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  " Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. "
-- William Butler Yeats


A curriculum is the set of tools that you use to teach with. Picking a curriculum is one of the hardest parts when you first start to homeschool. There are just so many choices available and companies more than willing to take your money. There are religious and secular curriculums. There are online and print based curriculums. There are literally HUNDREDS of them to choose from. A quick search on Google will make even the calmest of us get freaked out with all the choices.

Here is what I suggest. Figure out what you want to teach. For a lot of people, that is 'grade level curriculum'. Figure out how best your child learns. You can google for "learning styles inventory" to learn more. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a site that I think is a good recommendation. But simply, if your kid is a workbook learner, look for those. Alot of kids like those "Everything You Need to Know For Grade _" ones that you can buy at Costco. My kids learn best online. I like that I don't have to grade or plan. The program does it for me. The program also gives me a nice little scope and sequence and monthly report that I can print for my records. (Don't worry, Nevada does not require you to submit a portfolio, I just like to) For that reason, we use Time4Learning My oldest wants more math then that so we also use Math-U-See which is DVD/workbook based. He really likes it. My younger didn't. It is important to realize that you don't have to pick just one company. Mix and match to get what your kids need. It is also important to remember that works for your kids this year may not next. We do a lot of real life activities. We go on tons of 'fieldtrips' and read lots of books. We do a lot of science experiments (mentos and diet coke, anyone?)

Reading other peoples experience with curriculum will save you a lot of time and money. I recommend that you join this Yahoo Group: A Homeschool Review to get more advice. It is an active group with lots of discussion. Don't try to take it all in at once. In fact, what I do is wait until something interests us then I go there to search for discussions on it.

Here are some of the big names in homeschool curriculum right now in no particular order:

  • Time4Learning - online program that my kids use. I highly recommend this.
  • Math-U-See- DVD/Workbook/Manipulative's based. I think it is great program.
  • K12 - online curriculum. Very comprehensive. Nevada Virtual Academy uses this.
  • Singapore Math- I *believe* this is a more advanced math curriculum but I don't have experience with it. It has a good reputation among homeschoolers.
  • Sonlight Curriculum - Christian based complete curriculum.
  • ABeka-Christian based complete curriculum.
  • Alpha Omega-Christian based complete curriculum.

In addition, there are two Learning Stores in town where you can go and look at things. Neither of them carry the above curriculums (that I know of) but they have lots of things you can piece together yourself.

  • Lakeshore Learning-I think this is the better of the two companies we have here for homeschoolers. The have a lot of hands on activities and my boys will look around here more as it is child friendly. I have been told the manager is a homeschool mom.
  • Learning is Fun-This has long been nicknamed by teachers as "Learning is Expensive". This is truly a classroom teachers store. They cater to that market. That is not to say that you can't find some great stuff there. I have, but as a former teacher I am very used to the way the store is laid out. My kids don't like coming with me to this one.

There are also two public schools in the area that operate "Virtual Schools". You should know that these are public schools and come with the restrictions that public schools do: mandatory attendance, testing and assignments. For some people these schools are a great service. Others hate them because they are not true homeschooling.

  • Nevada Virtual Academy-I have looked into the Nevada Virtual Academy and decided that it wouldn't work for my family. That doesn't mean it won't work for you though. If you want the K12 Curriculum but price is an issue, this is an option.
  • Odyssey Charter School-I have never looked closely at this but I have a friend who had her two kids in it and was very happy with the program.