This fall officially marks my twenty-first year as a mother and my sixteenth as a
curriculum-purchasing homeschooler. I am also a renegade at heart, which means I’m
hesitant to do what I’m told, what everyone else is doing, or anything that comes in a
box. I also spent a year as a curriculum reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse magazine.
Those facts mean I’ve had quite an opportunity to sample many homeschooling products
over the years.
Here’s your upcoming problem, as I see it. You will open the homeschool magazine,
or curriculum catalog, or the door of the convention vendor hall, and your eyes will
automatically glaze over. All the books will be shiny. There will be no bent pages, pencil
marks, or baby spit on them. The children in the advertisements and banners will have
clothes on, and their hair will be combed. They will be sitting with their hands folded,
looking adoringly at their mothers, as if to say, “Oh yes, dear mother! Please tell us more
about the avoidance of dangling participles!”
“Sounds good,” you say! “What’s the problem?” you ask!
I’ll tell you the problem: you do not live in a curriculum ad or vendor hall. You live in
your home, with your living, breathing, mess-making, sinful children. And they don’t
read curriculum catalogs.
So … what’s a mom to do in the face of all the shiny promise of advertisements which
sing their siren songs every spring? How are you to determine which curriculum will be
right for your family, come the reality of fall?
I’ve come up with a few simple hints which can help. Whether you’re talking grammar,
math, science, history, or any other subjects’ curriculum, I believe these tips will steer you in
the right direction as you navigate the upcoming storm:
- If it makes you squeal when you see it, buy it.
- If it makes your children smile when they look it over, buy it.
- If you can use it with more than one child, buy it.
- If you can use it for more than one year, buy it.
- If it points your family to Jesus, buy it.
- If you can use it with a group of moms and children you love, buy it.
- If it fosters creativity, imagination, and deep thinking, buy it.
This next set of tips is to tell you which products to steer AWAY from:
- If lots of your friends are using it but a look at the teacher’s guide makes you cry, put it back.
- If you’ve used it three other times and always ended up pitching it, but it’s highly reviewed and you’re tempted to try it one more time, put it back.
- If the price makes steam come from your husband’s ears, put it back.
- If you wouldn’t want to read or use it if you were a student, put it back.
- If it calls for expensive, elusive, extensive, or exclusive equipment or materials, put it back.
- If the author claims it’s the only product in that category which is guaranteed to work, put it back.
All these are (slightly) tongue in cheek, of course. Your very best guide to what’s
right for your family is your knowledge of each individual child plus the Holy Spirit’s
guidance. He will steer you in the truly right direction—just make sure to ask … and
See you in the vendor hall, friend! Happy Shopping!
Misty Krasawski is the overly-blessed mom of eight children whom she homeschools in sunshine-y Florida. She has been clinging ferociously to the hand of her Lord since she was knee-high to a grasshopper, homeschooling for the past thirteen years, and has eighteen more years ahead of her with the children who are glad she will have done most of her experimenting on those who went before. Her wonderful husband Rob has much treasure laid up for him in heaven for having been called to such a daunting task. After the house goes to sleep she can sometimes be found gathering her thoughts at www.encouragingheartsathome.com.