Shopping for the best homeschool curriculum can be a lot like shopping for a computer or even a car. You need your curriculum to fit your family’s needs and wants, especially if you’re looking for a Christian homeschool curriculum to support you in leading and discipling your children. Homeschool curriculums differ in their packaging and presentation, and it can be difficult to know what to look for with so many options. We’ll help you explore some popular curriculum choices, what they can offer your family, and how to choose the best curriculum for different grade, subjects, and learning abilities.
- Homeschool curriculum comparison chart
- Choosing the homeschool curriculum
- Curriculum options by grade
- Curriculum options by lifestyle
- BJU Press Homeschool curriculum reviews
What is the best homeschool curriculum?
The best curriculum for your homeschool depends on your family’s needs and wants. To choose the best option for your family, you will need to consider your budget, your lifestyle, your children’s learning abilities and academic concerns, and your family’s spiritual goals. Your children’s preferences and interests may also be a significant factor in choosing a homeschool curriculum. When possible, make curriculum decisions in collaboration with your family.
The BJU Press homeschool curriculum specializes in offering biblically based, customizable material that meets learning standards, provides options for homeschooling families with busy schedules, and supports all learners with a multisensory approach.
Homeschool Curriculum Options
Different curriculum providers support or prefer different learning options, typically either independent learning or parent-led learning. With independent learning, the curriculum provides a resource that enables students to take charge over their own education, giving the parent or guardian more time to help other children, work, or complete other tasks. Either they provide student materials with video lessons to give the student a teacher, or they offer materials that a student could reliably use without teacher instruction. Parent-led learning means that you, the parent, or another adult, is present doing the teaching.
What to Look for in Independent Learning Curriculum
A curriculum provider with an independent learning option typically offers either online or DVD lessons. Online streaming lessons are convenient, but DVD lessons may be necessary if you don’t have a reliable internet connection or have limited computer availability.
If the curriculum’s independent learning option is textbook-only or assignment-only with no video instruction, review the curriculum with your child to ensure that instructions are clear enough for you and your child to use and that the reading level matches your child’s abilities. It is inadvisable to expect a child who struggles with reading comprehension to pursue independent learning with a program that relies heavily on textbooks and written assignments.
A curriculum should also equip parents for facilitating and supporting their independent learners. The curriculum should include access to teaching material, answer keys, and grading guides so parents are able to answer questions and provide additional insight if the student doesn’t understand initially.
What to Look for in Parent-Led Curriculum
Parent-led homeschool curriculum will give you everything you need to teach the course yourself—teacher editions with starting points for lesson planning, any additional insight you may need to teach the topic effectively, and options for assignments. For parent-led homeschooling, the teacher edition or instructor’s guide will be your best friend, so you should become familiar with it and pick a curriculum that you’re comfortable with using. In parent-led curriculum, you may find that less is not more. To teach children effectively, you need more than a one-size-fits all approach that tells you exactly what to do and when.
Whether you’re teaching your children yourself or using video lessons to allow for independent learning, you should be able to take out material or add material to customize your child’s education based on their needs. The best homeschool curriculum options will provide additional material for assignments, opportunities for enrichment, and options for challenging advanced learners—all so you can create a customized, multisensory learning experience that meets your child’s needs.
All-in-one homeschool curriculum package
Many curriculum providers also offer all-in-one options. An all-in-one homeschool curriculum provides all the materials needed to teach a child for a whole grade, or it provides all the materials needed to teach a child a single subject for a whole year. Some families may prefer to mix-and-match subjects from different publishers, while others might prefer to get it all together at one time.
Homeschool Curriculum Comparison Chart with All-in-One Options
|Curriculum Publisher||Independent Learning Options||Parent-led Support||Biblically Based|
|My Father’s World||✓||✓|
|Easy-Peasy All-in-One Homeschooling||✓||✓|
How to Choose a Homeschool Curriculum
Keep several factors in mind as you’re shopping for curriculum.
1. Set your budget.
A homeschool curriculum isn’t as expensive as private school enrollment, but it’s also not free. If you’re operating on a single, limited income, you’re going to want your first choice of curriculum to be the right choice. Take your time when choosing and don’t be afraid to ask the company if they have opportunities for discounts.
