Top Homeschooling Questions Answered (Part 3)

This article is part 3 of a 3 part series: Top Homeschooling Questions Answered.

The top hoemschooling questions are:

  1. When and how I should begin (Read Part 1)
  2. What do I need to teach (Read Part 2)
  3. What are the best programs to use (answered in this article)

There are three different types of programs to choose from when homeschooling. They are:

  • Using prepared, boxed curriculum created for the masses
  • Using online, learning platforms
  • Using skill-based and/or unit/theme based printable, teaching materials

What the best program is for you all depends on what works best for you and your child. However, there are some huge considerations to think about.

I’ll now cover the pros and cons of each:

Using Prepared, boxed curriculum created for the masses:

To ‘standardize’ education, our school systems have long adopted boxed curriculum. These programs all are based on grade-level skills and concepts, but they also change as states adopt ever changing standards and methods of teaching.

Pros of prepared, boxed curriculum:
  • Day to Day lessons are all created and given for the entire year. (This doesn’t mean there is no prep.)
  • Parents purchase having a sense of relief to have an ‘open and go’ curriculum (especially when they don’t trust themselves fully yet in being able to provide what is needed.)
Cons of prepared, boxed curriculum:
  • Lessons are not designed to meet your child where they are. Nor do they take into account their learning styles and preferences (and how those preferences can change).
  • There is no room (time) given for teachable moments or extended learning when a student shows an interest to dive deeper into a specific topic or interest.
  • Almost always requires extensive prep, even though they are advertised as open and go. Typically, the older the child, the more teacher prep will be required.
  • They can be very expensive. Prepared, boxed curriculum can be extremely expensive and all too often parents end up throwing out a good portion of it.
  • Parents will need to keep records.
  • Students often get bored and frustrated easily
  • Parents feel defeated when their children aren’t performing as they think they should based on what is given.

I first began using prepared, boxed curriculum in public schools. It was what I was given and expected to use. Even though these ‘open and go’ programs were created to be step by step, they still required me to do a lot of prep work. Plus, I always needed to find supplements to fill in the gaps to help students not quite ready for the material or for those that already knew the material.

Using online platforms:

Online platforms have been around and growing in popularity for years but really took off during the corona virus pandemic. They too are based on grade-level skills and concepts just like prepared, boxed curriculum, but are typically designed to move students along as they demonstrate that a specific skills or concept has been learned.

Pros of online platform curriculum:
  • Typically, easy to use for both parents and students.
  • Most will have some type of record keeping (but not all).
  • There is little to no lesson planning required for parents.
Cons of online platform curriculum:
  • Time required to be online with little to no ‘live’ human interaction.
  • If there is ‘live’ human interaction, it is on the teacher’s timeline and not yours. One huge advantage of homeschooling is having real flexibility! You lose this if you must meet someone else’s schedule.
  • Parents may still need to keep records depending on the program.
  • Often, too many of these online programs simply have a quick video or lesson to read and then a few questions to answer. Because of the format, these questions are typically all multiple-choice questions. There is no ability to have students learn to express and write out their thoughts or to be creative.
  • Parents have very limited interaction with the child or the work .

Using skill-based and unit/theme based printable, teaching materials:

For transparency purposes, my company, My Teaching Library, fits into this category.

Pros of using skill-based and unit/theme based printable teaching materials.
  • Materials are selected to meet each unique learner where he or she is.
  • Day to day lessons are assigned as the parent decides. If more time is needed or a bunny trail or teachable moment happens, it isn’t an issue! Exciting things can happen as deeper learning and interests are explored.
  • Creative expression is valued and practiced often
  • Encourages parent-child interaction and is typically more relaxed and enjoyable.
  • Allows for extreme flexibility in lesson planning and daily schedules.
  • Can be the least expensive way to homeschool (if you are an All-Access member of My Teaching Library)
Cons of using skill-based and unit/theme based printable teaching materials.

After 30+ years of experience and year of interacting with thousands of homeschooling families, I truly believe this is the best way to homeschool, so I can only say that the cons are what parents believe.

Here is a list the most common reasons homeschooling parents give for not trying to ‘do it themselves’ through the use of printable teaching materials that are not already laid out in a step by step format…

