But that's okay. I can shelve them to try with another child or I can sell it to someone else looking for curriculum. That's the thing about curriculum...you can't completely predict the outcome. So you just have to take a deep breath and go for it.
Once you've started buying curriculum, it will get easier...sometimes. LOL! There is always that moment before pushing the "process order" button that never seems to go away for me. But it's getting easier.
I hope that these seven steps will help you realize that picking a curriculum isn't so scary. If you remember at the very least to make lots of lists and take advantage of catalogs, you will find the process much easier. Good luck with your curriculum planning---once you successfully get that out of the way, it's going to be time for the next thing homeschool moms dread...Lesson Planning! I am going to talk about that tomorrow, so make sure you check back in!
Marcy @ Ben and Me
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Rebekah @ There will be a $5 Charge for Whining
Gena @ I Choose Joy!