2. Consider your lifestyle.
Your lifestyle may have more to say about your choice between parent-led and independent learning than your preferences do. If you’re an on-the-go family, you may not want to be tied to a bunch of books and resources, so an independent-learning streaming option with digital books may enable you to stay on-the-go and homeschool.
3. Integrate your worldview.
If you’re eager to disciple your children through their education, a secular curriculum publisher may work to cross purposes against your goals. Look for a curriculum that teaches each subject with the Bible as the foundation and starting place rather than treating the Bible like icing on the cake that is only loosely related to the subject.
4. Consider your child’s learning ability.
Learning should be challenging to students without undue stress. Your homeschool curriculum should encourage your children to grow while still being age and developmentally appropriate. It should also take multisensory learning into consideration.
5. Learn your state’s regulations.
The state you live in may have strict regulations for homeschooling families. Homeschooling in a state with heavy regulations can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Homeschool regulations affect your curriculum because your curriculum set up may make it easier or more difficult to comply with state regulations. States expect you to homeschool for a set amount of time per day or per year, and they expect to cover the required subjects. In some cases they may expect you to submit your curriculum or lesson plan for the year for evaluation.
6. Think about the size of your family.
If you have one or two children, you’ll have a lot more time and freedom for parent-led homeschooling or using a more hands-on approach. If you have multiple children, you may need a curriculum that supports group learning or other independent learning options.
Questions to Ask when Selecting a Homeschool Curriculum
- What kind of discounts are available? Do they offer multi-course or multi-grade discounts?
- Does the curriculum allow for flexibility? Can I use it however I want?
- Does the curriculum include more than I may need so I can choose what I want to do?
- Does the curriculum teach from a biblical worldview?
- Does the curriculum encourage critical thinking skill development?
- Will this curriculum enable me to meet my state’s standards while also leaving me in charge of my children’s education?
- Am I looking for a new teaching approach or a familiar experience?
Best Homeschool Curriculum Options
Preschool is not a requirement for homeschooling parents in any state, and preschoolers should be focusing on the type of skills learned through play, so it’s typically best to avoid rushing into school. If your preschooler is eager to start learning like the big kids, look for a curriculum that develops gross and fine motor skills, introduces letter sounds and numbers, and develops communication skills by teaching color words, position words, and other helpful vocabulary.
Kindergarten is also generally not required, but it can be important for equipping students for first grade. Don’t look for a curriculum that promises to teach your child to read. Children will read when they are ready. Instead, look for a curriculum that encourages learning through play, stories, and songs. For reading readiness and early writing practice, a good kindergarten curriculum will teach letter sounds, phonemic awareness, basic phonics skills, as well as fine motor skills related to pencil grip and tracing skills. To introduce math skills, kindergarten curriculum should focus on number sense and creating associations between number words and amounts through manipulatives.
Learn more about when to start homeschooling for kindergarten.
Best Curriculum for Elementary
Look for a curriculum that still encourages learning through play with many visual elements and uses manipulatives and hands-on activities to teach. Elementary curriculum should also focus heavily on reading comprehension and early critical thinking skills. Age-appropriateness will be a key factor for elementary students. Kids need to see the joy of learning, and overly complicated or dry textbooks will easily squelch their desire to learn.
Shop elementary homeschool curriculum by grade.
Best Curriculum for Middle School
Look for a curriculum that encourages study skills and critical thinking. These skills will be imperative for success in high school classes and will be key throughout your child’s life. Learning should be fun throughout a child’s education, but it should also be fun in an age-appropriate way. Middle schoolers are still kids, but they don’t want to be treated like kids. Curriculum should still be colorful and engaging, with hands-on, manipulative-based learning without silly, theme-based characters.
Shop middle school homeschool curriculum by grade.
Best Curriculum for High School
High school homeschool curriculum is often a question of academics, and your choice for high school curriculum will also depend on your child’s goals. If your child is college-bound or if you’re pursuing an accredited homeschool diploma, you’re also going to want to look for an academically rigorous homeschool curriculum that recognizes the standards and expectations students that attend a traditional school are held to. While you do not need to also meet those standards and expectations, a curriculum that recognizes those standards and prepares students to meet them will better prepare students for further education later.
Shop high school curriculum by grade.
Best Curriculum for Math
For a solid homeschool math curriculum, look for a curriculum that provides a manipulative-based, multisensory learning experience. Many parents also find that a spiral-approach is also preferred to give students consistent opportunities to review math skills and develop strong foundations. Math curriculum should also consider opportunities for STEM learning.
