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How to Choose the Best Curriculum

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Are you feeling overwhelmed with curriculum research? Choosing the best curriculum for your family can be daunting. But don’t worry, here are five things I like to consider when doing curriculum research for the upcoming school year.  

1. Learning Styles 

When it comes to choosing a curriculum, learning styles are essential to take into account. A learning style is a set of factors, behaviors, and attitudes that facilitate learning for children. The most common learning styles are visual, aural, and kinesthetic. Children with these learning styles learn best by seeing, hearing, and/or moving. Psychologists like Howard Garner have identified at least nine different learning styles. You can read about them here

You might be saying to yourself, “I have no clue what my child’s learning style is.” Don’t worry, all is well. Many curricula on the market are multisensory and work well for different learning styles. The multisensory curriculum offers children more than one way to make connections and learn concepts. Explode the Code, All About Reading, and Math U See are just three multisensory curriculum choices that work well for different learning styles. 

2. Philosophy

Your homeschool philosophy consists of your core values, vision, and mission for home education. Knowing your homeschool philosophy ensures you select a curriculum that best aligns with your homeschool goals. Let’s take a look at different homeschool philosophies. Keep in mind; many parents borrow concepts from various models to create a more eclectic and tailored homeschool philosophy. 

  • Eclectic homeschool: Homeschooling that mixes several different learning styles.
  • Classical education: Teaching according to the phases of a child’s cognitive development.
  • Charlotte Mason: A method that uses real-life experiences to teach children.
  • Unit studies: Studying a specific interest from different angles.
  • Unschooled: Child-led learning that is void of curricula and lesson plans.
  • Traditional: Mimicking teaching styles of public and private schools. 
  • Montessori: Learning that is student-led and self-paced but guided.
  • Whole Child: Fostering the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, creative, and spiritual development of a child. 

3. Relevancy

The applicability and appropriateness of a curriculum to children’s needs, interests, and aspirations are essential. A child’s ability to connect with a curriculum helps foster learning and a deeper understanding of the material. An excellent curriculum keeps pace with the times, includes diverse images and topics, and uses language that resonates with children and inspires learning.

4. Stats

Researching curriculum stats is a great way to ensure you’re choosing the best one for your family. Here are a few stats to consider:

  • How long has the curriculum been on the market? The longer, the better because that means the publishers had time to iron out the kinks.
  • What are the curriculum’s success rates? The better the track record, the more likely you’ll be pleased with the curriculum. 
  • Is the curriculum updated? Curricular updates can introduce important new content and pedagogical enhancements that can improve the quality of learning.

5. Lesson Length

Parents and educators can sometimes overlook lesson length, but it is essential to consider it since the timeframe of a lesson must coincide with a child’s average attention span. For instance, the average first grader only has an attention span of 12 to 18 minutes. A curriculum that requires 40 minutes of lesson time may not be the most appropriate choice and will likely cause frustration and resentment toward learning for the child. Below, is a list of average attention spans for different age groups to consider when researching curriculum. 

  • Two years old: Four to six minutes
  • Four years old: Eight to 12 minutes
  • Six years old: 12 to 18 minutes
  • Eight years old: 16 to 24 minutes
  • Ten years old: 20 to 30 minutes
  • 12 years old: 24 to 36 minutes
  • 14 years old: 28 to 42 minutes
  • 16 years old: 32 to 48 minutes

I hope you feel more equipped to make the best curriculum choice for your family after reading these five tips. Want to read more about curriculum? Discover how to choose the best curriculum for emergent readers here.

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