WFMW: Trying Curriculum On For Size

As a new homeschooling family, we’ve really struggled with how to make the “right” decisions with curriculum. We made a huge error with a curriculum in a box program for this year that has literally done nothing but collect dust. Ben and I have tried to use it, but he hates it so much that he just sobs when I ask him to try anything related to it. What I did last year was research, find something I thought we’d both like, and bought it.

This year? I’m not doing that. Well, I am. I’m still researching. I am listening in on discussions all over the Internet about curriculum (one very fruitful place is The Well Trained Mind K-8 Curriculum Forum). While I’m not prepared to go wholly down the path of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Editition), I do really like the discussions that happen in their forums and I’ve found some good leads on curriculum that way. Once I’ve found those leads, I review everything I can find about the curriculum I’m considering, and I search, diligently for samples at the grade level that I need.

This is where the genius is, though, I then print out a lesson at the level that Ben will be and LET HIM TRY IT OUT. We’ve found our math, spelling, and geography curricula for next year that way. We tried Singapore and he didn’t like it, but then we tried Math Mammoth and he did. I used that information to help me refine a little what I was looking at and found the spelling and geography on the first try. If he loves it, and he’s asking to get to do it, then I’ve found the right thing.

And this is what works for me. Head on over the We Are THAT Family to find out what works for others.

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6 thoughts on “WFMW: Trying Curriculum On For Size

  1. Oh how fun! I think I would have enjoyed that when I was first getting started!

    I started with a box curriculum too. It took a few years to find exactly what we like and it still evolves over time, especially for science and history.

    • History/social studies is going to be my Waterloo. I think he’s going to like what I found for geography, but I can’t find the kinds of things he would prefer for the rest. I’m going to have to think about it more (and be grateful that we’re really just doing mostly kindergarten with some grade 1 material mixed in, so I can ease into the history part while I try to find something that works for us).

      It does not help that I’m a history snob, so I want it to fit with my concept of how history should be taught rather than with what is necessarily the norm, you know?

  2. Oh, it’s time to start getting ready for next year. We use a variety of curriculum resources and publishers. We just have to use with works best for each one. I’ve not use a “curriculum in a box” type program before, but I did consider Tapestry of Grace. I couldn’t do it, my daughter couldn’t do it, It stressed me out just looking through the program and trying to figure out how it worked! Keep up the good work!

    • Yeah, the schedule and the circle time and all that in ours was making me crazy. My kid doesn’t understand the concept of circle time or why he might want to do that.

  3. Refining is part of the home education process. We started with a full K curriculum 6 yrs ago. UGH! It took some changing of my own thinking processes, but I’m very happy now being eclectic.

    • That’s what ours was — full K in the box, Waldorfy, art-based (and that should have been my clue that I wasn’t going to be happy with it), and slow, slow, slow.

      Unfortunately, Ben’s brain doesn’t work at slow speed. If he can’t move fast or at a speed he wants then he’s not interested. He doesn’t have great fine motor control yet, so the art part was extremely frustrating for him. And he likes computers, so the Waldorf approach seems to have been a particularly bad fit.

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