Is it better to plan ahead? Of course. Can you still homeschool your child, even if you don’t make the decision until the last minute? Absolutely! You can start homeschooling today and have a great homeschool year, just by following my tips and recommendations.
How can I find homeschool curriculum to use right away?
There are some great options for online and printable homeschool curriculum, if you know where to look for them! As a homeschool mom and homeschool grad, I’ve been around curriculum long enough to know exactly where you need to look and what options you should consider if you’re about to start homeschooling right now.
If you’re about to start homeschooling right now, you’ll need to prioritize Math and Language Arts. These are the two subjects that build the most with each grade level, so you don’t want your child getting behind. Once you’ve nailed down your choices for those subjects, choose your favorite options for Science, History/Social Studies, Spelling, Art, Music, etc.
Homeschool curriculum has gotten seriously cool. I always tell new homeschool parents, if you can dream it, there is probably a curriculum out there doing it.
Of course, if you’re going to start homeschooling, like, tomorrow, your choices are somewhat limited by what you can get your hands on right away.
That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on great options, it just means you need to know where to look. After all, if you’re on a tight deadline, you don’t have weeks or months to explore every program and read every review.
You need answers fast, and you need to be able to get them as a printable curriculum or something you can use online, that way you’re not waiting for textbooks to be shipped to your home. I’ve narrowed down my top choices I’d tell you about if we were sitting over a cup of coffee together and you told me you planned to start homeschooling tomorrow. It is possible! But we need to get started.
For a math program you can start using right now, I recommend Teaching Textbooks.
Teaching Textbooks is an online program, has a printable e-book (though I recommend not printing that unless you come to a point where it is necessary), and takes a lot of the teaching burden off of the parent. You’ll still need to check in, and help your child as needed, but the program does all the grading.
Teaching Textbooks starts at Level 3, which some parents report could also work for a second grader with strong math skills. The program continues all the way through Calculus, so it’s a great last minute choice for your highschooler too. This is a non-religious program.
If you’re looking for a math curriculum for younger students, I recommend the printable curriculum from Masterbooks. This is a colorful, workbook style program that incorporates stories into each week’s lessons. Masterbooks is a Christian curriculum, so expect some religious references throughout.
For a language arts homeschool program you can start today, I recommend taking a look at Masterbooks or Brave Writer.
Masterbooks is a workbook style program you can purchase as a printable download. It is a Christian program and will have religious references throughout. Each week starts with a short story, giving kids an idea of how they might use the concepts being taught in real life.
Brave Writer is a secular program with a literature-based approach. These are printable literature guides to accompany a variety of chapter books (which you can get from the library, amazon, or download to a kindle), and those literature guides will include grammar and writing elements in the program.
Start by browsing Brave Writer’s list of literature, choose one book, and purchase the printable Brave Writer Literature Guide choice (recommendations on the site vary by age group). Once completed, move on to another book and guide.
Brave Writer is a very creative, outside the box program, great for the non-list-checking family. Additionally, if you need a good homeschool pep-talk, check out the creator Julie Bogart’s podcast. Her creative approach to homeschooling is so inspiring!
When it comes to a science program you can get your hands on this minute, I recommend the printable unit studies from The Good and the Beautiful.
There are Science units to cover a wide variety of topics and these units can be used by most grades all together. If you have more than one child, you can do The Good and the Beautiful science units together as a family. This is an important time-saver for the homeschool parent!
The Good and the Beautiful is a religious curriculum written by LDS (Mormon) creators but does not contain any LDS specific content. Instead, information is presented from a non-denominational Christian viewpoint, so expect some religious references scattered throughout the curriculum.
The Good and the Beautiful is aptly named because these units are simply gorgeous. Who knew curriculum could look so classy? You may want to hang some of the pages as art on your walls, they’re that pretty. If you’re still unsure, try their free Marine Biology unit. If you find yourself loving The Good and the Beautiful, check out the rest of their site, as they do have printable curriculum for other subjects as well.
