If you’ve noticed my curricula list then you’ve probably guessed that we are very eclectic at our house. While I lean mostly classical, I have Charlotte Mason moments and unit study days. You’ll find textbooks and workbooks amidst the living books in our school room. You’ll find lots of art supplies as well as bins of math manipulatives. You’ll also notice books from nearly every homeschool publisher. Really, I think I am the very definition of eclectic (or maybe it’s just confused…)
Either way, I love to choose our books for the new school year. I painstakingly research different publishers and curricula options. Then I carefully pick books from a variety of places and piece together our school year.
Does this take more work for me? Yes. Do I mind? Nope. I’m a curricula junkie and I find joy in the eclectic variety that infuses our days.
I don’t exactly use a boxed curriculum. Let me define boxed curriculum. This is curriculum that is put together for you-every subject comes together in one giant box with an organized schedule for you to follow. Many times the books come from the same publisher. Sometimes, however, they are a variety of books from different publishers that have been put together on one schedule. These curricula options are usually put together by grade level and some even have a few options – like choosing between which two science or math curricula you want in your box.
So, before I tell you why I don’t use a boxed curriculum, let me be clear. I’m not saying that a boxed curriculum is a bad thing. Can I say that again? A boxed curriculum is not bad. In fact, many of them are quite good-well planned, carefully selected, wonderfully organized, incredibly thorough. Boxed curriculum works well for many homeschool families.
But boxed curriculum is not for me. Why?
Uneven Learning Levels – My kids don’t neatly fit into one grade level. Curly is an incredibly advanced reader and is starting to take off in her writing skills. Her math skills were left in the dust however. Tiger is the opposite. That boy can do some math and he has amazing retention with science topics. However, he cannot get the hang of reading! If I use a boxed curriculum I don’t have the option to place them at wildly different levels in various subjects. While there are some options to switch out levels, it would be too difficult for me to match the correct level to each child for every subject.
Flexibility – I would have a hard time following the pre-planned schedule with all the various curricula in my box. I am someone who “tweaks” everything I do. There is no way that I would be happy with everything chosen for me, everything laid out, everything scheduled, and everything put together. I like the flexibility of scheduling our own studies.
Unique Learning Styles – I find that some boxed curricula caters mainly to one dominant learning style. Each curricula caters to a different one. But in our house I have 5 little people who I can already tell have vastly different learning styles. Therefore, I like to choose curricula from many different publishers so I can feel like I hit each learning style.
Variety – I worry that if I chose a boxed curricula that I would become bored. This may very well be incorrect, but I’m afraid that using materials that are put together by one company will begin to feel too similar and I will feel stuck in a rut. I enjoy trying new things and I like variety in our homeschool. I like a textbook here, a workbook there, a few living books, and some classically based learning of Latin and history on a 4-year cycle. In other words, I pull from a variety of methods and there is not a boxed curricula that touches on all the homeschool methods. I like for each subject to feel varied and for our schedule to have little surprises.
Curricula Junkie Tendencies – But the main reason that I don’t use a boxed curricula is because I am a curricula junkie. I LOVE homeschool curricula. I love researching it. I love reading about it. I love ordering it (this is my hubby’s least favorite part). I love having multiple boxes arrive at my door. I love paging through the variety of resources. I love creating my own schedule. I love having a little something different in every school day.
So, that’s why I don’t use a boxed curriculum. Although, one day that may change. There might be one year that we use a boxed curriculum for whatever reason. I’m never ruling them out for good. I just know that for right now we’ve found our “sweet spot” with our hodge-podge of resources and our flexible schedule. Plus, I like watching my resources arrive in many, many boxes!