Don't read this post if you do not like copyright infringement. This likely violates it somehow.
People are always seem to be asking what curriculum they should use. Usually, the question is just met with more questions... are you looking for secular or religious? How old is your kid? What learning style do they have? What method of homeschooling do you use? Truth is, we do not have the answers, you do.
When the question is asked, I usually post a link to the Rainbow Resources free catalog ordering page. It is huge, has everything in it, and has excellent descriptions of the products! The catalog gets to you faster if you order something and then request the catalog. Otherwise, expect a few weeks to receive this mammoth of catalog. You won't regret ordering it.
While you wait for it, learn all that you can about learning styles and homeschool methods. Books are NOT needed for this. There is TONS of free information online.
I am always tempted to recommend Cathy Duffys 101 Top Picks. Not because you should listen to what her top picks are. I have the book and personally, I think only the first few sections have any real value. All her top picks are online for free. What I can't seem to find on her website for free, is the useful info at the front of her book. If you can find a cheap used copy, then it is worth picking up (in my opinion).
I am going to post some of it here. It isn't all of it.
"It is easy to be intimidated into thinking that your homeschool should mimic those of seasoned veterans."
"But, the real question you really need to consider is whether or not what they are doing is right for you."
"It doesn't take long to figure out that veteran homeschoolers, overall, are very independent and strong minded. Chances are you could poll half a dozen such parents and discover they have half a dozen different ways to homeschool. There is no single right way to homeschool that everyone figures out after a few years."
She asks you to think about various things and then rank them in the order of importance.
"What do you think is most important for your child to learn?" Examples: strong academics, work skills, study habits, love for reading, familiarity with scriptures, physical fitness, artistic expression, practical life skills, computer knowledge, ethical attitudes, etc.
"How do you think learning should happen?" (keeping in mind that this answer is heavily influenced by your child). A quiet studious child might prefer tradiotional or classical education. An active child might prefer more hands on.
"How do you want to teach or operate your school?"
"Do you want to try to teach most or all of your children together? Which subjects?"
"How much of the time do you want (or are you able) to work directly with your child?"
"How much of the time do you expect your children to work independently?"
"Do you want to use real books (biographies, historical novels, books written about particcular topics) as part of your curriculum?
"Do you want to include field trips?"
"Do you like to "make up" curriculum as you go, adapting to the needs and interests of your children, or do you prefer things well planned out in advance?"
"Do you need a set schedule to get things done or would you refer more flexibility?"
"Do you prefer a curriculum that is thoroughly laid out in advance by someone else and that tells you what to do when?"
"Any additional thoughts about how you would want to operate?"
"Writing down your thoughts about the above questions should have helped you clarify some of your goals and preferences."
The next section of the book is called " Approaches To Edeucation". It is a chart that lists various preferences related to homeschooling. You calculate your score at the end and supposingly it tells you the homeschool method that best suits you. I did it three times and it never adds up to the ones that I prefer and use. lol.
Instead, I will list the approaches, you can look them up and see which ones you prefer:
Unschooling or Relaxed schooling
Umbrella School / Charter school
She doesn't include all the options. Off hand, I notice that she is excluding Waldorf.
She has a section where she has good info about each of these methods. However, you can find ALL of this info, online, for free.
Then she asks more questions...
"How much confidence and/or experience do you have regarding homeschooling?" She says that she asks this because you need to know that you might get overwhelmed if you choose create your own lessons (or etc) for the first year.
"How much time do you have available to work directly with your kids (do school with them) AND plan / research their lessons?"
"How much money can you spend?"
"How do your religious beliefs impact your homeschooling?"
In the next section, she talks about learning styles. She has listed: Auditory, visual, kinesthetic
I want to add that not everyone believes that you should teach to just one learning style / sense. They are used and needed in life. When you go to college, you will need to be able to take in large volumes of text and lectures. If you go to trade school, you will need to do all of those, plus be very hands on with the course. If your boss ask you to do something - you will need to be able to take in auditory directions, most likely. So making sure they are all are trained, seems best (in my opinion).
She then further breaks kids down into types of learners... Wiggly Willy, Perfect Paula, competent Carl, Sociable Sue. I was unable to define my kids - nor myself, using her descriptions here. I am not going to list here all the traits. Here is a very general guideline...
wiggly willy - hands on and multi sensory
perfect paula - structure and rule oriented
competent carl - logical and analytical
sociable sue - social interaction
There are some very small sections regarding learning disabilities and such. All of it is very basic info.
She has a section called "Who should learn what and when?" She lists the common core state standards website, and the dept of education website - as go to resources. There are MUCH better resources than these. Especially for homeschoolers. She then suggests that you list your ideal goals for the year and then compare those to the states goals. (I live in a strict state and I have to teach the main subjects, but I am not told what has to be covered within those subjects - so I doubt any homeschooler is "made" to do this).
The final section before she lists her 101 top picks, is a chart that tries to best match you to a curriculum. She takes what kind of kid you have (wiggly willy, perfect paula, etc) and tells you which curriculums best would work for them.
I was given this book AFTER I bought my curriculum. When I looked, I actually use at least one thing that she has listed for each subject (well almost every subject). I used the chart backwards to see what columns they fell into. Mine showed up mainly as competent carl - but also fell in every other category as well. I don't use a math curriculum this year, doing something outside the box, so I couldn't get a read on that - it is the one I am most torn about buying a curriculum for.
But anyways, hopefully this helps someone else out there.