Unlike early homeschoolers, who suffered from a lack of exciting resources, people that are educating their children today get overloaded with choices and programs.
Today you practically have to swim through a sea of resources- both physical and digital- and figure out what you should use.
How can I find the right resources?
There are so many!
Want a phonics program? You can have Hooked on Phonics, Starfall, A Beka, Bob Books, Zoo Phonics, etc. ad nauseum. Math? Well there is the all-p0werful Saxon, Miquon, Math-U-See, Khan Academy, and more.
Trying to decide on what to use can be confusing, as well as paralyzing, since you plan to invest your precious time and money on something you want to work.
I am going to share some tips to help you not only swim, but sail through the sea of homeschool resources. Starting with this one:
Determine exactly what you need
Spending a little effort to determine what you actually need before you go browsing will save you a lot of headache in the long run. You will have an idea what to look for in a resource that will fit with your goals and your child.
Subject and Method
This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how often we don't think about what topics and methods we need to be looking for. If you are a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, you will want to look for resources that incorporate notebooking, nature studies, and living books. If you stick to a more traditional method, then you need to have an idea of the textbooks and test-prep materials you want to find.
Make a list of the topics you would like to cover, what method you are going to use to introduce it to your kids, and what you would like and not like to see in a resource.
Keep that list with you when you browse in person, or online.
Not only do you want your resources to fit with your method of homeschooling, you want them to fit with your child. If you don't know the different learning styles and which ones your kids rely on, Learning Styles Online has a great overview and a free assessment you can use.
One of the hardest tasks for me as an educator is finding resources that fit with my oldest daughter, who is visual/kinesthetic, and my middle daughter, who is auditory/verbal. When I finally figured out what to look for in resources, it made things a lot easier on all of us.
Level of Difficulty
A workbook that says “5th grade” on it doesn't necessarily make it the right level that your child needs. Grades are general guesses- especially in homeschooling. What one curriculum says is suitable for 1st graders, another will say is for 4th graders. There is no set body of skills or information that each child needs to aquire at each age.
So how do you determine the level of difficulty you will need to look for in your resources?
Know your child- and follow their lead.
This sounds extremely hard, but it is actually much easier than trying to force your child to fit into some curriculum that doesn't go at their speed or is way too easy for them. You will both get frustrated, and end up doing “busywork” rather than experiencing joyful learning.
Take your list of subjects and notate what your child already knows about the topic, what skills they have acquired, what they might like to learn more about, and also list their learning styles and what ways they enjoy receiving information.
- Math- Denna 7 years old
- Auditory/Verbal learner- might enjoy music, video, counting objects, reading books about math
- Knows how to add, count to 100, skip count by 2's and 5's, knows platonic solids and polyhedrons, likes measuring
- Might want to learn more about angles, vertices's, subtraction, fractions, multiplication, circles
- Look for visuals and interactive resources online, videos and music
- Look for living books that talk about geometry, arithmetic, and measurement
This list will then help me when I go to the library, the curriculum fair, and browsing online. I can quickly reference it and decide initially whether a resource is going to “fit” with her or not.
By determining exactly what resources I am going to need, I can cut a lot of mindless frustration out of the process.