Don't Buy Curriculum for Your Homeschool. Here's What to do Instead.

October 15, 2020
Thinking about homeschooling? 

New to homeschooling?

Concerned about how to choose a curriculum? 

Maybe you're planning to begin homeschool next fall, and you are researching what curriculum you need to purchase.  

Or, you need curriculum fast because you have just pulled your children from public school.
Curriculum is the first thing parents think about when they decide to homeschool. You have to have texts and lessons in order to teach, right?

Let me ask you two questions. 

#1:  Why are you homeschooling? (Or want to homeschool?)

·       Is it because of the environment of the local public school?
·       Is the classwork not challenging enough?
·       Does the school not give enough tutoring in certain areas?
·       Does it seem as though teachers try to make your child fit within their teaching style?
·       Do you need a safer alternative (due to COVID, etc.)
#2:  What is your goal for homeschooling?

·       Creating a safer, more relaxing learning environment?
·       Allowing learning at a manageable or even accelerated pace?
·       Providing more hands-on tutoring in specific areas?
·       Teaching in a way that fits your child's learning style?

When I counsel interested parents about homeschool, the first question I usually get is selecting the best curriculum.  My reply is always: "DON'T BUY CURRICULUM!"

Um, what? 
Many parents feel the need to have “all the things” before they start to homeschool. They buy an excellent curriculum, only to list it later on eBay or swap sites, stating that "it just didn't work for us." Parents choose a curriculum that they like instead of discovering their kids' wants and needs. 

Don't focus so much on the curriculum that you look past the real reasons you’re homeschooling!


So, don't buy curriculum.


Not if you don't want to.

Homeschooling is not meant to be a stress-fest. It is the opportunity to enjoy education together in a relaxed, safe, and manageable environment. It allows you to have the freedom to do what’s best as the parent. You can discover how your child learns and mentor them into the person they are meant to be. 

When making that leap into homeschooling, we have such a desire to give our kids our best. To help them learn better from what they experienced before. I know I did.  In fact, I put off homeschooling for four years because I was sure I couldn't do it correctly – and I almost made the decision too late. 

I have two sons, 6 years apart.  We started homeschooling when the Youngest was 10, starting fifth grade, and the Oldest was 16 and a high school junior.  I had NO idea what I was getting into!

My first concern was curriculum too. Could I teach the subjects they needed to learn?  It was after visiting a homeschool convention and seeing all the choices that I became utterly intimidated.
So I decided not to purchase any curriculum packages. 

how to learn without homeschool curriculum

What I learned about during my first months of homeschooling is what I'm going to share with you.  Because I don't want you to stress.  I want you to meet your homeschool goals.  I wish for your entire family to enjoy the homeschool ride.  Even if it’s bumpy.
1.    Ask what your kids want to learn. 

Now you may think this is a wasted exercise, but hear me out.  You may be surprised at the answers you receive. I asked my boys to write down at least 6 things they wanted to learn. One son’s list included the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, movie making, medieval times, and playing the cello. 

And that was my ten-year-old. 

It's a unique exercise and your kids will be excited when they realize they actually get to vote on what their homeschool will look like.
2.    Start homeschooling in the summer.

If you plan to start homeschool for the first time in the fall, don't wait until August. Begin in early in the summer. Seriously.

Well, that won't go over well, you say.

Do all the things you may typically do in the summer, but make it more educational. Create activities throughout the summer your kids can look forward to. Where will you go on your annual summer vacation? Can you visit a historical or science museum while you are there? What about planning some day trips instead? What about a scavenger hunt to find the most fascinating location of state history in your hometown?

Most importantly – allow your kids to help with the plans. If you have several children, have them each plan a day trip, or have siblings team together to plan a route to see a national park.

You know how to do this. You’re already doing this. I am only encouraging you to look at things differently. Road trips and vacations can have more focus, with learning opportunities. And bonus: museums, national parks, and other locations have everything you need. No curriculum required.

After my sons finished 4th and 10th grade, we started homeschooling with our planned summer vacation.  We took a 10 day trip from Texas to my hometown in Michigan. The route was Texas to Michigan, with Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on the way. 

For the trip, we scheduled stops to learn about the Civil War: a battlefield in Arkansas, the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, and a Civil War exhibition at the historical society in my hometown!  We added extra time in our itinerary to stop whenever we wanted to check out something interesting. The youngest wanted to do Junior Ranger activities and try on civil war costumes. My teen was content walking alone, absorbing everything in his quiet way.

how to learn without homeschool curriculum
Old Schoolhouse at Fort Smith, Arkansas

And none of the things we learned was the standard fare in a history textbook. Awesome. 
3.    Have your kids read, read, read. 
Visit the library regularly and often. My Oldest was already volunteering at the local library, so we already had our one-hour time slot for the library each week. I would make a game of finding books for my Youngest.  One week he may be charged with finding five books: two nonfiction and three fiction. (This was when I discovered another interest of his: meteorology.) 

We took my teen to our local Half Price Books and allowed him to find books on a couple of his interests to study. His choices were astronomy and military history. The Oldest always wanted to learn Japanese, and now was his chance. He selected appropriate books to teach himself. (And he did - successfully!)

Don't be tempted to follow the traditional school patterns! Try these suggestions to get started. There is so much out there that can excite your kids with new curiosity and love for learning. 

Homeschooling is the best trip ever. 


  1. I don't have children and it's been a long time since I was a kid. It must be a challenge to be a parent and then a teacher. Involving the kids in choices in learning sounds like a very good idea. They are and should be involved. It would help them to be engaged. Good post.

  2. This is such a refreshing perspective on homeschooling. I've always been against transfer the day school to home school. You have certainly captured my idea of homeschool in a more interesting way than I could ever articulate. Thanks for sharing. I believe someone will benefit.

  3. I don't have any children homeschooling age but my great grandson is starting. While his mom is ready to pull her hair out, he is doing well. I'm sharing this information with my granddaughter.

    1. Great! I am going to be following up in the next couple weeks with other posts similar. Just keep encouraging our granddaughter -- she can do it!

  4. Great idea to use everyday life for homeschooling! There are also a lot of free resources to be found online.


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