Which curriculum you choose to purchase makes little difference to your student's academic performance.
Let's take this a step further: The data show it doesn't matter if you are homeschooled or public schooled. In the end, educational outcome boils down to a few key elements centering on the home environment... whether the student is educated there or not.
You may be wondering: But what of all those nice stats I've heard?
Milton Gaither sums it up this way: These studies show that "some middle-class, white, two-parent, conservative Protestant homeschoolers who volunteered for a research study that was pitched to them as a great opportunity to show off homeschooler success to the public, score in the 80th percentile or above on standardized tests." In short, the data is rigged, or, perhaps, merely unscientifically gathered.
Sonlight does something similar. When we talk about Academic Excellence (see point #5), we show a chart where our numbers are far above all others. That's because the only numbers we have are from our Scholarship Winners. We do state this, but the fact remains: Our graphic plays loose with stats to make a completely unsubstantiated claim. We'd need to put the few test scores we have against the test scores of similarly stellar students to be fair. We don't have that data, so we're stuck using what we've got.
The more research I see out there, the more painful this equality becomes. Painful because I want Sonlight to be the uncontested winner of all things awesome! At the same time, a deeper truth emerges... something I've been saying for a long time: Homeschooling is a great option! Feel free to use whatever will best fit your family; homeschooling is fantastic.
Who you are as a family matters far more than where your students imbibe their formal learning. I'm guessing that which curriculum you choose has a negligible impact on your family's dynamics... in large part because you can select a curriculum that fits your family.
Put simply, based on the available data, all things academic seem to even out between educational options.
All things being equal, how do you choose curriculum?
The way you choose anything: By balancing the options with your values. That's why we have our 27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight article. We want you to think through the values you have and see if they line up with what we offer. If not, please go find something that will work best for your family!
The one thing we can (and do!) guarantee is that you and your students will love learning together.
If all other things are equal, that's a really big deal. So, in a way, it does matter what curriculum you use because it's better, by far, to love learning than to merely muddle through.
Academic performance and relishing learning clearly aren't the only factors to consider when choosing curriculum and educational approach. What factors have encouraged you to make the choices you've made?
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester