How to Create Your Own Homeschool Curriculum
When I began my home schooling journey I was overwhelmed by the incredible number of curricula available. I had no idea where to start. If you are there, please check out this book by Cathy Duffy.
Choosing a curriculum is risky business. I initially chose a full curriculum that I absolutely hated once we began to use it. It was an unfortunate waste of nearly $1000 as I had gone hook, line and sinker and purchased it for two different grade levels because I was so certain that we’d love it. I haven’t made that same mistake again.
We stopped using that curriculum about a month into home schooling and I began to piece together my own home school curriculum. It was a little scary at first because I was new to homeschooling and was afraid that I would miss some critical piece of my child’s education by not using a pre-packaged curriculum.
As it turns out, I had nothing to be afraid of. There are so many resources available to help homeschooling parents make sure that their children are on the right track. These resources will help to ensure that your children receive a complete education from preschool through high school.
Resources for Creating Your Own Homeschooling Curriculum
I consider five different books (or sets of books) to be critical in helping me plan and create my own curriculum each year. Here they are:
The What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know series is vital for knowing what your child should be learning at each grade level. These books span from Preschool to 6th grade and are a valuable resource for any parent–home schooling or not, but are especially useful for those who want to create their own curriculum.
Each grade level book contains everything your child should know on all of the subjects that should be covered in that year. It includes stories, poems, songs, art works, etc to read to/with your child, so it’s not simply a list of basic skills that you child needs to know.
The math, science and social studies sections contain lessons that you can read to your child and build off of by using your own worksheets. (I’ll list the websites I use for free printable homeschool worksheets later in this post.
Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum is another must-have for me. It’s a small book, but within its pages is a wealth of information and ideas for each level from Preschool all the way through Grade 12.
Used in conjunction with the Nth-Grader series above, it helps me make sure that my children are learning what they need to know at that grade level and gives me a look into what concepts and lessons I should be preparing for in the upcoming year.
One of my favorite features is the “essential knowledge” vs more in-depth study information. If my child is really interested in a subject or a lesson this allows me to go deeper. If my child is barely interested, this book helps me to make sure we cover the basics before moving on to a lesson that is more interesting to my child. (This is great for unschoolers who use child-led learning to know when to dive deeper into a topic.)
Homeschool Your Child For Free. This book gives an incredible number of resources–FREE resources–for lesson planning, teaching and even essentials like printables.
With the exception of my initial newbie homeschooling mistake of buying an expensive packaged curriculum, I’ve been able to mostly homeschool my children for free. We certainly don’t spend more than $200-300 per year on all three children combined. The high-end of that is only when we’re using an online curriculum or trying out some new software.
It really is possible to homeschool your child for free. If you invest in no other homeschool resource today, I suggest you make purchasing this book a priority. It will save you money for years to come.
Story of the World. My favorite history curriculum, hands-down. Story of the World is a series of volumes from 1-4, which take you and your child through history beginning in ancient times. The accompanying activity book offers worksheets, lesson ideas and a teaching guide. There is also a tests/answers book, but we’ve never used it.
We take our time and alternate between science and history. I teach all three of my children, who are each around two years apart in age, science and social studies on the same level. I’ve found that Story of the World is great for all grade levels.
The boys usually color a page from the activity book or draw while I read the history lesson. Sometimes my oldest son takes notes. We try to read a chapter at a time, but sometimes the boys have questions during the lesson that prompt us to go more in depth on a particular event.
Another great thing about Story of the World is that it can be used for both religious-based and secular homeschool choices. We are a spiritual family, but we don’t incorporate our religious beliefs into every school subject. We appreciate learning about what other cultures have believed about the supernatural throughout history. Story of the World doesn’t skip over the beliefs of other cultures and it doesn’t glorify one set of beliefs over another. Although the author is Christian, the books refrain from bias where religion is concerned.
Various books from American Education Publishing. From Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills for each elementary grade level to specific elementary school subject such as Maps and Geography and Grammar and Punctuation, these books have been a valuable resource for worksheets that go along with the lessons I create.
You can’t beat the prices. Especially if you have more than one child.
The work pages found within these books teach as well as provide practice. There have been times in math, for example, that the lesson portion of one these worksheets has provided a far better explanation than I or a You Tube video was able to provide.
These workbooks are also more fun than boring black-and-white printed worksheets, so I use them to break the monotony.
Useful Websites for Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum
Here is a list of some of my favorite websites that offer free printable worksheets that will complement your homemade homeschool curriculum. These are a just a few to get you started. I’ll create another post with many more free printable worksheet websites.
While many pre-packaged curricula are expensive, it is entirely possible to design an inexpensive, thorough, well-planned curriculum. It can be time consuming at first, but if you have multiple children be sure to save your plans for each grade level to make for easier planning in the future. Remember to be flexible, as well. Every child learns at his or her own pace. One reason that creating your own homeschool curriculum is so great is that you can tailor it to each individual child.