Summary: Once the decision is made to homeschool, the next major issue is which curriculum or methodology to use. While there are pros and cons for every option, this article will focus on homeschooling with a packaged curriculum. A packaged curriculum will usually include all the books, lesson plans, and scope and sequence planning needed for an entire school year. Some providers also include additional services for enrolled families. These services can include counseling, grading...
Once the decision is made to homeschool, the next major issue is which curriculum or methodology to use. While there are pros and cons for every option, this article will focus on homeschooling with a packaged curriculum.
A packaged curriculum will usually include all the books, lesson plans, and scope and sequence planning needed for an entire school year. Some providers also include additional services for enrolled families. These services can include counseling, grading, report cards, and even diplomas. While this path is often more expensive, there is the advantage of having everything already planned out in advance. This alone is a great time saver, which becomes more of an issue when there are several children being homeschooled in one family.
Another point to consider is accreditation. When a program is accredited, it means that it has been reviewed by an outside agency or committee and has been determined to meet certain standards. Why would this be important? This will help greatly when time comes to apply to college. If the student has a high school diploma from an accredited high school, there should be much less difficulty proving to admissions offices that a high school education has indeed been completed. Also, credits may be more easily transferred to another school if necessary.
When we first decided to educate our children at home, I was faced with researching and planning what to cover in a school year for four children - grades 6, 4, 2, and preschool - with about a month to have it complete. The packaged curriculum I chose from Seton Home Study School proved to be invaluable. As I was brand new at this, I honestly did not know where to start. The more I read about the various educational methodologies and the limitless choices of textbooks, the more I realized it would make more sense to enlist the help of a company with many years of experience.
By using a prepared curriculum, I can be assured that each child is covering all the most important topics and acquiring the necessary skills. The lesson plans do just that - plan out each lesson for us, including many suggestions for additional activities and enrichment. They also include many recommended resources, especially pertinent websites for further study.
One of the chief complaints about packaged curricula is that they are not very flexible, and tend to be quite rigid regarding what to do when. Our experience thus far has not been so. The program we use emphasizes that parents should adjust the program to fit the child, not the child to fit the program. In reality, nothing is actually "required." We can use or skip any suggestions we choose. The only true requirements exist only if you want an actual report card or diploma. Certain assignments must be completed and submitted in order to verify completion of the material. I find that keeping a portfolio of work that has been graded by an outside party is a good "insurance policy" against the regulations imposed by our state.
While I readily admit that not everyone will work well with a packaged curriculum, this option does provide many advantages. For anyone who is just starting out and has little or no experience working out a plan of study, a prepared curriculum provides a solid beginning and helps the parent learn more too. Many families will start with a complete packaged curriculum, and then as time goes by, they start making modifications and adjustments as they gain experience and confidence. As can be seen, the many packaged curricula available today can prove to be a very useful tool for many home schooling families.