Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool Curriculum by Subject


Choosing the right homeschool curriculum can be a never-ending, tiresome treasure hunt. And even when you think you’ve settled into something, it continues to change as your students move through the different phases of their education, lives, and needs. But it doesn’t need to be something you dread. In the end, it’s not rocket science and your child’s life is not on the line. 

This post will show you how to cut out the guesswork and simplify the process. But first, let me clarify what I mean by “curriculum”. I’m not referring to a complete set of books or anything specific. You may not even feel the need to buy “curriculum”. 

But you do need resources to teach your children with. Some kind of something. So whatever you end up purchasing, whether it’s brand-new or used, or end up borrowing or finding for free- this is what I’ll be referring to. 


“I have found that the most important curriculum you teach your child is something you can’t buy.”   – Anna Liah


But for the sake of this post, we’ll be talking about books. <





6 Steps to Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum


  1. Consider your children’s ages. 

    1. Their ages depend a lot on the type of curriculum you use. For example, if you have a high schooler, he’ll most likely do more online classes whereas your 1-3rd graders would probably do very little online classes.  It also saves time to do group lessons as much as possible. Check out what we do for group lessons during our morning time. 
    2. A note on grades. I’ve found that grades don’t matter as much in homeschooling as they do in public school. What seems to matter more is their ability level and as homeschoolers we have the freedom to teach them pretty much whatever we want. For example, it just so happens that my 3rd grader does the same spelling and math as my 5th grader so I’m not going to keep him at a 3rd-grade level. In this case grade doesn’t matter, however, it does matter most when it’s time to test, when, and if your state requires it. 
  2. Consider your children’s learning needs and styles. 

    1. Do your children have special needs like dyslexia or do they struggle with reading comprehension? Find something that caters to that. A “need” doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. He may be “ahead” of his peers and have a need to be challenged more than average. He may need to take AP classes in preparation for college. 
    2. As for their styles, are they hands-on, visual, or auditory?  Figuring out how they learn best will save you time and frustration. The point is to work with their gifts rather than against them. On the other hand, don’t wear yourself out trying to please your child’s every whim. Whatever you choose for them will not always be easy or something they love. As they progress through the curriculum, they’ll be challenged and rightly so. 
  3. Consider your teaching and homeschooling style. 

    1. Do you want to be hands-on and in-charge of their schooling, do you want to be involved but have someone else lay out the scope and sequence and guide your daily steps or do you want to be involved as little as possible? 
    2. There are also different homeschooling styles to consider listed below. Using the process of elimination made it easier for me to decide. I knew unschooling, traditional, and unit studies were not for me personally. I fell in love with the Charlotte Mason method (though it takes a lot of the teacher’s time and attention). Choose what works for you
      1. Classical method
      2. Charlotte Mason
      3. Unit studies
      4. Unschooling
      5. Traditional
  4. Consider your personal needs. 

    1. Are you working? Do you have babies underfoot? Are you taking care of elderly parents? Do you need to be a part of a Co-op for that extra support and guidance? How much time do you really have to homeschool? Also, do you have religious needs? Is it important to use a curriculum with a Biblical worldview or not? 
  5. Consider your budget.

    1. Whether your budget is large or small, you can make this work. We’ve been homeschooling since 2012 and have been on a budget most of the time. If you have generous funds then skip this. But if you have a smaller budget, don’t fret. You can find second-hand books on eBay, Amazon, or at curriculum fairs. Borrow from the library or find used book stores in your area. I prefer to buy used because then I’m not giving my kids brand-new books only to have my child wear them out. 
  6. Check out the reviews

    1. Cathy Duffey has hundreds of curriculum reviews. I usually like to check a few different reviews per product and once I hear the answer to my questions, I make a decision and move onto the next thing. You can also find reviews on youtube from unbiased people or Amazon. In the end, it’s a guessing game and an experiment because it’s not easy to tell if it will be a good fit for your child.
    2. Eight years later I’m still disappointed with certain purchases and never once have I chosen what my child needs and then get to take a break from changing something. For example, we started off with Khan Academy math at the beginning of the year and really enjoyed it. Six months later, my kids joined a co-op and switched to Saxon and Dive Interactive math which they enjoyed as well, though it’s definitely been more challenging.


