Choosing the right curriculum can be difficult because there are so many ways to meet the needs of our kids: online subscriptions, co-ops, boxed curriculum, workbooks, interest-led discovery, etc. If you know you want a secular curriculum, however, you can pare down the possibilities by filtering all of your options through that lens.
You probably already know that finding secular curriculum is challenging. Here's why.
First, homeschooling is relatively rare. Homeschoolers make up 3.4% of all students in the U.S. These numbers are even smaller in most other countries since some nations place significant restrictions on homeschooling or ban it altogether.
Second, secular homeschooling is rare among homeschoolers. At most, secular homeschoolers make up an estimated 23% of all homeschoolers. So in a small pool of resources, secular homeschooling takes an even smaller slice.
As homeschooling gains in popularity, the resource pool grows. Yet it remains a challenge to find curriculum that fits the needs of a family that wants to teach from a secular perspective.
What does Secular Mean?
When searching for secular curriculum, it's important to keep in mind that people have many different definitions of secular depending on their background.
If you think of curriculum on a broad spectrum, one end would be overtly religious curriculum, filled with dogma and spiritual reference and the other end would be curriculum with evolution and similar constructs.
In the middle there is curricula which is not religious but also does not include information on topics such as evolution. These are often called faith-neutral or neutral-science.
Secular curriculum typically includes everything that does not have religion, including faith-neutral curricula and curricula with evolution. It encompasses a large definition of curriculum, so it is important to be aware of what you are looking for so you can ask the right questions about each program you are considering.
Three options for finding secular curriculum
Ask someone. I’m big on Googling what I want to know, but some topics just cannot be Googled adequately. Secular curriculum is one. If you know another homeschooler, ask. If not, there are online forums and Facebook groups that will have suggestions. A bonus to talking to other people is that you can ask specific questions about the curriculum to make sure it’s a good fit for you. This is where you want to ask probing questions to determine where on the spectrum of secular curriculum that the program lies.
Reviews sites. There are a handful of websites and blogs for secular homeschoolers with reviews for curriculum. You may be able to get an up-close look at the curriculum and see some examples. That can help you determine if the curriculum would work for your family.
Review compilations. These are found on places like Amazon, Rainbow Resource, secularhomeschool.com, etc. These sites are set up to accept reviews from anyone. Review compilations are unlike blog and website reviews. You will find a greater variety of reviews and will be more likely to hear about intricacies of the curriculum. Try to look at the reviews holistically for repeating patterns and don’t be scared off by a couple of negative reviews.
Remember that while you want to seek input from others, your final choice is your own. You are footing the bill and teaching the material. Choose what's best for your family not what the crowd is cheering about. The good news is that no matter what you select, you will be able to find online support from other users. Just search Facebook groups!
Some Tips for your Secular Curriculum Search
- Determine where you are on the secular curriculum spectrum.
Decide whether you’d like a boxed curriculum or if you’d like to select each subject individually.
If you’re doing them individually, research one subject at a time.
Choosing a homeschool style can help narrow down extra choices.
Be reasonable about your expectations. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many new curriculum choices at once.
Determine your child’s learning style and shop accordingly. For example, if they learn best with videos, search for video-based curriculum or online streaming subscriptions.
It can feel like a heavy burden to narrow down and then finally choose the perfect secular homeschool curriculum, but realize that you can always make changes next year or make adjustments on the fly as needed. You are never locked into what you think may be a "mistake." And everything is a learning opportunity—both for you and for your children.
About the Author
Erin blogs at RoyalBaloo.com where she inspires people to make learning fun! Through printables, games, activities, and unit studies, learning becomes an adventure worth having.