After a lot of prayer and mulling it over, I've decided it's time for our family to stop buying a boxed curriculum for homeschooling. We have used two different kinds of boxed curriculum for four out of five years of homeschooling and while I think going the boxed route was exactly what we needed during that time, it's time for us to spread our wings a bit and choose our own curriculum.
I am not against boxed curriculum by any means, but for our family, I have several reasons why I think we're ready to branch out. In case you're trying to decide whether or not boxed curriculum is for you or not, here are some things to consider.
When I was new to homeschooling I LOVED the idea of having our curriculum chosen for us.
The boxed curriculums we chose were geared towards teaching multiple aged children which was perfect for us. Going this route gave me the confidence I needed to start homeschooling because I had the "experts" telling us what to study. It also saved me a lot of time because all of the curriculum choices and lesson plans were done for us and it helped me to learn a different way of teaching besides just giving worksheets after teaching a lesson.
All of that was necessary and helpful for us and it helped inch us closer to the next step that we are taking.
Starting this fall, we will be studying books and curriculum that I have hand picked based on the needs and interests of my children, but also with my own needs and interests in mind.
I really enjoyed choosing which companies to buy from, what areas we get to study, and which books I want to use.
It also means I get to make our own school schedule. This was big for me because over the last several years when my husband had certain holidays off for work (like Columbus Day) I felt that we still had to do school so we wouldn't get behind in "the schedule". Now, I worked those days off into our schedule so that I don't feel guilty for not doing school on those days and the kids get the extra time with their dad that they need and love.
I also like to take the time to celebrate the seasons and holidays and when I was following the predetermined schedule I didn't feel like I had time to deviate from it. Now, if I want to spend extra time studying a holiday, we can do so without feeling like we have to cram it in on top of the other required work which inevitably created more stress for the kids and me.
For example, my oldest son is really into anatomy now. Why not capitalize on that interest and make that our science focus for the year?
I am not taking an unschooling approach where we just study whatever suits our fancy that day, but I am taking advantage of the natural learning interests of each our children and plugging that into our curriculum. Neither I, nor a classroom teacher can possibly teach them every single thing there is to know, but if I can continue to cultivate a love for learning, they will naturally fill in what they need to know along the way. Since we can't possibly cover it all between the first day of Kindergarten and the last day of 12th grade, we might as well not waste our time studying things we don't want to learn about when we can study what we do want to learn about.
There will always be topics and subjects that they don't want to learn about and we'll still be touching on those, but the bulk of our time will not be focused on them. I love the freedom that homeschooling gives us to choose areas of study that line up with what we already love. After all, I believe God has perfectly equipped each of our children with interests and talents that equip them for the calling He has placed on their lives. I want to work with that rather than against it.
A bonus to doing our own thing? I was able to shave about $200 off the total cost of educating 3 children.
What Does the Overall Approach to Our Homeschooling Look Like?
The literature based approach that I learned from the boxed curriculums is such a good fit for us so we will lean heavily on living books rather than textbooks. (Although I still have a spine book (more like a textbook) for history and science. A spine book will give us the main outline to draw from but we can branch out from there with our own living books).
We don't really fit into one style of homeschooling but I would say we draw heavily from a Charlotte Mason approach as well as an eclectic style. I will continue a multi-level teaching approach so that everyone can benefit from some of the subjects such as Bible, history, art and science but for other subjects such as math, reading, writing and handwriting we will use levels specific to the needs of each child.
I'm excited to share with you what resources I have discovered so check back tomorrow for a specific look at what we're using for school this fall.
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