BONUS STEP: Consider your parenting style

Are you open to personal growth and change? This step isn’t crucial to choosing the right homeschool curriculum, but it definitely will help with homeschooling in general. It’s also something I never thought about until later years and could’ve eliminated a lot of frustration. There are four parenting styles that make parenting easier or harder.

At the beginning of my parenting career, I exhibited both the authoritarian and authoritative style, but much more of the first. Though I played with my kids a lot and was intentional about quality time and teaching life skills, I was strict about discipline and obedience and tended to be very angry and domineering. I confess that I was quite legalistic and ungracious, which didn’t help when homeschooling my first child who is a lot like me. 

We argued and butted heads a lot. If only I had known the parenting style I was naturally practicing back then, I would’ve been able to make some personal changes early on. After many years and daily small moments of practicing the authoritative style, I can say that I homeschool more from a state of rest and joy than authority.

Find out what your style is. If you tend to be the “uninvolved” parent, then an online curriculum will probably work better than a hands-on one. If you’re more of a permissive parent, then (as you possibly learn to become more authoritative) find a self-directed curriculum that will make it easier for your child to take charge of their school and time.  It will make your homeschool better. 


“The most important work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home”  -Harold Lee
choosing the right homeschool curriculum


What I’ve Learned About Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum

  • Please don’t feel like you have to buy a complete curriculum set. Usually, a complete set wouldn’t fit your child’s every need anyway. We homeschool the “eclectic way”, which means I use a broad range of resources and ideas from different places. 
  • Embrace that you most likely will not “camp” on one curriculum for your child’s whole education or even for more than a few years if that. If you do find something that works for your family and use it for years, I congratulate you. You’re one of the blessed few. 
  • Don’t beat yourself up if something’s just not working and you want to ditch it but are feeling guilty. It’s okay. It’s all an experiment. 
  • At the same time, don’t say “how high?” just because your child says “jump”. Does that make sense? My teen told me that he didn’t like a curriculum for the 2nd time in a row. If it’s hard, it doesn’t always mean it’s wrong. Things need to be challenging or they’ll never progress to the next level. Sometimes I consider what they have to say and other times I have more insight than they do and stick to my instinct. 
  • Do not compare your homeschool to public school. It’s not the same at all. And don’t use public school as your standard. 

“Eudcation is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”   -Y.B. Yeats


Should I Toss a Curriculum if it’s Not Working? 


Whether or not to keep a curriculum is always a dilemma at one point or another. But remember that it’s your school. Please don’t feel like a prisoner to other people’s opinions.

But before you toss a resource, find out why it’s not working. Is it the curriculum or your child? If it’s the curriculum, think outside the box and make some changes. Possibly use it less than suggested, or cut out the parts you think might be unnecessary or don’t suit your needs. 

If it’s your child that’s not working well with the resource then get to the root of the problem. Is he unmotivated to give his best, to work harder, to practice more self-directed learning? Deal with those issues. Stand firm in your conviction yet don’t be too prideful to bend for the sake of your child’s heart. 


how to choose the right curriculum


“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”



Download the free kit above. I created it just for you to choose the right curriculum because choosing the right curriculum is a never-ending treasure hunt and experiment. Embrace the fact that it’s an ongoing process and it’s okay. Your students will continue to change and grow through the different seasons of life.

Make sure that you “make the curriculum fit the child, rather than make the child fit the curriculum”. Find resources that work for your family by going through the list I’ve given you above. 

Be flexible, however, don’t get into the habit of changing something just because your child wants you to. They won’t always love every subject or book and it’s okay. But I would suggest that if it brings sincere tears and dismay, consider going slower, taking a break from it, or finding something that suits their needs better. 


“Homeschooling allows you the freedom to step off the highway of learning and take a more scenic route along a dirt road.”

– Tamara L. Chilver


Don’t be a slave to the curriculum. Allow it to serve you. Not the other way around. The best part about homeschooling is having the freedom to lay a feast of learning before your children and to enjoy the process. Give them a desire to learn so they will become life-long learners. If you’re interested, check out why we homeschool. It may surprise you. 


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