  1. Parents believe they don’t have the knowledge to teach without a prepared, boxed or online program.
    In most cases, this simply is not true! In fact, the most important thing to know is ‘what to teach.’ I cover that in Part 2 of this series. Once you know what should be taught, then you simply find, download, print and use the materials you need to teach a skill or concept. If a child needs extra practice, you give it to them through additional printables. If they ‘get it’ without doing an entire workbook or unit of printables on the same skill, you simply move on!
  2. Parents believe they don’t have time to lesson plan.
    I can tell you that, unless you use a fully online platform (and that platform only) you will need to lesson plan regardless of what type of program you choose. In my opinion, the cons of using online platforms far out way the cons of doing a little lesson planning. Once you get a little experience behind you (a month or so), most parents are only spending 15-30 minutes a week creating a lesson plan for the next week. You can find everything you need to create your own lesson plans in My Teaching Library’s Mega-Organizer.
  3. Parents worry about record keeping.
    You’ll most likely need to keep some type of records regardless of what type of program you use. The records you are required to keep all depends on the homeschooling law in your state. (See Part 1 of this series for how to find out what those are.) Also, you can find everything you need in My Teaching Library’s Mega-Organizer.
  4.  Parents worry it is too expensive to print what is needed.
    After years of printing myself, I recommend getting an Epson ecotank! The initial expense will quickly be recovered in the money you save from not having to purchase other types of programs, plus ecotanks are very cost effective when it comes to ink!
I do hope that you will be inspired to take homeschooling
by the reigns and go full steam ahead after reading this series!

I also hope you’ll be inspired to at least try to teach without feeling the need to use a prepared, boxed curriculum or an online program. However, if you do decide to decide try one or both, that’s okay…but just be aware that they may not be everything you thought they’d be.

Always remember…

  • Keep your homeschooling journey joyful, fun, and relaxed!
  • You are your child’s first and best teacher.
  • No one knows your child better than you.
  • No one has the right to shape and mold your child more than you do.

If you have questions about homeschooling
or My Teaching Library, please feel free to ask.
Click here to leave a message!

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Top Homeschooling Questions Answered (Part 2)

Whether you are considering homeschooling for the first time or have been homeschooling for a while, you’ve most likely asked yourself the following questions…

  1. When and how should I begin?
  2. What do I need to teach?
  3. What are the best programs to use?

In part 1 of this series, I answered question #1, “When and how should I begin?”.

In part 2 of the series, I’m will answer question #2, “What do I need to teach?

Before I begin, here is a recap of my qualifications:

As an educator with over 30+ years of experience, I’d like to help you answer these questions! But before I do, let me give you a little more insight into my background…

As I previously stated, I have 30+ years of experience in education. I hold two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in education and the other in psychology and have completed multiple postgraduate courses. I’ve worked in the public school system in the U.S. and Japan before becoming a full-time homeschooling parent. I also served as a founding member and coach for the 10 Greatest Gifts Project and am owner of and content creator for My Teaching Library.

…and my beliefs on education:

My educational journey and teaching experiences have only solidified my belief that every child is a masterpiece. All are unique. Trying to teach all children all the same isn’t the answer. We should nurture every child as a unique learner.  I also believe, both as an educator and a parent, that no one knows a child better than an engaged parent.

So, now that you know who I am and my beliefs, I’ll answer the question…

What do I need to teach?

My answer: Teach the skills and concepts needed to be successful in each major subject, (Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies). Beyond that, you should also teach whatever else is required by the law where you live, (see part 1 for a link to check U.S. State laws) such as foreign language, P.E., etc. States will often differ in what is required for classes outside of the four major subjects.

A child’s educational journey is 13 years long (Kindergarten – 12th grade) and throughout that journey, many skills and concepts will be introduced, reinforced and built upon over several grades. To help guide educators, these skills and concepts are typically given by grade-level. However, always remember that every child is different.

Some children may not be ready to learn and master certain skills or grasp certain concepts during the given ‘grade’ where the skill is listed.

Some children may be ahead by a grade (or more) in one area and yet not in another. So, as you homeschool your child, always remember that these given skills and concepts are only meant to help guide but should never be used to compare. Meet your child where they are and go forward!

Haven’t ‘standards’ (skills and concepts) changed through the years?

Yes! Over the 30+ years I’ve been in education, those in charge of public education have changed (and will continue to change) grade-level skills and concepts and the ‘way’ things may be taught.

I began teaching long before ‘common core’ was developed and implemented. Not long after its adoption, many educators began screaming to do away with it. Today, after the lock downs of the pandemic and school children having lost a couple years of real, person to person instruction, many in education are now wanting to lower standards!

As a homeschooling parent, I urge you not to get caught up in the ever changing, landscape of skills and concepts (as defined by legislatures) but instead, find and use a solid, tried and true list of the most important skills and concepts that should be taught

Where to you find the skills and concepts that should be taught?

My Teaching Library offers everyone FREE ACCESS to an online, solid, tried and true list of grade-level skills and concepts for K through 12th grades for each core subject.

These lists can be found on the home page of My Teaching Library!

Now that you know how to access the ever important skills and concepts that should be taught for the four core subjects, I will address the last question in this series, “What are the best programs to use?” in part 3.

Read Part 3 now!

(Want to receive new blog posts from My Teaching Library in your inbox when they are published? Simply enter your email in the box where it says “Follow My Teaching Library” just to the right of the title of this article.)


  • Teach your child specific skills and concepts for a successful learning journey.
  • Don’t get caught up in the ever changing landscape of public education’s recommended lists
  • My Teaching Library offers an online, solid list of important skills and concepts to guide you through (K-12th grade)