Determining if a Homeschool Boxed Curriculum is the Right Fit
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After 10+ years of homeschooling, I would like to share with you my personal experience with “School In a Box” kits versus planning on your own. I have done both and each for an extended period; so I would like to share my takeaway with you.
Determining if a Homeschool Boxed Curriculum is the Right Fit
When I first started homeschooling like many of you it was an entirely new venture, I knew I didn’t want my children in the public school system. I also knew I wasn’t ready to send my child off to anyone else at 4/5 years old for an extended period of time daily.
Once I began doing all the typical research, also like many of you I quickly became overwhelmed. Starting the process of choosing curriculum is stressful. We want to make the right choice and yet there are so many things that only experience can teach us sometimes no matter how much we research, right?
I knew I was not prepared to choose and pull curriculum from various sources. Because I didn’t know enough about homeschooling in general, I didn’t feel comfortable to try and lesson plan on my own. So I made a choice for my family to order what many refer to as an accredited “school in a box kit” and I will tell you why I am unapologetic looking back on it.
School in a box is essentially everything you need for that school year or semester included in the shipped box or boxes. You won’t need to supplement anything in most cases. However, in some cases you may need to supplement recommended readers or companion books.
You will need to purchase your own school supplies such as pencils, paper, crayons, etc. but other than that everything you need is in the box. Typically there is also a daily lesson planner included (all filled out) so the planning pressure is off of you.
This can be a fantastic option for your first 1-3 years of homeschooling or if you have multiple kiddos. We did this Pre K – 2nd grade, and it created an excellent foundation for my daughter and I both. We were entering entirely new territory, and this took so much guesswork and stress out of the equation. She and I spent those years focused on just the learning.
Homeschool In A Box Versus Planning Your Own Curriculum
As far as my daughter, she learned fundamentals that I couldn’t have taught well enough at that point for them to stick with her. The program we chose was right for us at the time and set her up with an excellent foundation in Bible, Math, and Language. This foundation paid off when we later branched out into other sources of curricula.
As far as momma…let me tell you I learned a lot! I learned that I could lesson plan on my own. In those first few years we had determined what my child’s learning style was. We figured out that certain subjects weren’t meshing with her or I because we both learned differently! Imagine that. Our kids aren’t carbon copies of ourselves. Wink.
Those first few years I gained confidence as her teacher, and I got to know my student on an intimate level. We both could branch out with confidence after this experience. There were periods of course that we all have with our children – they get frustrated, they cry, we get frustrated that “they just don’t get it,” or we think they should pick this up by now. But that can happen with any curriculum. Honestly, homeschooling is a beautiful journey of getting to know your children on a deeper level than you ever think possible.
After those few years of school in a box I decided I was ready to pull from various sources and make my own lesson plans. Some of you may think 3-4 years is a long time for me to decide to transition over to lesson planning on my own. But everyone is different.
It took me a while to feel confident enough to try it, yet I know many moms who go right into it in their first year. That’s awesome if you can do that! I needed the experience and time first.
As far as pulling from various sources to create your own curriculum – if you don’t have teaching experience be patient with yourself. It does take a bit of time to find choices that work well with you and your children. It helps to know their learning style and also how you learn and comprehend. If you and your child are opposites, then you need to make some adjustments, but that’s one of the most magical parts of homeschooling! You can customize the curriculum for each child, and who knows your child better than you momma? You get to create a customized education for your kiddos, that is such a huge blessing for you and your family. We need to remind ourselves of that more often.
We even debated going back to “School In A Box” at one point, I found it was more complicated to lesson plan and prep with two littles at home. With so many responsibilities for mom, it felt like time to take some lesson planning off my plate. But when we weighed the options, I thought about the loss of our freedom, and the loss of choosing all of our curriculum. Our family enjoys the tailored choices for each child specifically, and there just aren’t enough benefits now to go back for a measure of convenience. We love our eclectic mix of what fits each child’s learning style and current season. Our family loves that homeschooling can shift with whatever season we are in.
Unapologetically do what is best for your family in your current season.
In years past I have spent almost as much buying curriculum from multiple sources as it cost me to bundle school in a box. By the time I searched and found the best choices for us in each subject, and the necessary supplies, supplemental books and everything we use – it didn’t save me a ton of money.
I have spent $895-$1100 on an accredited box kit, and I have also spent $700-900 on curriculum for a school year on my own. So just for comparison sake, it depends on what curriculum, books, and styles you choose. However, some moms know how to pull everything they need to educate their children off the internet for FREE. Impressive if you can do that.
Homeschooling for free is smart, but also time-consuming to search down everything you need for free. I must add to that; I want the best quality education possible for my children and free isn’t always the best quality. I know that my time is valuable, and my children deserve a solid education so I won’t sacrifice good choices to say I got something for free.
Whatever stage you are in, I hope you are gaining the confidence you need and that the Lord is directing your path.
Reach out to me anytime if you need help learning how to choose curriculum or with homeschooling in general. I would love to hear from you and help in any way if I can. I have gained a lot of knowledge from both options, and see the value and benefit to both.
Best of luck weighing your choices!