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Curriculum Planning Made Easy with these Helpful Tips — with free download!

Are you in the thick of curriculum planning? Read about my own methods for choosing curriculum for our homeschool.

As we wind down the school year, it seems to me we oughta be able to truly wind down — as in take it easy and stop thinking about school for awhile. BUT NO. We have to start doing our curriculum planning for NEXT year!! Aaaaaagh!!

My solution has been to procrastinate about it; I usually don’t get started until sometime in July. And even though we are now doing Classical Conversations, so I don’t have to pick out curriculum any more, I will still wait until then (or later, lol) to start to think about purchasing what we need.

But for those of you that like to get ahead of the game (I’m secretly impressed but won’t admit it), I thought it would be a good time to revisit a post from a few years ago in which I shared my methods for choosing curriculum for our homeschool, back when it was all up to me. The years when there were five students to plan for are over now, but I remember them pretty stinkin’ clearly, lol. (Next year I will only have ONE. JUST ONE. I can’t even fathom at this point.)

Are you in the thick of curriculum planning for your homeschool? Get ideas for what to look for that's best for the kids, plus a printable to keep track of the reviews you find in your research! #homeschool #curriculumplanning

Let’s jump in at the middle, when it starts getting good (and stay tuned for a new special offer at the end):

–What follows is an excerpt from a previous post–

I have several things that I look for in a curriculum. These qualifications are what work best for our family — and my sanity level, lol.

Not too much teacher involvement or preparation. Even in the younger years, there were only certain subjects I was willing to be very involved in — such as math and reading. The others, I felt, could be done fairly independently. Certainly now, with kids in middle and high school, I look for curriculum that can be done almost completely by the student.  In the early years I looked for independent learning curriculum because there was only so much of me to go around; now, though, it is because at this level I think they are ready to work on their own.

As easy on the budget as possible. Because of our somewhat large family, buying new curriculum each year for every student (as in consumable workbooks, for example) would be expensive. I look for curriculum that is packaged as a hardbound textbook or some other non-consumable format, so that it can be used again and again as the years go by.

Usually of a fairly challenging difficulty level. If a curriculum is known to be pretty easy, I generally avoid it. I’d rather take a challenging curriculum and have to omit parts and scale back on it than have a curriculum that is too easy that I now have to find things to supplement with. That’s just too much work for me!

Gets good reviews from those that have used it. I always try to read lots of reviews for any product I am considering. Usually the user reviews will have more detailed information than the sales material from the publisher. I like to know the nuts and bolts of how a curriculum works before I decide to purchase. I will usually look in these places to find reviews:

1) The Well-Trained Mind forum — I use the High School and Self-Education Board frequently to search and find out what others think about a specific curriculum.  Sometimes I’ll ask a question myself.  There is also a K-8 Curriculum Board, although I’ve not been on there.

2) Rainbow Resource Center — Their catalog every year is always larger than phone book size, and it is chock full of lengthy descriptions and reviews of the products they sell.  All that same information is available at their website.

3) Christian Book Distributors — They have user reviews at the bottom of the page, after the usual write-up about a product. They might also have sample pages and/or lessons that you can download.

4) The website of the publisher or author of the curriculum — Here, too, you might find sample pages and/or lessons.  You might also be able to email or call them if you have any questions that are not answered elsewhere.

5) Cathy Duffy Reviews — Back in the day, Cathy Duffy started by writing an actual book of curriculum reviews for homeschoolers.  Now, her thorough reviews and explanations for about a gazillion different products can be read online. She also does have an updated version of her book; it not only includes reviews but also information about how to determine your homeschool philosophy and your children’s learning styles, and other helpful information to guide you in choosing curriculum.

I know my own curriculum planning preferences are not for everyone. One of the beauties of homeschooling these days is that there are so many options out there, and each family can decide what works best for them! Don’t ya just love that?? 🙂

–end of excerpt–

I hope this will reassure some of you that we don’t have to go looking for the most advanced or complicated curriculum all the time, or even at all. It’s OK to choose what will work easily for your family.

In our homeschool we ended up with a lot of textbooks and workbooks that could be done mostly at home — even for high school. We had very few online classes, and we did no dual enrollment, AP, or honors courses AT ALL. And yet those of my kids who have graduated have all gotten into college just fine and received merit scholarships to boot. So don’t stress over doing all. the. stuff, ok?

By the way, I think I should update that list of places to find reviews by including my two Facebook groups now:

  1. It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School
  2. It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool K-8

Both are great places for looking for suggestions and researching opinions about all sorts of curriculum options out there!

Also, Amazon has sure come a long way when it comes to selling homeschool curriculum. You can find reviews on there now, too, though there weren’t that many when I wrote the original post.

But wait, there’s more! And it’s not a Ginsu knife! 🙂

Hey, while you’re doing the curriculum research thing, would you like a way to record all your findings about a particular curriculum — what people say about it, where it can be purchased, pricing, etc.? I’ve made a new printable form to help you do just that!

It’s purple and pretty and has space to write down all your notes as you decide what to use for next year. You can print multiple copies and use it for every subject. And if you hang onto them, then if something doesn’t work with a curriculum you’ve chosen, you can go back to your completed forms to pick out a Plan B! To get your own copy to download, click here: Curriculum Choice Research Form.

Happy researching! I’m gonna ride the procrastination bus awhile longer… but don’t worry, if you’re like me, the form will still be here later on when you need it! 🙂


About the author

Ann Karako

Ann has been homeschooling for 20+ years and has graduated four children (one more to go). She believes that EVERY mom can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY -- and even CONTENTEDLY -- provide the COMPLETE high school education that her teen needs. Ann's website, AnnieandEverything.com, offers information, resources, and virtual hugs to help homeschool moms do just that. 

Ann has written Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Manual for Research & Planning and Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School: Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation. She also founded the popular Facebook group called It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, which now has over 27K members; and recently she started the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Podcast.

She and her family, including two dogs and three cats, live in rural Missouri.


  • I love Rainbow Resource! We’ve gotten a lot of our curriculum from them over the years. Thanks for linking up with the Laugh and Learn linky! 🙂

    • Ikr, Selena? I can’t say enough good about Rainbow Resource. And my pleasure about the linkup — thanks for featuring this article the following week! 🙂 So glad you stopped by to comment. 🙂

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I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five. I believe YOU can do this homeschool high school thing!
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