Choosing your teaching materials can be an overwhelming decision because there are so many excellent resources and products available and each one claims to be superior to all others. Many veteran homeschoolers would suggest that you stick to a "prepackaged" or traditional curriculum for the first year or so, just until you get the hang of it.
Other parents will encourage new homeschoolers to consider correspondence schools to start with. I don't necessarily agree with these recommendations, because for many it seems to encourage the idea of viewing home schooling as being "school at home" instead of an exciting and enriching lifestyle of learning.
Here are some rules for choosing your teaching materials:
Rule #1: First, you need to consider your situation and budget when it comes to choosing your teaching materials. You can make the most of the real life learning opportunities that are available to you.
Rule #2: Choose the teaching materials that complement both you as the teacher and your child as the learner.
Rule #3: If you don't like the material that you have chosen, you will end up resisting using it no matter how good it is. All teaching materials have a bias in them, not just in the subject matter, but also in the way the subject matter is presented. Every teaching parent, whether he recognizes it or not, has an educational philosophy of their own or some set of values and beliefs about what and how children should be taught. You should be true to those beliefs.
Rule #4: Avoid programs that require a great deal of teacher preparation. Unless you are a researcher-type or high-energy person, you will be extremely irritated by programs that are filled with detailed teacher's manuals that you need to wade through, supplemental books or seminars that are necessary to fully utilize the program, or lots of activities to prepare beforehand.
Rule #5: It is like the old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover". Expensive does not necessarily mean better. There are $250 reading programs that are loaded with praise and there are those reading programs that cost a mere $25 that are far better. Any dedicated teacher with a good phonics program can teach a child to read and spell well.
Rule #6: You need to be aware that there are various schools of thought when it comes to the teaching of any subject. In math there are programs that are primarily problem solving with manipulatives and there are programs that are primarily problem solving on paper.
Rule #7: you need to realize that people's needs change. What worked one year may not necessarily work the next. Your family's needs and interests will always change and you need to learn to go with the flow. Buy materials that meet your present needs and mold the curriculum to the child's abilities, not the child to the curriculum.
Rule #8: God gave you your children because there is something in YOU that it wants imparted to them. Teaching materials are only meant to be used as tools to help you impart yourself to your children. Your instincts count when it comes to homeschooling.
Rule #9: You will want to remember that teaching materials are often the least important elements of your home school situation. Books are easy to get rid of if they don't work for you, but attitudes and destructive family dynamics are not.
The five major reasons families fail at home education are:
They lack the conviction to continue on through the difficult times;
It is a single parent household or both parents are not in agreement
the children are undisciplined and resist parental instruction;
the parents are undisciplined and cannot handle the added responsibilities
The family has unrealistic expectations or goals that are too high.
As you can see, choosing your learning materials do require thought on your part, but it doesn't have to be harder than it needs to. If you come to realize that your own instincts and abilities are your best assets, you will then know that you need no more than where they lead you.
You Don't Have To Be A PHD To Benefit From Home Schooling!