Yes, some use the same curriculum, but they don’t always follow it EXACTLY AS WRITTEN.
Some have more money and can buy a good set (like Sonlight Curriculum – Awarded Best Overall Homeschool Company in 2012 by Old Schoolhouse Magazine) while others have less money and find things for free on the way (like allinonehomeschool.com).
Some people have tons of kids while some have maybe only one.
Some people find their own resources and materials easily while others need everything made for them so they don’t have to search for everything.
As you try to figure out which curriculum works the best for your family you realize you have to answer a bunch of questions.
Like, for instance, what can you actually handle?
How many kids do you have?
How do you want your kids to learn?
How do they learn? Do they learn things differently than you?
What does your specific state require?
Are your kids more hands-on, auditory, or visual (or a mixture of all of the above)?
Do you like doing what the school does (known as the “traditional” style) or do you just totally want to throw out tradition and unschool, seeing what your family learns along the way?
Already I bet your mind is swirling! These questions can be easily overwhelming, especially when we first start out in the world of homeschooling where there are so many options and ways of teaching kids. But as you progress and your family grows you find the answers more easily as you work through the ups and downs.
One of the first things I did when my husband and I finally decided to homeschool (when my oldest was getting closer to kindergarten) was to see what other homeschoolers were doing.
My husband and I took a long time to make that decision about because my husband was worried that our kids may miss out on things. Growing up, I had wanted to be homeschooled but he was homeschooled, so it was an interesting perspective. Eventually homeschooling won out!
Wonderfully for me, I had a few women in my church, as well as some friends, who were already homeschooling their kids and were willing to let me explore their abode and their resources. I could ask them, “What do you use?” and get tons of feedback about what they personally loved.
What if there are NO homeschoolers in your area? Or how would you even connect with some?
Sometimes you can go online and find homeschooling beginner communities where you can ask questions (if you are a computer person) or, if you are in NY, you could look up LEAH (Loving Education at Home) and see if they know where you could meet some other homeschoolers. They also have a manual you can use to figure out quarterly reports and the paperwork aspect of what you actually need to send in. I am not sure what other states have, but you can start asking and looking and you may find there are more homeschoolers then there ever used to be, especially with Common Core taking over many different states and schools.
One of my favorite books about homeschooling talks about even attending homeschooling conferences. Going to one of those actually helped me fine tune what I like and opened my eyes up to other things I had not thought of.
I found I enjoyed a Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, Classical approach and the husband of the author of the My Father’s World Curriculum was sharing their curriculum and why they put it together and a seed was planted. (It took about 2-4 years afterward for it to work in my family, but I have to say, I am so happy we did it this year!)
I also heard of who Charlotte Mason was and so many other great things. It was very encouraging and I highly recommend it!
I had personally loved Sonlight when we started because I was a reader and I wanted my kids to enjoy reading as well. Their books were excellent but sometimes the books were a bit above my kids heads. We still had many cherished times just reading and laughing over books and the ones that were too much, I would just move to the side and read when they were ready.
I found I did have to supplement because I wanted more activities for my active kids and added The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition curriculum that had an activity book (The Story of the World, Activity Book 1: Ancient Times – From the Earliest Nomad to the Last Roman Emperor)and worksheets you could print helped so much more in the process (and gave my kids something they could look back on).
When I tried to homeschool three different age groups, things became tight, and so I moved to Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett and KONOS Character Curriculum. They were good in their own way but I couldn’t get all the materials needed for the KONOS and felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job. We still learned A LOT about attentiveness, the ear, musical instruments, castles and kings, etc. Using some of KONOS ideas I also got to do some classes at our co-op about Lewis and Clark and Native American Indians. Amanda Bennett’s studies were great, too, but for a time I didn’t have internet and most of her studies, if not all, are internet-linked and go to sites to help you find the information.
I missed some of the classical things, as well as some of the readers I had enjoyed from Sonlight, that I tried to move back, but with all the kids I had, I found it a bit difficult and burdensome for me.
I like when things are mostly supplied and I can pull them out when I need them instead of trying to gather them myself (which Sonlight did). If I don’t use them, I will pass them or hold on to them for future children, and I am learning I don’t have to use everything.
So having most things ready in My Father’s World this year and being able to at times use Amanda Bennett’s Unit Studies along side of what we are doing has really helped me in the long run.
Did I lose you in all that curriculum talk! Sorry!
I guess the biggest question I have for you is: What are you really hoping to accomplish with homeschooling?
Once you figure that out, no matter what comes, this will guide you.
The reason why this is such a HUGE question is because homeschooling is a very big undertaking. You are going to need to have a solid reason for why you are doing what you are doing to keep you sane when you are going through periods of craziness. There is going to come a day when you will feel like throwing in the towel and quiting ( I having numerous times).
It could be that your kids may not be listening. Someone is sick. Hormones are raging. Or it’s a week of who-knows-what and your “well-laid plans” seem to go by the wayside. What will have you keep moving forward where you are not strangling your kids and still feel like they are learning something?
Just start thinking about these things and you will be on a good track.
One other excellent resource that will guide you on your way? 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
This book helps you figure out the why, what, where, how and so much more! And she gives you ideas of what your kids learning style may be and what yours is, and tries to help you find a curriculum that fits your family and needs.
I just re-looked at it and it’s funny, after six years of homeschooling, how many products I know and that things are finally working for my family. You will be learning and fine-tuning as you go along, too, but this is one of the best books you can get to get you started.
(If you are in New York and are part of the Hudson Library System, this book is available)
Be inspired today!