Books and Products to Consider
In this series of articles, we'll look at the possibilities for choosing a curriculum. I'll warn you I have only used government homeschooling and a homemade curriculum. I've never purchased a packaged program, so I don't have much experience with that. I will make suggestions for choosing one and then lead you to a place where you can learn from someone with more experience.
If you have late summer to prepare, most larger areas have homeschool fairs that allow you to look at curricula and to ask questions. You can also attend some classes at most of them, although they're normally aimed at permanent homeschoolers.
Thanks to the Internet, you can also find lots of curricula resources online. There are many out there that are very good and there are some that are absolutely awful, even though they are advertised everywhere. You really need to do your homework.
To find out about a curricula, go to Google and put in the name of the program in quotation marks: "Homeschool Miracle Curriculum." (I made up that name, so I hope there isn't a real one called that.)
That makes Google only search for the entire name. Read reviews. If you don't get reviews, add the word reviews after the last quotation mark. Now, just to be really safe, erase reviews and put in scam. Read what comes up carefully. There are scam artists in the homeschooling world just as there are anywhere else. You might also try using the term lawsuit to see if the makers of the curriculum have ever been sued.. Find out the person who owns the curriculum and put that person's name in as well. Find out what kind of person is behind the program. Then look for a homeschool forum that welcomes temporary homeschoolers, or post on my blog, and ask if anyone knows anything about the ones you're interested in. Of course, even a good program will have people who don't like it--people are more likely to complain than to praise. But it's a starting point for your decision.
No curriculum is right for every child or teacher. What doesn't work for one child might be perfect for another, so study why people don't like it. If they say it requires too much teacher preparation and you like to prepare, that's not a negative for you. (I would be bored with a program that required nothing of me, but some parents want a program that does it all.) Even a bad review can convince you it's just what you're looking for.
Here is a site that has reviews by regular parents of various curriculum programs.
I listed a book in the right-hand column that might help, too. Cathy Duffy's book is very popular.
You're looking for a program that is well-reviewed, but also one that fits your needs. Some require a lot of work or knowledge on your part and some don't. For instance, I've heard Saxon math is boring, but parent-proof, meaning you personally don't need to be good at math to use it. I've never used them, so I'm just going by what I've heard, but one good thing about them is that they are sold by Barnes and Noble. My local one carries it right in the store during back-to-school season, although not the rest of the year. But it is available on the Barnes and Noble website all year. I'm adding a listing for one of their programs at the bottom of the article.
You need one that is right for your child. Some children (and parents) want a lot of hands-on work. Some just want drill-and-practice. You'll need to decide what kind of schooling you want to do. There are a lot of worksheet curricula; hands-on is harder to find.
Now let's look at the government homeschooling option, which is popular with temporary homeschoolers and not so much with permanent homeschoolers.
I've heard it said that Saxon is parent-proof (Dull, but parent-proof.) I'd have used it if I'd heard of it and then supplemented with fun activities.