Best Curriculum for Science
The best homeschool science curriculum will provide abundant opportunities for hands-on and STEM learning. A Christian based science curriculum should cover the scientific method and basic scientific processes, and it should adequately cover both sides of controversial arguments that involve science. Critical thinking development will also be crucial for developing student scientists.
Best Curriculum for Language Arts
For a good language arts curriculum, look for English (writing and grammar), reading and literature, spelling, handwriting, and vocabulary curriculum that show the relevance of language arts for teaching communication skills and teaches phonics (in kindergarten and early elementary) and focuses on reading comprehension (throughout elementary, middle school, and high school). English programs should teach grammar in context and should show students how grammar applies to communication. Reading and literature curriculum should teach students strategies that help them read with comprehension.
Best Curriculum for History
Look for a history curriculum that shows the big picture and encourages children to see the connections between events. Children should also be able to understand historical perspectives by considering how people used to live and how events and beliefs influenced decisions. History curriculum should also encourage critical thinking.
Choosing a homeschool curriculum based on lifestyle
Look for a homeschool curriculum that allows for independent learning and can be used for group learning.
Again, homeschool curriculum with independent learning options will typically work best if both parents are working, so long as at least one parent can spend some time assisting young learners.
Look for a homeschool curriculum and curriculum provider that encourages customizability with video programs that can be used whenever and rewatched as needed (if you want to use video support). You will also want a program that can be customized according to your child’s needs, so you may want to add in or take out assignments based on areas your child struggles in or is successful in.
Look for a homeschool curriculum that can be made more or less challenging as needed and that can be adjusted to your child’s pace. Gifted children may need to proceed through parts of a curriculum more quickly while they may want to slow down and take their time in other parts. Their curriculum, whether independent or parent-led, should be able to adjust to their pace.
Searching for a Christian-based homeschool curriculum?
BJU Press Homeschool provides biblically based homeschool video courses and textbooks. We create each textbook starting with a biblical worldview and using what the Bible says to direct how we teach each academic discipline. Our videos are all taught by Christian teachers with a heart for helping children serve the Lord through their teaching.
Our Top-Rated Homeschool Curriculum
What do our homeschooler families have to say about our materials?
BJU Press Grade 4 review
If you are hesitant, just buy it. The teacher is great! She is great at explaining each math section. The video lessons are not boring and it is very interactive despite being a recording. My kid feels like she is there with the teacher. Highly recommend this product!
BJU Press Grade 5 review
This is my 7th year homeschooling. BJU Press came highly recommended, and it did NOT disappoint. BJU Press is engaging, thorough, and filled with opportunities to use critical thinking skills. BJU Press makes it easy to follow along without getting overwhelmed or confused. We will definitely be using BJU for a long time. Thank you!
BJU Press Cultural Geography review
This is my 2nd year homeschooling my 3 boys. 1 in high school and 2 in elementary. I absolutely fell in love with the curriculum BJU Press offers! Each page is so colorful and the organization it provides is phenomenal. It definitely makes it easier on a newbie homeschooling parent like me. My kids are actually excited about doing their schoolwork! For the first time my high schooler is having fun reading and learning the material. Every page keeps him interested. I definitely would recommend BJU curriculum to anyone. In fact, I already do!
BJU Press English 6 review
We’ve tested other curriculum and my kids all asked to return to BJU Press English student worktexts this year. We love the worksheet format and the ease of use. It’s also the most comprehensive we’ve found.
BJU Press K5
I loved the Focus on Fives BJU Press curriculum! It was thorough, fun, and engaging. The phonics program uses creative, fun and helpful characters to help kids learn to read . . . . The whole program is well organized, engaging, and a lot of fun! . . . All the curriculum is thorough, biblical, high quality, engaging, and very enjoyable!! I highly recommend!
BJU Press Math 3
We first found out about BJU Press at a homeschool fair. Previously, we thought we were happy with our current curriculum company. After seeing BJU Press on display, we quickly purchased their materials and have loved them ever since! I love that you can purchase the entire set with tests included. That makes it super convenient! We also love the bright colors and fun pages that each lesson contains. Learning should be fun, and the BJU Press math set is a super fun and thorough 3rd grade set!