What is the best secular homeschool curriculum?
A common question asked by secular homeschoolers is, “What is the best secular homeschool curriculum?” It is easy to understand why a secular homeschooling parent would ask this. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one well-planned curriculum provider who you could go to for the purchase of all your curriculum needs?
Unfortunately, the short answer is that there is no one best secular homeschool curriculum. That doesn’t mean you will not hear from other secular homeschoolers that they have found the latest and greatest secular homeschool curriculum to use with their kids, and you should give it a try too. You will also hear from homeschool curriculum providers that they have developed a secular homeschool curriculum that will be a perfect fit. The issue with the “curriculum de jour” and the companies that pay to advertise around certain terms, is that no one set of materials is ever going to be the “best” for all learners.
The entire idea that there is a one-size-fits-all curriculum out there that will meet the needs of every learner is ingrained in us from a traditional school mentality. You are a homeschooler for a reason. You can find a better way! Instead of buying into this falsehood, secular homeschoolers should rephrase this question.
The better question to ask is, “What is the best secular homeschool curriculum for my learner?” The answer to that is simpler than you might think, but it does require some learner-focused homework for you to do before even looking at the secular homeschool curriculum.
To find the best secular homeschool curriculum for your learner start by asking, “How does my child learn?”
This is the number one question every secular homeschool provider should ask before looking at homeschool curriculum. A good secular homeschool curriculum takes a multimodal approach that incorporates all four primary learning modalities: auditory, kinesthetic, aural, and reading-writing. There is generally more work using one or two of these modalities than the others. Your child’s success with the curriculum will depend on how well this focus aligns with the primary modalities they use when learning. Your goal should be that children are balanced, multimodal learners, however for challenging subjects you want to choose a curriculum that primarily aligns with how your child best learns. Pair the secular homeschool curriculum in the subjects they find easy with any modalities they struggle with.
Find a methodology that works well for your learner.
Often, homeschooling parents will become attached to a teaching methodology, such as the Classical method or Charlotte Mason. The issue is when those do not work for a learner. For example, some learners benefit from learning that is more flexible and free-flowing than the Classical method. For others, this method leads to real intellectual growth. This directly relates to the first tip. Before purchasing a secular homeschool curriculum that aligns with a methodology, make sure it is a good learning methodology for your child.
The best secular homeschool curriculum for your learner should engage their intellect.
It is important to have an idea about what your children will be learning. One of the best parts of a secular homeschool is the freedom and flexibility to choose the subjects you want to focus on. Make some sort of outline before you start shopping. Ask yourself, “Does my child have a passion I want to make a focus for their learning?” “Are there learning challenges that should be addressed?” “Do these materials promote a culture of thinking?” “Will these materials engage my child.” and “Is there something I think everyone should learn?” If your goal is to choose a secular homeschool curriculum that best fits the needs of your learner and you as their primary teacher, do not start looking until you have an idea of the subjects you should be looking for.
What format will work best for your family?
Next, you will want to give some thought to the scope of the curriculum. Are you looking for a secular homeschool curriculum that you piece together subject-by-subject, or do you want an all-in-one curriculum? For the most part, piecing it together is best. Honestly, no one does everything well. However, an all-in-one curriculum can be less time-consuming for you to put together. When considering this, also think about how you want materials delivered: online, live or taped, print, or as an ebook. Take your learner into account when making these decisions.
Make sure the materials are secular and evidence-based.
If your goal is to find the best secular homeschool curriculum you will want to make sure the materials are secular. After you find materials that are a good fit, you should go to the number one place to get accurate information about this, the SEA Homeschoolers Facebook Group. Many homeschool curriculum publishers claim to have secular materials that are not secular. Other secular groups and websites often use information from other homeschoolers, some of whom are not secular, or the publisher’s own website.
Now that you have the five tips to help, choosing the secular homeschool curriculum should be much easier!