If you’re planning your homeschool year without much time to prepare, then for History or Social Studies, I recommend you start off by simply reading good books. If you have some sort of e-reader, you can get your hands on an endless supply of books for all ages in just seconds.
For younger children, pick a topic they already have some interest or experience with and look for books at their age level which you could read aloud to them. Did your family visit a Civil War battlefield last year on vacation? Try reading a biography for kids about Abraham Lincoln. Is your child obsessed with model trains? Look for books that discuss the history of toy trains and of full-sized locomotives.
TIP: If your child needs to keep their hands busy while listening to you read, let them draw or play with a quiet toy while they listen.
After you’ve finished reading together, make sure you take some time to discuss the book with your children. You can make this an enjoyable experience by sitting around the table together and enjoying a favorite snack. Think of it like a book club event for your kiddos.
For elementary age students, focus your questions on reading comprehension, that means, did your kids follow the story and understand what was happening in the book? Don’t grill your kids on facts and details, flip through the book and review some illustrations from the story. Ask them if they can tell you what was happening on that page. Consider this an informal oral report and avoid adding worksheets or writing assignments unless your child thrives with that type of instruction. Instead, focus on their understanding of the subject and fostering a love for learning.
For older students, find history books they can read independently, then check in with them daily to make sure they are completing the work. Try to meet with them weekly for a “book club” discussion of what they’re learning. Let them teach you what they’ve discovered.
As your child is able, start transitioning them towards writing a summary of the book when they have completed a title. For upper elementary and even junior high, continue to focus on reading comprehension. Did they follow the story and understand what was happening?
As your student moves into senior high-level work, encourage them to dig a little deeper in their written reports. Focus on critical thinking. Why did something happen? Did it result in the desired outcome? Does your student think a person/group made the right decision? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, rather, the purpose is to get the student evaluating what they read and learning how to put their thoughts into writing.
ART, MUSIC, PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND ELECTIVES
Now that you’ve made your choices for the core subjects of your child’s education, it’s time to think about electives. These are the classes you might work on once a week, instead of every day.
If you’re brand new to homeschooling, I recommend you start off with a simple plan for your child’s electives. If you feel you need to do something more involved later on, you can always add to your program. I recommend not starting off with time-intensive elective programs, as this only increases the likelihood that you and/or your child will burn out.
If your time/energy is limited, it’s more important that you save it to really dive into those core subjects. You can work in the electives as you start to get comfortable with your new homeschool routine.
The two best resources I’ve found for easy to access programs for your child’s electives, are Youtube and Outschool.
Using Youtube for your homeschool electives is as easy as typing “how to draw a dinosaur step by step for kids” when it’s time to do art class with your dinosaur-loving second grader. Search something like “harmonica tips for beginners” when your 8th grader is ready to work on learning a simple instrument for a music course. How about searching something like, “biography of Vincent Van Gogh” for an art history lesson for your highschooler, or “beginner karate for kids” when it’s time for the family to gather together for a phys. ed class.
There are so many creative Youtube creators, producing fantastic videos, which can provide homeschool families with a free and instantly accessible library of resources.
Some videos may have ads, so my only word of caution would be not to leave young children alone when watching Youtube, as it’s possible an ad with questionable content could be shown.
Outschool is another great online resource for your homeschool electives. Outschool allows your student to take online courses in an endless number of subjects, taught by experienced teachers or experts in their fields. You will need to pay for these classes, and prices vary depending on the price set by the instructor, but with a little browsing around, you’re almost sure to find a choice that fits your needs and budget.
Outschool is especially a great option if you’re looking to add a foreign language course to your homeschool program. This is a subject many parents feel unable to teach without an experienced instructor’s help. There are many foreign language courses available on Outschool, across many languages and levels of experience.
Want to take your curriculum research to the next level before you decide what to buy? Sign up for our free curriculum planning tool! You can create lists for each of your students, subjects, or by academic year. Save the options you’re considering to your lists and check back with your lists to narrow down your choices when you’re ready to make a decision. We know purchasing homeschool curriculum is a big decision (and expense!) and we’ve worked hard to provide a simple curated list of the choices we think you’ll most want to consider adding to your lists.