10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying Curriculum

Budgeting for curriculum is on every homeschool mom’s list. But, don’t you just hate it when you buy something you end up not using?


What to consider BEFORE buying new curriculum:

  1. Hand-me-downs don’t always fit. Chances are each of your kids will have a different learning style. What works with one may not work with the others. Don’t justify an extravagant expense by thinking you will use it again.
  2. However, finding curriculum that multiple ages can use together can streamline your day. And, it also provides opportunities for kids to work together and build relationships. (Science/nature study, history, and electives are well-suited for this.)
  3. Mom’s learning style is just as important as the kids’. Make sure the style feels right, or you will dread pulling out the books. Your lack of enthusiasm will reflect into your kids. If you hate math, use a curriculum that teaches it for you. If you are not a hands-on person, do not plan to build the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks and marshmallows or sew Revolutionary War costumes for history.
  4. Less is more, except when more is more. Do you really need all the supplements? Will you read all of the novels? Does the library have some of the books, or are the eBooks free online? But, sometimes having the extra bells and whistles is a huge time-saver, such as watching the experiments on DVD or listening to the geography or history lessons in the car.
  5. Buy at least one thing the kids can work on independently, no matter what grade they are in. If you teach with living books, having one workbook on hand can help out when you have to take school on-the-go. You never know when you might be waiting at the doctor’s office for half a day while Grandma has her cataract surgery.
  6. Be realistic about the time you have and pare down to the basics. Although it sounds impressive, will you really have time for Latin, Spanish, Music History, Art Appreciation, Anthropology, Computer Programming, and Turkish in between running errands, English, and Math?
  7. Younger kids need time to play and discover the world and do not need as much curriculum as you might think. Keep it simple and fun. Algebra will come soon enough!
  8. Be the boss of your curriculum and do not let it rule you. You DO NOT have to check off all the boxes. Really. Even “real” teachers never finish a curriculum in a school year (Shh! It’s a secret.)
  9. Do not read catalogs like they are magazines. Companies are trying to sell you their product, and testimonials are not the same thing as reviews.
  10. Library cards are free (see number 4). Unless you’re going to be using a book over and over again, consider borrowing it from the library to save both money and space on your shelves. If you’re thinking you’ll want to have a book later on down the line as your younger kids get older, remember that many books are revised and updated over the years. Your current books might be out of date when you revisit them again (see number 1).

There’s my top ten list. What would YOU add?

10 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Bought That Curriculum mylearningtable.com

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Comments (7)

  1. L. E. Mastilock

    Such great advice. I get overwhelmed looking at curriculum. So far I’ve hardly used anything that could be officially deemed “curriculum”. Love the library and we have a local homeschool resource library, borrowing is the best! You’ll never use most of what is in those large all in one curriculum packages and my kids learn so differently, not much could be passed down.

    1. Anne Campbell (Post author)

      I’ve wasted so much money, thinking I could justify it by using it with all my kids as they grew. Didn’t happen with most, though. Thankfully, I’ve discovered a wonderful homeschool consignment store in our area, so I’ve been able to trade in a few things.

  2. Nicky

    I love looking at and buying curriculum, but I rarely use everything I find. I will find things are garage sales,thrift stores, and book sales that I think, so this looks good. After 7 years of collecting, I finally got rid of a bunch of it. I started looking at what I had and how the kids liked it. We’ve tried different things, but now only how what we loved. These are all great tips. The library is a great resource. I love ours.

    1. Anne Campbell (Post author)

      I’ve been such a curriculum hoarder over the years. After so many years of homeschooling, the clutter starts to be a huge time waster and a distraction. I’m finally letting go of a lot of stuff, and I’m finding that paring down makes life so much easier. Thanks for sharing your experience, Nicky!

  3. Crystal Green

    This is such valuable advice. I wish I had read this while I was picking out curriculum for the kids for this year. However, it will come in handy as I make my selections for next year.

  4. Christina

    Wonderful advice!
    We are just in our 2nd year of homeschooling and so far I have only bought our reading curriculum. In the early grades there are just so many resources you can get online and I find hands-on play is much more effective than worksheets at this age.

  5. Anne Mackenzie-Hunt

    I live in France and unfortunately without a curriculum I would have to spend hours taking notes of everything we have done and how it equates to what they are doing at school to show the inspectors who come round once a year. My daughter is 13 and luckily enjoys the structure of a curriculum and I am re-assured that we are “achieving” and moving forward. We still have lots more free time though to explore the world around us and pursue personal dreams.


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