While your state is very likely to determine the subjects that you must teach, the type of homeschool curriculum you may use may be guided by the state, subject to their review, or pretty much up to you. This article provides an overview of different types of homeschool curriculum.
Some companies offer a full homeschool curriculum. This may include not only core subjects like math, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, science, and social studies, but also electives such as the arts and foreign language, as well as non-core, but required courses such as health. It depends on the company which grades might be covered. These packages can cost upwards of $1000 per year per child, so you’ll want to research them carefully before using them. See the article “Best Homeschool Curriculum” for more information about how to make an informed choice.
With these companies, it’s important to make sure that every aspect of the homeschool curriculum is a good fit. A program with a narrow perspective – from any faith – may not do justice to the complexities of world affairs in which people of different faiths and belief systems interact. Similarly, a secular program may not provide much insight into the history of religion and faith.
The pedagogical approach is important as well. Just because the reading program is suitable for your child doesn’t mean that the science program is. In addition, if the homeschool curriculum takes a particular approach, such as being literature or text-based, it may not be the best approach for teaching biology or chemistry, which are lab-based sciences.
Free Homeschool Curriculum Programs
Sometimes you get what you pay for, and free worksheets and other free curricula may be disjointed and never add up to a full experience in any subject. In addition, some learning simply requires a length of text or a type of activity that a worksheet cannot convey. Because of the length restrictions, worksheet collections may tend towards being a mass of trivia, rather than an education. Even grouped in units, the length and medium still influence and restrict the content. It may be easy to find and free, but it may not serve your child well.
For example, I just examined a worksheet “thematic unit” on The Age of Discovery (http://www.schoolexpress.com). Twenty-some explorers are covered in a single paragraph each, barely touching on their dates and accomplishments, let alone providing any depth or context. Spelling words are shown incorrectly spelled, which is considered bad pedagogy. A number of terms are introduced without being defined, and there is no reference to imperialism or what is now understood to be the genocide perpetrated by Columbus, which might be handled in some fashion, even for the 7-9 year olds that the worksheets are purportedly for. In addition, the name of Columbus’s ship the Niña is misspelled. Other thematic units, lessons plans, and resources are available at The Teacher’s Corner – theteacherscorner.net/
Keep in mind though thtat imilar critiques of narrowness and limitations can be aimed at other free programs, including ones from times past, in which more recent understandings and discoveries are not represented. such as the old McGuffy Eclectic readers, which can be found through Project Gutenberg – onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu
or other one-approach program or out-dated, written from a perspective or in language that is no longer standard, and far from eclectic in the Twenty-first century.
Mix and Match Homeschool Methods
Speaking of eclectic, some home schoolers, in an approach sometimes referred to as eclectic, may elect to mix and match methods to create the best fit for their student(s). This is not surprising because if you look at any public or private school curriculum not following a single publisher, you will likely find the same thing: different materials are presented differently, with approaches and pedagogy fitting the student’s level of development and the subject matter at hand.
One thing you may wish to do is gain a perspective on the range of materials that are available by looking at a site like amazon.com or the Home School Curriculum Fair – curriculumfair.us/enterfair/index.htm