Choosing homeschool curriculum is like my very favorite part of planning for back to homeschool time. I mean, for each subject there are hundreds of options! I’m like a kid in a candy store looking through booths at homeschool conventions and catalogs from my favorite curriculum dealers (I mean… companies!) But this year is different. I’m not making a curriculum list at all this year. In fact, the only curriculum we’ve purchased so far was Mr. C’s 4th-grade math books. So today I thought I’d share why we aren’t making a curriculum list this year.
Why We Aren’t Making a Curriculum List This Year
See, there’s a lot changing in our homeschool this year. We’re teaching more of the kids, I had a new baby during the first month of our school year, Chris is home full-time, and we’ve just had a lot going on. So why not add another major change and not make a curriculum list?!
To be fair, I will say that we have the opportunity to try out tons of really awesome homeschool curriculum because of this blog. So while I’m not making a curriculum list or really shopping for much, we’ll still try new things throughout the year and we’ll hang onto the things we really love to use regularly in our homeschool. Now, let’s really dig into why we aren’t making a curriculum list this year.
Our Plans Never Really Work Out
This is the biggest reason we’ve got. I make beautiful plans and spend months researching curriculum choices, and I make big lists of exactly what homeschool curriculum we’ll be using. Then by the third month of school we’ve “tweaked” the curriculum so much it’s unrecognizable, swapped it for something else, or given it up entirely!
I’m an over planner, and it really just got exhausting making the perfect plan only to get a few weeks in and realize that it wasn’t so perfect really. Because I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned over the last few years of homeschooling… There really is pretty much no curriculum that will fit your family perfectly. Most curriculum will get pretty dang close, but you’ll always have to be tweaking!
We’re Homeschooling Three Kids This Year
Another reason we decided to ditch the curriculum list is because we’re homeschooling all three boys this year. Mr. C is headed to fourth grade in most subjects, A-Man is “repeating” kindergarten, and Cap’n M is starting preschool. If we were to get a curriculum for each kid to learn each subject, we’d be doing school for 18 hours a day.
When it was just Mr. C it was totally simple to choose the perfect (or closest to perfect!) curriculum for each individual subject that fit his learning style, interests, and my own abilities and preferences. Then we added in A-Man and finding the perfect curriculum for him was a bit harder because we had to find autism-friendly curriculum. Now adding in a third kiddo who’s desperate to “do school” like his brothers but has a developmental delay to handle? That’s a lot of different curriculum we’d need.
All the Kids Have Different Needs
Mr. C is gifted. He’s “supposed” to be in 2nd grade, but he’s in 4th for every subject except writing. He excells in reading and thrives learning most subjects through literature. Writing is a major struggle and we have found some success in tailoring his writing assignments to relate to what he’s reading.
A-Man is hands-on all the way. He gets really bored being read to, so literature-based programs are pretty much out. We add in a lot of independent fine motor practice for him, rather than traditional “handwriting” programs, and we had to find him a way to do math without a workbook!
Cap’n M is a rough and tumble preschooler who thinks he’s a lot older than he is. He’s doing a lot of cutting activities and starting to learn to trace shapes and some letters. He loves to color and finding fun screen time activities that count as “school” is his favorite thing.
In case you can’t tell, we’d need about 247 different curriculum choices to make sense of all that! So what in the world are we doing instead?
We’re Switching to (Mostly) Unit Studies
We’re switching this year to homeschooling (mostly) with unit studies. For those who don’t already know, a unit study is when you pick a certain topic and create all of your lessons around that topic. So say you’re doing a unit study on “oceans”. Your fourth grader could do a research project on an ocean animal of choice, read a few novels with an ocean theme, learn the different layers of the ocean, etc.
So say you’re doing a unit study on “oceans”. Your fourth grader could do a research project on an ocean animal of choice, read a few novels with an ocean theme, learn the different layers of the ocean, etc. At the same time your kindergartener might be read some picture books about ocean life, do ocean-related crafts that require fine motor practice, and learn 5 things about an ocean animal of choice. Then your preschooler could color ocean themed coloring pages, do an “o is for octopus” letter activity, and watch the Octonauts (because let’s be real here…).
The beauty of the unit study is that all of the kids can complete the same study together, but all on their own level and at their own pace. They can also learn the same exact information, but learn it in different ways. Often Mr. C will read a book, A-Man will use a sensory bin or other hands-on learning method, and Cap’n M will watch something or play a tablet game, and they’ll all learn the same thing.
We’ll Buy Curriculum as We Find Specific Needs
Now, the caveat to this post about not making a curriculum list is that we will still buy curriculum as we find specific needs. For now, that means that Mr. C got the next level of math (we’re using Saxon 5/4 this year) and A-Man is still using the Saxon K curriculum we got for him last year.
We also hang onto all of our favorite curriculum that we’ve been given to try through reviews and such on this site or curriculum we purchased previously but didn’t use all the way. We use bits and pieces of everything when we find that one of the boys is struggling in an area and needs an extra boost. Plus we love finding fun supplements to use, so we get plenty of things like online reading supplements and fine motor activities.
Some of Our Favorite Homeschool Curriculum
While this post is about how we’re not buying a bunch of curriculum this year, I wanted to share some of our favorite homeschool curriculum that we’re keeping on hand to use throughout the year as needed!
Have you made a curriculum list this year? I’d love to hear what’s on it!
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