How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without using packaged curriculum

Choosing a homeschool curriculum can be such an overwhelming task. There is so much out there, it is a major investment and you kind of have a sense that if you choose the wrong one, you will ruin your child forever. It’s like a perfect formula for stress. But it doesn’t have to be.

how to create a homeschool curriculum

Now, I do have a small confession to make. I do purchase some curriculum. I don’t see myself casually introducing the quadratic formula in normal conversation, nor inspiring my children to check books out from the library about it. I purchase textbooks once in awhile, either because I just can’t help myself or because I just need a subject to get done and I don’t have time for the research required.

Lean in close, here, because I’m going to tell you a little secret. Sometimes, it is better to have time to just be a mom and a wife and a person who does things besides plan homeschool lessons. Even if you could have come up with something better and cheaper yourself. The curriculum is not nearly as important as the teacher.

Now that I have that off my chest, I’m going to share how I pull together most of our more formal curriculum.

I start with the time period I want to study for history and do a little research to narrow down a topic. When we studied the Middle Ages, for example, we concentrated on illuminated manuscripts. This gave us an in depth look at a single topic in historical context. I use our timeline to help show a broader view of what was happening in the world in the same period, but we mainly focus on that one topic. I try to find a good text at the library that I then read to the children. We discuss the book as I read it, the children keep a notebook, we do some narration and I occasionally make assignments based on what we are reading.

For literature, we draw from the same time period and largely select books available to us at the library. For this time period, we focused on The Once and Future King, but we also checked out The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane and Marguerite Makes a Book because they dealt with our theme directly and the illustrations served as a sort of example. Similar to history, we discuss the literature and they keep a notebook and may have some other related assignments. Sometimes we use historical fiction and sometimes we look at a work from that time period. It just depends on what I find and what looks interesting to read together.

Art was easy for this particular unit. Since we were focusing on illuminated manuscripts, we tried our hand at calligraphy, coloring in decorative letters and did some simple illumination ourselves.

For the other skills I want to teach (reading, writing, grammar, spelling, etc.), I tend to just pull examples from what we are reading and we talk about that or I pull mistakes I notice in their writing and focus on that for mini-lessons to help them improve. When we go to the library, they are required to get two books in addition to what they want: one book has to have something to do with some subject we are studying and one has to be nonfiction. As they get older and choose longer books, I drop that requirement to one book, but this encourages them to search out other topics that interest them that are related to what we are studying. It broadens their horizons, but still gives them a lot of control over what they learn about.

It takes some time to plan and to find materials that are related to each other and that would also be of interest to the children, but once I select the materials, the rest goes pretty quickly. We enjoy exploring together and the more I have concentrated on a specific topic in history rather than a date range, the more different historic periods have come alive.

virtual homeschool fair

This post is part of the Virtual Homeschool Fair, an opportunity for homeschool blogggers to come together and share about how and why they homeschool. Check out the other participants and recapture some of your own vision for homeschooling!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources – An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace

Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Choices, choices – how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

Our Curriculum Needs – grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time

The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Curriculum We Have Loved Using – Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses

Note: This post contians affiliate links: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.”


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