Choosing a curriculum
You've decided to homeschool. You've gotten a couple of catalogs. You've typed in homeschooling curriculum in a search engine. Maybe you've even gone to a homeschooling convention. And NOW--- you're completely overwhelmed.
Twenty years ago, there weren't many choices in homeschooling curriculum, and that carried its own set of issues. But now? It can be completely overwhelming to try to choose a homeschooling curriculum. Too many choices are the problem now. How can you decide? And what if you choose the wrong one? You can't just switch, can you? Will a whole year go to waste if you don't do make the right decision? Your friend swears by her curriculum, but you've looked it over, and it looks too boring or too time-consuming, but if it works for her, it must be good, right?
Okay, first stop and breathe. While this is an important decision, the most important decision has already been made. You've decided to homeschool. Congratulations!
So, moving on to the decision facing you. First, ask yourself just a few more questions.
What are you looking for from a curriculum?
What kind of things is your child interested in?
Do you know your child's learning style? If not, you may want to start with an online assessment of that.
There is no one size fits all curriculum. One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that you can choose a manner of learning that works best for your child. Does your child like to read? Does he like to draw? Does he like to work on the computer? Does he like music? If you use the answers to these questions to drive the curriculum you choose, it is more likely that you will pick a curriculum that both of you are happy with. So, just because a curriculum works great for your neighbor, friend, or family member, don't feel pressured to use it if you just think it's not the right choice for your family.
And you don't have to have a curriculum. Especially in the beginning you may just want to let him research on the computer, read books he enjoys, go with you to the grocery store, the bank, etc. and get a feeling for wanting to learn again.
And what do you do if you make a mistake and choose absolutely the wrong curriculum? If it's really making you and your child miserable, I'd ditch it. Even if you don't have the money to replace it, head to one of the many resources for free homeschooling and work with materials from there for the rest of the year. If you can afford to switch, it's perfectly okay to do that in the middle of the year. If you stick it out for the rest of the year, your child will not suffer permanent academic scarring if you switch to something new for next year.
To avoid choosing a curriculum that's a really bad match, you might want to borrow the curriculum first if you know anyone else who uses it. At the very least, there are probably online Yahoo groups dedicated to the curriculum where you can ask questions and get a better feel for the realities of using it.
So, welcome to homeschooling! It will be okay. You'll find a curriculum that works for you and your child, eventually. Or you'll decide that you don't need one, after all. In the meantime, enjoy the adventure.