Ascension thanks heartofamother.net for giving us permission to republish this article.
I’m sorry. I can’t tell you which homeschooling method or program is right for your family.
With some details about you and your children, I can make suggestions or guesses based on my thirteen years of homeschooling experience and sixteen years of researching curriculum options. But you are the only one who can figure out what will work best for your family.
And, often, the best way to do that is trial and error.
I encourage all homeschoolers to constantly evaluate their approach, to identify what’s working and what’s not effective. Your experience teaching your children and your intimate knowledge of their needs are your best tools in choosing curriculum.
But there are other helpful items in my toolbox.
Why Is It So Hard to Choose?
By the time you decide to take the leap of faith into the homeschooling life, you have probably … hopefully collected some information about homeschooling. You might know what a typical day looks like. You might know the homeschooling laws in your state. You might have looked at a few curriculum programs.
All of that information, however, is likely limited to what the homeschoolers in your life have directed you toward. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s simply not a complete picture of homeschooling.
So, one reason it’s so hard to choose a curriculum is that your options are limited.
That can be a good thing if you fall in love with the curriculum options you have seen, and it can result in successful homeschooling if your family is very similar to those who recommended homeschooling to you. But there are lots of options out there!
In fact, there are so many options now that it’s often really hard to choose a curriculum!
What Are My Choices?
My familiarity is with Catholic homeschooling programs. There are excellent Christian and secular programs out there, though, and as long as we avoid any anti-Catholic sentiment or false teachings, there is no harm in using these resources. We simply need to supplement with religious instruction and living the Faith with our children.
Nevertheless, many families feel more comfortable choosing a Catholic homeschooling curriculum, because they don’t feel comfortable or want to make the effort to scrutinize for problematic content. And, as you’ll see below, there are many options that are entirely Catholic where providers have done the work of choosing safe materials for us!
The chart below lists every Catholic homeschooling program that I could find. If I missed one, please let me know! The full chart, with all the details filled in, is available as a downloadable PDF to members of my Facebook group and subscribers to my newsletter (sign up at the bottom of this article on my website!).
How Do I Choose?
Even with all of the details in this chart, it can be tricky to narrow down the options. One approach is to visit every website and read through their descriptions and curricula to see what appeals to you. A mother’s instinct in regards to her children is a God-given gift that can help in this discernment.
We can also take time to familiarize ourselves with the various methods and philosophies of home education. This article is a fantastic and thorough explanation of the most common approaches.
Another way to sort through the options is to take a quiz that assesses your preferences. I especially like this one, because it’s Catholic and specifically names Catholic programs that you might consider investigating. This one is also helpful.
Most homeschooling curriculum providers are also happy to talk to you by phone or email about their particular products. Because these representatives are experts in the materials their company provides, they are often the best ones to respond to very specific questions. Just keep in mind that they are trying to sell you a product and take their insistence that you use their program with a grain of salt!
The best way, in my opinion, is to talk to a variety of homeschooling moms about their programs and methods and what they like about them. As we do this, phrases and resources will be mentioned that appeal to us, and we can trust our intuition that these might work well for our family. These kinds of cultivated conversations are currently happening in my Facebook group here!
And, if you need more individualized, personalized advice, you can learn more about what’s coming soon to Heart of a Mother here!
Which One Is the Right One for My Family?
This is the hardest question.
God made each of your children unique individuals. They have their own personalities, tendencies, virtues, and vices. And Mom has her own strengths, weaknesses, and needs, as well. The physical set up of your home, the ages of your children, Dad’s level of involvement and support all contribute with the above to ensure that no two families in the entire world are going to have the exact same experiences with homeschooling.
Even if two families have children of similar ages and temperaments and choose the same curriculum, chances are, they are going to approach it differently.
And that’s the way it should be.
So choosing a curriculum takes research, but it also takes faith.
We have faith that doing our best and letting God do the rest is enough … is ideal.
We have faith that God is calling us to homeschool our children for this season and will provide the grace we need to do it well.
Because no amount of research or discussion will be the least bit effective if we do not pray about all of our homeschooling decisions.
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.Matthew 7: 7-8
You may also find this infographic created by Molly Bruening to be useful. It sorts through homeschool curriculum options with a focus on Catholic homeschooling:
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Jenny is a Catholic homeschooling mom who is passionate about encouraging and connecting mothers through their homeschooling journeys. She and her husband have been married since 1999 and live in North Texas with their four children, ages 7-17, who have been homeschooled all their lives. Her homeschool philosophy is “whatever works” with a smattering of literature-based learning, Charlotte Mason, and Classical elements. She enjoys tea (hot and sweet), dark chocolate, red wine, college football, and mystery novels and cannot resist an opportunity to coordinate a conference, retreat, co-op, book study, social group, and/or moms night out. She loves to reflect on all aspects of Catholic homeschooling through the lens of our incredible Catholic faith.