Step Two: Decide Which Books and Supplies to Use
I'm not going to kid you, choosing books when you are unfamiliar with the choices is difficult. It's like dressing in the dark. Your choices might be turn out to be great or not so great, but hopefully, you will be covered. For now, if you have completed Step One: Subjects and Goals, get your list. How will you get your books? Will you go to a curriculum fair? Will you go online? A mixture of both? Some online stores, such as ChristianBook.com, allow you a glimpse at the inside of many of the books that they carry. They carry many of the popular homeschool titles as well as some that you have never heard of and at a good price. Just about every knows that Amazon.com allows a glimpse inside many books. Or you could buy a packaged curriculum and you are done! Here is a list of packaged [boxed] curriculum linked to various places.
If you have a homeschool friend, see if you can look at her books. If you do not know anyone who homeschools, consider buying a homeschool book-review book. (That is what I did because I did not know any homeschoolers at the time.) Of course, even having such a book is not a perfect solution, but it helps a little. I used Christian Home Educators' Curriculum Manual: Elementary Years and it is quite worn and out of print. The internet helps. Web sites such as Amazon.com and ChristianBook.com, allow people to review the books.
Two paths are available to you, Grade Level and Purpose Guided / Eclectic. Naming one "purpose guided" does not in any way indicate that purposes are better served with this path. It's just a descriptive term that indicates a purpose is present that is beyond the typical scope and sequence.
- Grade Level: Boxed curriculum and grade labeled books
-Child pulled out of system- If you are homeschooling a child that you have pulled out of the system, then chances are small that grade level will be perfect, even if your child was at the top of his class. Don't worry; expect that the first year might be bumpier than you think it should be.
- Purpose Guided / Eclectic: This path is a mixture of core requirements flavored with your child's particular needs, interests, and gifts. This path is why some parents choose to homeschool. Make your lists of goals, objectives, purposes, (whatever you want to call them) and use your lists to select a variety of curriculum, library books, Internet resources, and bookstore books.
What is eclectic? Eclectic is when the homeschool parent does not use a boxed curriculum for all subjects. By defining eclectic, I am not knocking boxed. Eclectic is when the homeschool parent decides to use books from different publishers. The books can be curriculum and they can be just books like the type found in libraries and bookstores.
I was an eclectic homeschooler. I started out that way simply because, at the time, I did not know that boxed existed. I certainly worked in some boxed curriculum along the way.
I use the curriculum planner to write the names of the books that I think I want to buy, where I can get them and how much they cost.
Selecting books is part of your job. You can choose a curriculum that has been assembled for you or you can choose individual books. Do the best you can, learn from your mistakes and move on. It's not a big deal.
If you can [but if you can't, don't worry. I didn't have the chance to do this until after I had homeschooled for a few years.]
1. Meet with other homeschoolers to talk about books and to look at their books.
2. Attend a curriculum fair.
Or use online bookstores like
ChristianBook.com where you can see inside many of the books. That is almost as good as a curriculum fair, and you can browse at home at your convenience.
Most of all, do your best. Math books seem to be the hardest books to choose. Other subjects can usually be adjusted to your child's learning style.
Related: Curriculum Fair
A curriculum fair is an annual event that you can attend for an admission fee. There, you can see all sorts of books and listen to lectures about various homeschool topics. All states have them. If you do not know where or when, open a search engine and enter the search terms:
Be prepared, curriculum fairs can be overwhelming. I wrote this web page many years ago to help homeschoolers prepare for a fair.
(Surviving) The Curriculum Fair