What does “curriculum” mean?


In the homeschooling world, you’ll hear the word “curriculum” used all the time.  Don’t be embarrassed if you aren’t sure what this means.  Unless you have been a classroom teacher, or used teacher resources before, it isn’t exactly a word you hear all the time.

Curriculum is a program or a course of study that is used to teach some topic or a single academic subject.  It is commonly used as both a singular and a plural noun (although some people like to say, “curricula” as plural instead).

When talking about curriculum, you might say to a friend,

“I am shopping for a curriculum that I can use to teach middle school science.”


“A friend of mine told me about a great spelling curriculum that she used for her 4th grader. I am thinking of trying it, too.”

A curriculum can take the form of a textbook or a workbook, or as loose-leaf pages kept in a 3-ring binder.  It can also be computer software, a series of DVDs, or even content delivered by an online provider.  The shape or form isn’t what makes the curriculum what it is (although that can be important as well), it’s the content, meaning what specifically is being taught.

Curriculum doesn’t have to be purchased.  It can also be free.  As a matter of fact, a good, old fashioned curriculum can be created from a variety of materials that have been gathered together and are used in a certain sequence to teach the subject.

As you can see, curriculum refers to any course of study that is used to teach an idea or an academic subject.  The homeschooling marketplace is full of choices when it comes to curriculum that you can purchase.  Or, you can choose to develop your own curriculum at home.

Were you also looking for:

What is “scope and sequence”?

Course Placement: where should your child begin?

Creating homeschool lesson plans — the easy way!

Marie-Claire Moreau, Quick Start Homeschool




I offer a book that will help make curriculum organization easy!  Find it HERE in my store.

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  1. […] Traditional curriculum, for instance, can be purchased on the cheap in any number of places. Used book sites, curriculum fairs, auction sites or from friends in local homeschooling groups are just the beginning. If that’s even more than your budget can afford, look online for free online textbooks, free lesson plans, and free audio and video courses, available for the taking.  There are thousands and, below, you’ll find just a few great links to start you off. […]

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