Once a month on the blog, I love to give you a sneak peek into “our life” collectively as homeschoolers by sharing interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you! I hope you will be encouraged by reading this interview with Charity as she talks about how she chooses curriculum for multiple children.
To see more interviews from other homeschool moms, see the Our Life Homeschooling Gallery of Homeschool Mom Interviews.
Video || Choosing Curriculum For a Large Family: Interview With Charity
My name is Charity Lehman. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Delton, for 18 years.
We have 7 children- 6 boys and 1 girl right in the middle! Their ages are 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, and 4. Life looks a lot different now than it did in the early years of homeschooling. There are days now when school is done, the kids are playing, and I have time to wonder if I should start a project! I’m not much of a project person, and I’m usually interrupted before these musings go too far, but I can sense that I am in a shifting of seasons.
A verse that expresses my heart for homeschooling is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Whatever challenges I face in homeschooling, I trust in His wisdom and not my own.
How do you do every lesson in every book?
You can’t! In the early years, I bought a curriculum set and tried to follow the included instructor guide. I love organization and checklists and feeling like I’ve done everything I am supposed to do- and the instructor guide was laid out perfectly for someone like me. However, after having a few more children, I found that using the checklist didn’t work as well for me. I loved the curriculum, so I simply shelved the instructor’s guide, and read the books to the kids on my own schedule. This worked so well, I never went back to using the checklists. I have simplified school a great deal over the years which helps our days run peacefully. We prioritize school and simplify our days so we are not pulled away from home life, and then make room for lots of creative free time. Not all books are finished every year, and that is okay with me.
Will one curriculum fit each of my children’s needs?
I decide on curriculum (and even how I homeschool) based on the needs of my children. This is especially evident with my two oldest sons. My oldest son dealt with dyslexia and sensory issues. He needed more time to play and create and not sit in front of a workbook. We’ve found that he learns well from video, so this year, as a senior, he is using an online literature college course, as well as Spelling Lab, a great online video spelling course geared towards both dyslexic and non-dyslexic learners.
My second son devours books and spends hours doing every question in his science curriculum without complaint. He plows through each of his school subjects with gusto, and then writes fiction stories just for fun. His curriculum needs are different from my oldest, so I choose curriculum that fits his style.
How do I choose curriculum for subjects that I don’t especially like?
I find that when I am making an investment in a subject, especially a subject I don’t enjoy, I need to choose curriculum that appeals to me. I can give my child excitement and vision for a subject much more easily if I can get excited about the color scheme, the layout, and the presentation. I choose high level science curriculum, my least favorite subject, based on the curriculum that not only has great reviews, but presents itself in a way that is engaging to me. I’ve been homeschooling long enough to realize that if I can’t get excited about the books we are using, my kids won’t get excited, and the curriculum just won’t get used.
How do I find curriculum when I am on a tight budget?
I’ve found these tips helpful when I am working with a tight budget:
- Plan ahead. If I can start thinking about the upcoming school year in March or April, I give myself time to be creative in meeting my curriculum needs.
- Look through what I already have. It sounds simple, but sometimes I just need to discipline myself to browse through the books, workbooks, and resources I’ve accumulated over the years. Do I need to buy something, or can I work with what I have?
- There are several companies that put out great boxed curriculum sets. When I can’t afford to purchase a whole set, or simply need ideas for age-appropriate reading material, I look over their online lists of what is included in their sets and begin to look for these resources at yard sales and second-hand stores over the summer.
- Our local homeschool organization has a resource center, where items can be signed out for an entire year. Local libraries also offer many free resources of books, audio books, and events.
- Stock up on back to school supplies. At the beginning of the school year, I’ve started buying a few extra notebooks, glue sticks, colored pencils, and scissors. Prices are very cheap at this point, and I usually am thankful to have stocked up!
- Keep it simple. Simple school years can be some of the best times in homeschooling. When I keep school simple, I can take the time to go deep in a book that I may have rushed through. We go outside more. We find time to read and play games instead of reaching for another workbook.
- Read out loud often. Really, our best times in homeschooling have been when we are engrossed in a read aloud. Whether from my personal library or a local library, reading a book is inexpensive, but is a priceless time for our family.
- No FOMO. Fear of missing out can be such a heavy burden. If co-op is out of the question, or the language arts curriculum everyone is raving about is out of my price range, I can let it go. My child will continue to get a great education as I place each of their needs before God and think creatively.
How do you find time to plan curriculum for each child?
For the past decade, I have set aside a long weekend in August to go away and plan for the upcoming school year. In the early years, this looked like a weekend of filling notebooks and copying pages and planning out schedules. Over the years, though, this weekend has become more of a spiritual retreat. I plan, but I also take time just to breathe, pray, and reset my heart for the challenge of another school year. I keep it simple. I most often go to my parent’s house for this retreat, but one year I just set up in the apartment attached to our house. I’ve invited a few friends into this time, and it has become a wonderful opportunity for them to plan, and for some girl time!
Is it okay to stop using a curriculum because it isn’t working?
Yes. I have many different unused workbooks on my shelves because they just didn’t work for our family. I have also started using a curriculum I already had on hand, only to realize that I needed to buy something that really works instead! Taking time to evaluate what is working- and what isn’t working- helps my school year flow, rather than allowing a curriculum that is a poor fit to be a year-long source of frustration. I have found, however, that the best curriculum is the curriculum that I am actually consistent in doing. If I am not being faithful to teach spelling, another program will not necessarily fix that issue. I try to make sure the issue isn’t my consistency. If I can follow the curriculum regularly for a week or two, and find that it still isn’t working, I shelve it and move on.
Charity’s Favorite Resources
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!