Each Spring, as one school year begins to wind down, the curriculum sellers from all over begin their annual Homeschool Sales. Everything for less!! Buy Here!! Right? Only when you go to look, their sale prices are rarely any less expensive than if you bought straight from the publisher themselves. Such is the game.
I actually don’t mind playing, to be honest. One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is in finding the best curriculum programs for my kidlets’ learning styles for the best prices. It is time-consuming, but it’s so worth it. (Besides, I can say I have a hobby this way! LOL!)
We are a Charlotte Mason-esque, literature-based learning family. (To help define the “jargon” if you’re unsure, this post may help!) ComputerGuy was telling me the other night that sometimes when he’s asked, “What curriculum do you guys use?” (You know, usually asked by someone who wouldn’t know a homeschool curriculum company from any other company…) he’s discovered that there really isn’t an easy answer for them. Over the years of our homeschooling journey, our curriculum choices have evolved somewhat to get to where we are currently.
I started “officially” homeschooling Rocketboy when he was just 4. We worked through the basic ABCs and 123s with a preschool program I bought on CDs. Basically, it was a list of worksheets and activities for a teacher to do with little ones in an actual brick-and-mortar preschool or daycare setting. It was fun, we did some seasonal activities, made animals sounds, etc. I taped “sight words” around the house, and we didn’t even get close to completing everything on the CDs. (I remember the look ComputerGuy gave me one afternoon when he came home from work and discovered the door was labeled “door” and the wall was labeled “wall” and the sink was labeled “sink”, etc.) Yeah. Let’s just say that approach didn’t work for us, and later down the road, the girls were spared it. 😉
So that was 8 years ago now. I do call Rocketboy my “guineapig” because he was the child I learned on. The girls got to reap the benefits of those hard lessons. (I have since apologized, and have thankfully been forgiven! It apparently didn’t harm him too badly, as he’ll be going into high school this fall a year early. *yikes!*)
The first curriculum program we used on our homeschooling journey was Christian Liberty Academy. They are a very traditional workbook program that has the added feature of being accredited. At that time, I didn’t know that accreditation doesn’t really mean much other than bragging rights between schools. Colleges will never ask whether the school you attended was accredited, they look at ACT/SAT scores and transcripts and that’s it. But back then, the accreditation and the fact that I had to submit Rocketboy’s work into “real” teachers via snail mail was reassurance that I was “doing it right.” Only I wasn’t. His grades were good, but we were recreating public school at home. He had his little desk, I had mine, I even strung yarn clear across the family room so that we could pin up his artwork just like they do at public schools. (It’s all I’d ever known, so that’s what you’re “supposed” to do, right?)
It was about halfway through that first year that burnout hit. The deadlines that CLASS was setting were getting to be unrealistic for us, but I kept pressing him harder to get his work done. There were tears. Phonics was especially rough. We ended up not getting an official grade in it at all because we couldn’t complete the book by the deadline. He was getting to be an awesome reader, so I couldn’t understand why the work seemed to be so difficult. The reviews of this curriculum were all glowing from their website; what was I doing wrong?? (For the record, this is NOT what Kindergarten is supposed to be like!!)
One of the aspects of CLASS that did end up pulling to our advantage is that they (on a very limited basis) customize their curriculum to the student’s needs. In other words, this means they gave us a choice of three workbook publishers that they would support with their program and I could do my own research and pick which one we wanted to use. This was where we were first introduced to Abeka.
Abeka was still a traditional workbook company, but their books were bright, and colorful, friendly, such a big difference from the black on grey on blue and white of the CLASS books. Seems like such a tiny thing when I mention it now, but CLASS kinda shot themselves in the foot with the introduction of those books.
I soon realized that I didn’t need the handholding of a teacher grading everything I was teaching. I knew that Rocketboy was making awesome progress on his own and that there was a whole huge world of awesome curriculum programs out there just waiting to be discovered. 🙂
Next post… WinterPromise!
How did your homeschooling journey begin?
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