How to Choose the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family
Here are just a few among the many available options for families considering homeschooling.
My husband and I decided on homeschooling our children from the earliest months of my first pregnancy. We spent the years leading up to her kindergarten year looking into programs and various curricula.
Chances are, if you are reading this, the decision to homeschool has been a sudden one due to restrictions put in place by the pandemic. Whether you are ready to switch over forever or just as long as the COVID-19 restrictions last, here is a list of things to think about, resources and curricula that can help you find the best fit for your family.
The first thing to think about is the approach you want to take to your child’s education. If your goal is to make it as much like traditional schooling, then you want to look at the traditional curriculum options. Perhaps your school does a classical approach, or you have always wanted that for your kids; if so, then looking at those options would be perfect for you. Or maybe you have heard about Charlotte Mason or want a unit study with all grade levels on the same topic but at their own level.
Another thing to think about is whether you want a boxed curriculum, with online help and even outside graders, or if you want to pick and choose from different curricula and do all the grading yourself. Further, it is important to be aware of your state’s regulations on homeschooling and make sure you follow the laws.
The following options are just a few among the many available options for families considering homeschooling.
A traditional curriculum basically takes what your child would experience in a traditional school setting and makes it homeschool friendly.
Catholic Heritage Curricula is a curriculum where you order all of the books and do your own teaching and grading at home. It covers all the core subjects. You could also choose to do some subjects from CHC and pick others from different curricula.
Seton Home Study School is an accredited Catholic curriculum and school. You enroll into the school and do all of your subjects with the school. This makes it easier to transfer your children in and out of traditional schools.
Our Lady of the Rosary is another curriculum and school in which you enroll your child and receive all of the materials.
The classical approach is based in the classics such as language, literature and history of ancient Greece and Rome, focusing on the liberal arts and grammar. Many of the curricula in this category are taught in a traditional schooling method while others are not.
Kolbe Academy is a Catholic program that describes itself as classic and contemporary. It has options to enroll and receive grades and transcripts, but also has a bookstore that one can purchase materials from. Further, there are online course offerings.
Mother of Divine Grace School is a K-12 Catholic classical program that is accredited and provides transcripts and diplomas. It is based on the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist.
Aquinas Learning is a classical and Catholic integrated curriculum that is set in a three-year cycle. All children are covering the same content but for their appropriate level, from pre-K to 12th grade. There are in-person learning centers that meet once a week in several cities, but you can also simply purchase the curriculum and do it at home.
Angelicum Academy is an online school and a classical Catholic curriculum you can use on your own at home that is based in the “Great Books” for high school, as listed by Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins, and for elementary school the “Good Books,” as listed by John Senior.
Well-Trained Mind is another classical curriculum, and while not specifically Catholic, it has many elements of a classical education. Many homeschoolers use the history curriculum The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.
Charlotte Mason was an Anglican at the turn of the 20th century whose approach to education many Catholic homeschoolers have found appealing and very compatible with Catholicism. A fellow homeschooling friend of mine, Jenni Mass of St. Paul, Minnesota, explained that Charlotte Mason’s approach is rooted in “an understanding that all that is true, good and beautiful is for everyone and should be laid out as a banquet for the education, formation and edification of all children.”
Ambleside Online is a Christian website with free recommendations of books and how to teach according to this method for each grade level.
Mater Amabilis is a Catholic curriculum using the Charlotte Mason approach. It is also free.
Salt and Light is another Catholic curriculum heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason and also Marie Montessori and the Waldorf approach to learning.
Doing a Unit Study is another alternative to traditional school formats. They focus on one subject for four to five weeks at a time and then move on to the next one. They are nice for families because, like some of the above curricula, all of the family is on the same topic, but at different levels. Two examples that are not Catholic but Christian are Gather ‘Round Homeschool and Tapestry of Grace.
If you want more details on these curricula or want to see the hundreds of other options out there, I highly recommend the PDF book How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum by homeschool curriculum expert Cathy Duffy as an affordable, easy way to learn about the different methods. We used her book to find what works for our family and always look at her curriculum reviews, which can be found on her website, when we are thinking about switching curricula.