1. Can I afford this?
Seriously, folks. I’m an advocate of living debt free and staying that way. You can read more about that here. You might have your sights set on the best Pre-K 4 set out there, but if you can’t afford it, move on. Trust me, that bill will become a burden (don’t ask me how I know…)
2. Is it right for your kids?
Seems like a simple question, right? However, I have found that some companies market things SO well, that I often forget to factor in my children’s personalities and interests. I tend to notice the books that I loved as a child or a teacher…but I must remind myself I have four little boys who aren’t as keen on Little Women!
3. Is it right for the season of motherhood you’re in?
This is one I’m trying to figure out. My usual curriculum is AWESOME. However, it requires quite a bit of quiet time and listening. My oldest is the only one that can truly benefit. And even then, the other 3 are all over the place while I try to read. As perfect as the program is, I may need to realize that for the time being, I need to take a more realistic approach while I have young children. With a toddler, screaming pre-schooler writing on the walls, and short attention spans for the older boys….reading for 4 hours a day might not be what we need.
4. Will it stand the test of time?
Can you reuse the resources? Are the manipulatives well made? Does the price match the quality? Does it appeal to several learning styles (because I can guarantee all your kids will learn differently), or will this only work for 1 child? I use Sonlight and it’s PERFECT for standing the test of time….not so much for issue #3.
5. How much prep time does it require?
This is a huge factor. If you have lots of people to help or time to prepare things every Sunday or something, than maybe this won’t be an issue for you. However, for me, I’ve realized I literally have to buy something that takes ZERO prep time. I simply cannot be going over things hours at a time the night before. Maybe I’d be a better teacher to do that, but I haven’t found the time yet.
6. Does it include all your subjects?
If you’re buying a boxed curriculum, go over all it includes and made sure you aren’t missing something that is vital. Many boxed curricula come with Reading, Writing, Math, and Spelling. Perhaps History is thrown in there too. However, many times Bible study and Science have to be added on. What about Art? Physical Education? Geography? Consider it all.
7. Does it include your read-alouds/history/science texts?
I’ve gotten spoiled with what curriculum I’ve bought in that it includes everything. However, I realize for ME, this is invaluable. I do not MAKE the time (and sometimes I really don’t HAVE) the time to go check out all the books on a regular basis (and return them without a late fee) for our school work. Perhaps you are a very organized person who can march to your own drum and be on top of literature needed for your homeschool. It will save you a TON of money! I wish I could. However, for me personally, it’s just not realistic.
8. How long will it take everyday (per child) to get it done?
Depending on what kind of curriculum you buy, what grade you’re teaching, and HOW MANY kids you are guiding is a major factor. Curriculum companies can claim all they want that you can teach them all at once, but there comes an age gap in which math, reading, and spelling must be done individually. If your program is not efficient and requires a ton of busy work, you could be at this for hours on end. I’m learning this with my 4.5 year old now. He just started doing ‘true’ school with my 6 year old and I, and it has really made me realize I have a lot to learn when it comes to teaching multiple children! I do not have time for too much fluff.
9. Do I know someone who already uses/owns it?
One of the BEST things you can do for yourself is ask around your co-ops or online and LOOK at your potential curricula. Attending a homeschool conference can help you get your eyes and hands on several companies products during the convention. I *thought* I knew exactly how I wanted to teach when I first started until I got to thumb through workbooks and resources at our local homeschool convention. HUGE eye opener.
10. Pray about it.
This is a hard thing for me to give advice on because I’m such a worry wart. I tend to Google the heck out of something before I talk it over with God. It’s a terrible habit but I’m doing my best to correct daily. I always thought..”Homeschool curriculum? Why on EARTH do I need to pray about that. How silly.” However, I’ve now realized what a huge decision this is. This decision affects our finances, my attitude, my children’s attitudes, their education, my time management, and our relationships with each other and with God. So, it most definitely deserves our prayerful consideration. It also requires patience. Don’t rush into ANYTHING. Don’t ask me how I know 🙂