Choosing Curriculum

Email of the Day:
How to I pick out a curriculum for my 8th grade son?

There are as many ways to go about this homeschooling thing as there are homeschool kids.
We didn’t use a curriculum at all, so I’m going to give you principles instead of particular choices.

Some preliminary considerations:
1) Expect there to be a transition period. Expect up to a month per year of school he’s been in. Expect the transition to be harder for you than for him.
2) If he plans to attend a public highschool in WA, remember that WA State History is a graduation requirement that is generally offered in 7th or 8th grade, and not at the highschool. You can attend part time to gain this requirement if he didn’t get it last year.

About choosing curriculum:
1) You can spend a lot of money on curriculum that’s a bad fit for you and yours. Get your hands and eyes on things before plunking down the credit card.
2) Your 8th grader should have “buy in” to any curriculum you choose. It’s his education to take, and not really yours to give — the more ownership of it that he has, the better the education will be, the more he will get from it, and the less friction you will experience in your relationship.
3) Your local homeschool group is the best place to get your hands on curriculum between conventions. Ask what people love and what they hate — and why. They why lets you know that what they hated is perfect for you — and then they’ll sell it to you cheap.
5) Don’t overlook your local libraries as a great source for curriculum. This includes the college and university libraries in your area. Most will extend cards to community members (sometimes they charge a fee). Colleges and Uni with education programs will have extensive collections of curriculum for their students (and you!) to borrow. Both will also have real books, which can provide as good (or, I’d argue, a better) education.
6) I have never felt money spent on any of the following was a waste: museum passes, bus passes, plays, field trips, travel, concerts, theatre, etc. Don’t discount the value of experience, even our homeschool law emphasizes its importance:
RCW 28A.200.020 states that “parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent except for matters specifically referred to in Chapter 28A.225 RCW.

The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.”
Let me know as you have more questions.
~Jen GS, Advocacy Chair