I have a strict list of guidelines that I follow when choosing curriculum for my children. They will be spending hours upon hours studying the books and audio I set before them, so it needs to reflect our families values and beliefs.
Here are some things I consider:
Does the curriculum line up with my Christian beliefs? Does it teach creation or evolution; belief that God has a hand in history or it is all man’s doing? As my children get older we will explore the beliefs that are not true, but while they are younger I want to fill their minds with things that are true (and pure).
Does the reading list include books with magic (no Harry Potter here), witchcraft, mystery (my children get easily scared), foul language, pagan undertones, boy/girl dating relationships, complete disrespect towards the character’s parents and siblings? If so it is scratched off my list.
Is the curriculum full of silly characters that go along with the curriculum that simply end up distracting my children? This might not be a big issue for some, but I’m pretty particular about such things.
Will the curriculum be interesting to my children? I learned last year that nothing makes a school year be more miserable than curriculum that does not grab their attention. So this year we are doing lots of living books.
Does the curriculum provide the right mix of challenging my children to learn, but not being a source of frustration because it’s just so difficult? I try to remember my children’s strengths and weaknesses when picking a curriculum. I picked something that has a lot of reading since my boys love to read. It doesn’t have an over abundance of writing in it as we are not strong in that subject yet, and need to slowly work on it without frustrating them.
Finally, can we afford the curriculum? There are many excellent choices out there, but some of them cost $500 and on up for one child. That’s just not in our homeschool budget. I have actually never placed an order through Heart of Dakota even though we are using three of their curriculum programs this year. I shopped the online used homeschool boards (awelltrainedmind.com, homeschoolclassifieds,com, diaperswappers.com, and some Facebook groups), and then I ordered a few books from Rainbow Resource when I was at a local homeschool convention so I recieved free shipping.
I’d love to hear what you use as guidelines when picking out curriculum!