One of the biggest challenges for homeschooling is determining the most impactful curriculum and then getting it at the best cost to help educate your family. I know I struggled to find the best options for our family. And cost considerations required ingenuity. Yet, sometimes I’d find just the right option that served our family well. With that in mind, Focus on the Family would like to share some creative options for homeschool curriculum that could be a perfect find for your family.
Curriculum and insight for the whole family
A place to learn more about homeschooling and topics of importance are at conventions. Focus on the Family is pleased to have several speakers including President and CEO of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, engaging with the Great Homeschool Convention (GHC) this year. Several of Focus on the Family’s key parenting specialists will speak at the GHC Online Homeschooling Convention. Parents can take advantage of the discount Focus on the Family is offering for convention attendees by going to our store, putting an item or items in the cart and then entering, GHSOH, in the Promo Code box. (Discount available from April 16th through May 15th, 2020.)
Learning about God
It is always a good time to talk about our Heavenly Father. Start with a simple kid Bible. For example, our family read through the Bible and then talked about the lesson learned. In addition, supplement the Bible with good stories such as our Adventures with the King series or Otter B series.
Reading and crafts
A particular challenge, we faced in our family, was keeping young minds occupied while teaching older children. Clubhouse Jr. magazine is a wonderful place to start young readers and their website has activities, crafts and snack ideas just right for a young child.
Likewise, another helpful idea is to start working through emotional instruction with young children. Helping kids know how to label and handle their emotions can bring a lot of peace in the household. A free download, “Managing Those Tricky Emotions”, can help. A handy Adventures in Odyssey chart at the end of the download can be posted on the wall to help identify and express emotions. (Similarly, can also be helpful for older students and parents too!)
Elementary curriculum options
Learning about God
As their world grows, invest in an “older” Bible to help kids on their journey. This is a good time to lay the foundation regarding the truth of God’s word and what it means to follow Christ. Helping kids ask and answer Biblical questions will have many benefits. And it is ok to not have all the answers. Therefore, my response of, “Let’s look that up together” gave us both a chance to learn.
In addition, a fun way to enjoy devotions is having kids listen to the Average Boy podcast. This free podcast will give a lot of laughs while giving insights into the Bible and character development.
Beginning readers will find Clubhouse magazine fun to read. Just like the joy of knowing your kids are eating their veggies, what they are reading from Clubhouse is packed full of godly wisdom. Similarly, your children will enjoy the magazine and not even realize all the godly values they are picking up naturally.
If you have a reluctant reader or even need a wholesome reward, check out our kid friendly, audio drama, Adventures in Odyssey. This can give mom or dad a break without putting kids in front of the TV. The membership offers the best deal and has benefits. (Hint: A gentle reminder or encouragement can be given by picking an episode based off a particular character.)
Speaking of audio dramas, listening to classic literature may make it easier to finish. It can be a great way to learn while on the road. I remember several months we were traveling between the church, group activities, the orthodontist, softball, etc. It helped to us use that time wisely.
In contrast, though, sometimes you want a physical book in front of your children. For that reason, when it is time to snuggle in and read a good book, use this guide to help find good books. (Hint: Many of these books can be found at the local library.)
This is an opportune time to start some basic chores too. While not a traditional curriculum, think of it like the home economics classes from the past. We are raising future adults who will need to know how to do the laundry, clean the bathroom, mop, etc. “Age-Appropriate Chores” can help instill responsibility and an attitude of how we all contribute for the family’s good.
We found history to be more interesting when there were stories involved. The Drive Thru History video series, helps with just that. With engaging visuals and stories, children will learn more about the history of the world. And free broadcasts about heroes of American history. Finally, the Imagination Station series can offer exciting reads with glimpses of history in a fun way. Ask your kids what they found the most meaningful. How can what we learned in the past change our tomorrow?
Yes, it is that time where bodies start to change, and you need to have “The Talk.” Even more though, sex education is much more than a one-time conversation. There are many aspects feeding into how preteens and teens look at sex. With that in mind, it is a good idea to start early rather than later. Our in-depth, dynamic toolkit, Launch Into the Teen Years, which will walk you and your child through the important formation of their sexuality.
Mid-Grade and High School homeschool curriculum options
Learning about God
As your child ages you may want to keep the fire burning bright for the Lord with family devotions. Families can enjoy going through That the World May Know series with teacher and historian, Ray Vander Laan. He unpacks each Bible lesson in the historical, geographical and cultural context. Likewise, this is also a time to help tweens and teens understand their faith and ways to live out their faith. A challenging video series on Christian Worldview is The Truth Project. It can challenge everyone in the family to think about what they “really believe.”
The events happening today are shaping our children’s futures. To know more about current events without having to wade through a bunch of garbage, check out the newly created Daily Citizen for trusted commentary on current events.
Teen girls will enjoy reading, Brio magazine, during their down time or even as part of their curriculum. Encourage your girls to pick out a concept they can share with the family or a younger sibling. I know I enjoyed reading and discussing Brio with my daughter too. Furthermore, there are several fiction books to choose from for both teen boys and girls.
Even if you have a strict policy on TV and other media, it might be a good idea to start introducing concepts in a way that offers guidance for when they are out of the house. Plugged In can be a safe place to find movies that meet your standards. In addition, the free download, “Movie Nights” has discussion questions the family can go through. Furthermore, the blog posts offer another place for family discussion. Perhaps assign an older teen to read through the week and bring a topic to the table for discussion? Why do they agree or disagree?
Dad and Mom
We didn’t forget about you two. As the educators, it is important that you get help when you need it. And even though you have committed to homeschooling, it can feel daunting at times. For those reasons, we offer a free podcast series about school success and what that means for your child. This will give you fresh ideas to help you and your children. Our daily broadcast is full of encouragement and good ideas on parenting and marriage. Therefore, listen while you drive or even while doing another load of laundry.
Finally, there are encouraging articles about homeschooling as well as parenting ideas and even assessments to see your strengths and weaknesses. Also, we also have licensed, professional counselors that can talk to you one on one about any concerns you have. It can help to have an outside perspective, and it’s a free service to you.
We hope these ideas will be helpful. Be creative with the curriculum and let us know what homeschool options worked for you. Our mission at Focus on the Family is to help families thrive in Christ. Take us along for your family’s journey. We will fight for you and encourage you along the way. And if you need a friend to come alongside and pray with you, reach out to us. We are here for you!