Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homeschool Curriculum Options

So a friend of mine just asked me about homeschooling and had quite a few questions about how I go about homeschooling our family.  So I decided to write todays post about some of the questions that she asked when considering homeschool. 

A couple of her main questions were: What's the difference between the different types of boxed curriculums and how do you go about choosing your own curriculum if you decide to go it alone. So first off let me just state that I am not an expert at all things homeschool. What I am about to say is purely what I have learned over the past 5+ years of homeschooling. And there are pros and cons to each of these options. We simply do what works best for our family. And if you decide to homeschool that's what you'll need to decide as well.
So let's start off with the boxed curriculums. 
First, there are state run curriculums. And because they are run by the state you essentially get all your materials for free. Your tax dollars that go toward education and what would be used if your child went to public school are used to pay for this option. So that is a definite plus. The negative to this option, in my humble opinion, is that it is a state run program. I have done this option and I did not like the feeling of the state running how I was "supposed" to be educating my child. I'm going to stop there because I don't want this to become a political debate.  Anyways, as homeschooling laws get more and more picky, these state run programs get more and more picky about what you have to do at home as far as reporting and such. Also, you are stuck with what they send you as far as learning materials. Example: My oldest daughter has definite ADD tendencies and not all of their curriculum fit her needs.  So we moved to a different option. But I know lots of people that this option works really well for them so again it's all about what works for you and your family. 
Here are a couple state run boxed curriculum options (these are for Washington State, so if you live in a different state you'll have to check what your state has to offer):
WAVA(Washington Virtual Academy)
Columbia Virtual Academy(they offer the Calvert Curriculum)

Some other boxed sets are available that are not state run are also an option. A couple of pros to this option are that it's not run by the state and everything is laid out for you i.e. materials, lesson plans, etc. Some cons are that they can be VERY expensive, especially with multiple children and again you are stuck with what they send you. So if for some reason the math program just isn't a good fit for your child, that's too bad, you've already paid for it.
Some non-state funded curriculums are:
BJU Press

So there is a light and brief reading on some of the different boxed sets you can take a gander at. Now there is also the option of a state run and funded program that gives you an allotment of funds per child to go towards their educational materials that you choose (sort of). I say sort of because again this is a state run program so it has to fit within their boundaries. Meaning it can't be of a religious nature and anything you purchase or use your funds for has to be equal to that of which is offered to regular public school children. That was not always the case. Again, as homeschool laws get more and more infringed upon we have less and less freedoms, but again I don't want this to turn political, so I will move on!
I have done this option also and at first it was a great fit, but as the state got more and more involved it got to be more and more of a hassle. You are in contact with a teacher and at the beginning of the year you choose your materials you want to use and then have to make sure they are approved. Then you have to come up with a syllabus outlining the entire year. After that is approved (usually with multiple revisions from the teacher) then you have to have weekly contact with that teacher and monthly reports have to be filled out. Anyways, if you are willing to put in all the work and the materials you want are on there approved list than this is a great way to go. The reason I stopped using this option was because I felt like it was becoming more of a hassle than it was worth and most of the things I wanted to use our funds for weren't being covered anymore. So again it's all about what works for YOU!
So here are a couple of state funded programs where you choose the curriculum:
Columbia Virtual Academy
Quilcene HEP Program
So I think that's all I'll write for now! Tomorrow I'll post about what to do if you decide to go the route of choosing your own curriculum. It can feel incredibly overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be! 

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