As we cruise through the summer, if you’re feeling unsure about how to prepare for your school year, know that you’re not alone! Many homeschooling families are making plans this time of year, deciding what worked well in the past, or what changes they want to make for the upcoming year. If this is your first year, and you’re wondering how to navigate the landscape of curriculum planning, we’re here to help.

First things first: know that it doesn’t all have to be perfectly planned before the school year starts in August! Many homeschool families find it beneficial to do a “soft start,” beginning with a simplified routine, or shorter school day, or even starting with only a single subject. This allows your kiddos and you to adjust to what homeschooling feels like without the added pressure of having to check all of the boxes all at once. Give yourself permission to start with one or a couple things at a time if that will help you acclimate.

Next, if you’re wondering how to even go about choosing curriculum, we have lots of resources to help you! Curriculum options are plentiful and diverse. As you’re surveying the many textbooks and programs available, there are some important questions you should consider to help you find the programs that will fit your family:

What format works well for your child?

For example, do you feel like they’ll learn best interacting with hands-on manipulatives? Do you want them to be able to be self-directed and independent? Would you prefer a curriculum that involves you reading aloud to them from literature or curriculum guides? Would your child benefit from video instruction? There’s no wrong way to go about it, but knowing what type of program you’re looking for will help you know where to start looking.

As you hone in on what format of curriculum you want, many of the excellent options out there are available at the Lending Library for you to review and even check out for the year! Take advantage of our library events, like the Curriculum Night and Back to School Open House, and our open library hours this summer to get a real look at the curriculum you are considering so that you can decide whether it might be a good fit for your child.

What format works well for you?

This is a factor many new homeschoolers forget to consider, but it’s essential. After all, you’re the one that has to make this happen! It’s important to think about what you will and won’t enjoy doing, as well as what will be logistically helpful or challenging for your family.

Another great opportunity this summer to get your hands on programs that you think you might want to try is our Brighter Child events in July and August. Register for a time to come to the store, shop and choose curriculum and books, and take them home the same evening!

How much time will it take?

Does the science curriculum you’re considering take five days a week to complete? If so, how does that fit into your day with your other subject areas? How much time do you want to spend on school and on each subject each day? Do you need to leave room in your schedule for homeschool co-ops, regular field trips, or other family activities?

What will it look like to use this program with more than one child?

Many families are homeschooling multiple children in different grades, so this is an important logistical piece to consider. Are you looking at a curriculum that requires significant one-on-one instruction for each child? What parts of the curriculum can one student do independently while you’re working with another student? What subjects can be taught together, and how does the curriculum support that?

As you can see, there are many factors that parents consider, and they can be as diverse as each homeschooling family. If this is your first year and you’re feeling like you just don’t know what you don’t know, or if you’re in a new season of homeschool and trying to solve for new factors, a round-table discussion with other families in the same boat might help! Parent support staff will be hosting topic-specific discussions and Q&A at the Parent Orientations at our Curriculum Night and Back to School Open House events. Come ask your questions, and find out how other parents have approached similar ones, so you can feel equipped with the answers that are specific to your school year and family.

We are here to help support you in setting yourself up for an awesome, successful year!