Friday, October 2, 2009

Finding My First Curriculum (Or Scary Nightmare!)

So back in April 2009, with my vision of a miniature public school in my head, I set out to find the right curriculum materials for Grasshopper. I really wanted to find an "all-in-one" curriculum--mostly because I was overwhelmed at the prospect of finding a different curriculum for each subject. I joined an e-mail list and asked for help.

All of the responses told me I had to figure out Grasshopper's learning style first. I responded that I didn't think that this was important. They responded that it was, and that they had little assistance to offer without that information. I was so confused, because Grasshopper, I thought, was like any child. She likes books, hands-on activities, games, music, computers, etc. But she is perfectly willing to sit and do a worksheet, too. Well, as it turns out, she is not like other children in that she is able to learn in a variety of ways. However, I later discovered that she had more of preference than I then understood.

At first, I fell in love with K12, an all-in-one curriculum often used by states as their "virtual school" option. I loved that it is mastery-based, so if my gifted Grasshopper could pass a test, she did not have to do the work. But then I learned how much it was going to cost--$1500 per year. Ouch! We just couldn't do that. (And there was no virtual school option in our state.) Now I just didn't know where to turn. I thought about attending a conference, but I was still nursing a baby and recovering from a move. I just wasn't up to a multi-day event.

Fortunately, I found a book at the library by Cathy Duffy called 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. This book was exactly what I needed. It walked me through all of the considerations when purchasing a curriculum. Wow, I couldn't believe all there was to think about! Learning preference was no surprise, but how about teaching preferences? Secular vs. religious? Oh, and how much preparation are you willing to put into it? This books gives you all of this information on each curriculum, along with details about each one that may be unique (for example, if a curriculum is more advanced than others of its kind). I highly recommend this book and Cathy Duffy's website for anyone searching for a new curriculum, but especially for the newcomer to homeschooling. Just be sure not to give in to the temptation to consult only the website. The book is absolutely necessary to understanding the information on the site. (Another place to get some thorough reviews is Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. You can order a catalog for free.)

Keep in mind that Cathy Duffy's reviews are very neutral by design. She is not going to tell you about the people that hated it and why. You can't rely solely on those types of reviews, because they are inherently biased and emotional, but they are still an important part of the research. I use Homeschool Reviews and Look for reviews that give details as to why they liked or disliked it and weigh their reasons against your own circumstances.

Next time, I will write about some of the things I needed to consider as I was planning my first year.


  1. I've loved reading your new blog and I can't wait to watch it grow. Here is another great resource for homeschool curriculum reviews:

  2. Thanks so much for the link, and thanks for reading!


Latter-day Homeschooling