Expert Advice

Should I Buy a Homeschooling Curriculum?

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q
How should I start homeschooling my daughter? I have seen ads on the Internet for homeschooling programs that charge a fee each month, and the county where I live has sent me their information on homeschooling for free. Is there a difference?
A
Selling homeschool curricula has become a very big business. Glossy, expensive ads and assurances of a "top-quality" education jump off the pages of homeschooling magazines and newspapers, as well as the Internet. Certain religious leaders and others prominent in the homeschool community speak at homeschool conferences stressing the need for a specialized curriculum or special online classes. What they fail to mention is that they are often on the payroll (if not the owner!) of that particular cyberschool or curriculum supplier.

The simple truth is, you do not need to buy a curriculum for your daughter. I have homeschooled for more than ten years and have never used a curriculum. We use the library, trade resources with other families that homeschool, use the Internet, and set up classes and activities according to our kids' interests and abilities. I frequently browse sites offering used curriculum packages. Many of the sellers describe their used curricula as "like new" or "never used." I have to smile and think, "Well, there's someone else who is out $600 and learned the hard way!"

For practical ideas about getting started homeschooling your daughter, please visit our How to Homeschool Information Center. For a review of popular curricula choices, read Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum. Good luck!

Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.

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