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Types of Homeschool Curriculum & Their Features

As any homeschool parent will tell you, one of the main perks of teaching your child at home is flexibility. You not only have the flexibility to pick which subjects you want to teach but also how you’re going to teach them. If you have more than one child, you’ll know that each has a different way of learning best.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common homeschooling techniques and each’s benefits.

Complete Curriculum

The “complete curriculum” approach lines up most closely with the “school-at-home” method – you have an already created, full curriculum that covers a subject in a way similar to how it would be covered in a “normal” school setting. Your child will use textbooks, have assigned reading, and have to complete assignments such as problems in a workbook or writing an essay.

A complete curriculum can be a good option if you don’t think you have “teaching chops” and just want to trust your child’s learning to educators who have devised an accredited curriculum. Maybe you feel your child needs rigid structure. On the other hand, it can also be quite expensive to go this way and, honestly, parents often underestimate their ability to teach.

Subject Based Curriculum

If you’re a new homeschool parent, you may not know that you don’t have to stick with one curriculum, for example, Abeka. On the contrary, you can mix and match: maybe you really like Abeka’s American Literature course but are not a Christian who subscribes to the theory of Young-Earth Creationism, and so want to take an Earth Science course from Calvert Homeschool.

Maybe you feel that A.C.E.’s mathematics program is the best fit for your kid, but feel their history department is lacking. Since you can use as many different curricula as you like and combine them, this doesn’t matter – you can tailor your complete program to your and your child’s needs. You may want to teach specialized subjects such as Latin, too.

Unit Studies

Unit studies are a way of looking at particular topics as they touch on different subjects. Say you want to teach about ancient Greece – rather than just having a history unit on ancient Greece (a subject-based curriculum) you could teach about philosophy (Aristotle, Socrates, etc.), history (Peloponnesian Wars, Herodotus), mathematics (Euclid, Pythagoras), law (Athen vs. Sparta, Pericles), and literature (Homer) all in one topic!

This gives your child a deep knowledge of certain subject areas that may be important to you and them – the Bible, early American history, astronomy, etc. – rather than the superficial knowledge they would gain in a “traditional” school. It teaches them to think critically and to understand that things are more complicated and intertwined than they may realize.

Online

Online studies are just what they sound like: where your child accesses either pre-recorded or live lessons through the Internet. With Abeka, for example, a big part of their curriculum involves pre-recorded lessons. Pre-recorded lessons have the advantage of being “tried-and-true” – if something works, there’s no need to change it up.

If you use a program that offers live, interactive lessons, this could be a chance for your child to occasionally work with professional teachers and even communicate with other students. Perhaps you want to homeschool your child but have other, time-consuming obligations – in that case, utilizing online studies could free up some time for you.

Additionally, consider that you can supplement your curriculum with instructional YouTube videos or platforms like Khan Academy.

Different things work better for different homeschoolers – you might try a year of a structured curriculum but then move on to something more flexible like an integrative curriculum (unit studies).

Check out our other post on different homeschooling methodologies like Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Classical, etc. Sometimes these align with one technique on this list – for example, the Eclectic homeschooling technique would work well with a subject-based curriculum, while Charlotte Mason emphasizes unit studies.