If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
As recently as ten years ago, when the practice of home education was just beginning to reemerge, families had very few choices when making their selection of curricula. Today, the choices can be overwhelming, and the number of new products seems to grow daily.
Every homeschool parent has purchased several curricula items he or she has never used. This section has been designed not only to give you more information, but to help you narrow down your options and make wise choices.
In this 21st century we are blessed to have many new home education materials on the market and more coming each month. It is easy, however, to become overwhelmed by all of the choices. This article presents a sampling of tried-and-true favorites of many of Virginia’s homeschool families.
To help you narrow your selection, we have included the following questionnaire. As you are selecting your materials for your first year, it is wise to limit your choices to one or two publishers. Like any good scientist, you don’t want to test too many variables at once.
[While several options are mentioned under each assessment, we highly recommend checking Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for more curriculum recommendations for the various learning styles and modalities. Every Child Can Succeed by Cynthia Tobias is also recommended.]
Know Your Needs—Assessment
Fill in a rating number for each statement, then add the numbers as directed at the end of each section. Rate the following items from 1-10 to determine your family’s educational needs. (1 = not true in any way, 10 = absolutely true)
1. ____ All of our curricula should focus upon the Lord.
2. ____ Creation Science will be our only approach to science.
3. ____ History should be looked at in light of God’s plans.
4. ____ Character development is more important than academics.
5. ____ The Bible is our basic textbook.
6. ____ Bible memory is a daily exercise for our family.
7. ____ The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
8. ____ The Bible is the inspired Word of God.
9. ____ Each person in our family has daily devotions.
10. ____ We are home schooling primarily to teach our children in the Lord.
Total (1-10): _____ If your score is greater than 50, we recommend a strong Bible-based curriculum this year such as the Principle Approach, ACE, A Beka, Bob Jones University Press, Christian Liberty Academy, Rod and Staff, Christian Light, Alpha Omega, KONOS, or Weaver.
11. ____ My child loves to color.
12. ____ My child loves picture books.
13. ____ My child loves to draw pictures.
14. ____ My child enjoyed writing his/her letters early.
15. ____ My child often says, “Let me see!”
16. ____ My child remembers things in pictures and color.
17. ____ My child notices detail and remembers lists by looking upward.
18. ____ My child doodles well and often.
19. ____ Color is stimulating to my child.
20. ____ My child likes to do workbooks and play school.
Total (11-20): _____ If your score is greater than 70, your child enjoys visual learning. You will find most curricula easy to use. Your child will prefer colorful texts and interesting workbooks, such as A Beka, Bob Jones University Press, the Usborne series, some ACE, and Scott Foresman.
21. ____ My child hums to himself often.
22. ____ My child makes little rhymes or songs for fun.
23. ____ My child often does not look at the speaker, he only listens.
24. ____ My child seldom takes notes.
25. ____ My child gets irritated easily by noise.
26. ____ My child reads aloud to himself most of the time.
27. ____ When remembering days of the week or months of the year, my child glances left or right over his ears.
28. ____ My child remembers the alphabet by song only.
29. ____ My child spells words by sounds more than by the shape of the word.
30. ____ My child enjoys poetry and music.
Total (21-30): _____ If your score is over 60, your child enjoys auditory learning. You will want to investigate teaching songs on tape, curricula with simple succinct instructions, and uncluttered pages. Use rhymes for teaching rules. Unit studies are often fun for these learners because much of the content comes through discussions. Look for Grammar Songs, and other teaching tapes, Phonics for Reading and Spelling, The Writing Road to Reading, Easy Writing, Wrap-Up-Raps for math skills, Making Math Meaningful, Sing, Spell, Read and Write, Play ‘n Talk, KONOS Character Unit Studies, Christian Cottage Unit Studies, Weaver Curriculum, and Alta Vista Unit Study Program.
31. ____ My child is always fidgeting.
32. ____ My child loves to play with Legos and blocks.
33. ____ My child rode a bike early.
34. ____ My child often seems restless or easily bored.
35. ____ My child often looks down when he is thinking or listening.
36. ____ My child often touches things in the stores.
37. ____ My child is comforted by hugs and teddy bears.
38. ____ My child enjoys acting out shows during the program.
39. ____ My child would rather tap a pencil than write with one.
40. ____ My child has found reading and writing a challenge.
Total (31-40): _____ If you scored above 50, then your child loves to learn by touching and feeling. This is the kinesthetic approach. You will want to include manipulatives or be ready to move to a large board on the wall for math and lay out word cards on the carpet for grammar in order to give further instruction. Unit studies, science projects and history projects will be the best part of this child’s educational experience. Look for magnetic letters, math manipulatives, math games, educational computer games, number lines and timelines down the hall or staircase, Making Math Meaningful, Math Wrap-Ups, Math-it, Modern Curriculum Press’ Science Workshop, Science Through the Creation Week, and Winston Grammar. KONOS Character Curriculum and Christian Cottage Unit Studies are especially geared for this type of learner, but any unit study program is good, such as Weaver, Alta Vista, and How to Create Your Own Unit Study.
Limit Your Choices by Looking at Your Life-style
- Your beliefs
- Your child’s learning style
- Your teaching schedule
- Your child’s skills
- Your budget
- Your goals
Where Do You Line Up?
Consider where your family would fall in these ranges:
- structured school time–variable schedule
- direct teaching–working independently
- below grade–grade level advanced
- remediation required–needs challenge
- teaching is comfortable–teaching is unfamiliar
- $100 per child–$1,000 per child homeschool budget
HEAV’s friendly and knowledgeable staff is available five days a week to assist you as you begin your homeschool journey. Free curricula counseling is available through our office by calling 804-278-9200.