What is Boxed Curriculum?
Homeschooling can be a daunting task–especially when you don’t know where to begin. Boxed curriculum is a great place to start for those who feel overwhelmed. It is just what you might expect–curriculum in a box! Boxed curriculum is typically thought to be almost everything you need for a school year. You might need to add on math or language arts, but everything else you should need is wrapped up in a neat little package inside the box.Homeschooling can be a daunting task. Boxed curriculum is a great place to start! Click To Tweet
Our Lives Inside the Box
When we first started homeschooling, I didn’t have a boxed curriculum. I did, however, have boxes and boxes of workbooks and worksheets. I had been a public school teacher for 10 years. All my teaching stuff was in my garage driving my husband batty. I believed that I had the materials that my son needed to succeed somewhere inside those 300 boxes.
The problem was that my son was a typical boy. He didn’t like sitting down and doing worksheets. He was much more of a “hands on and talk about it” type of learner. So, at the end of that year, I signed up to attend a homeschool convention. I walked around the vendor hall and literally prayed, “God, lead me to something that will be good for Will. Help me find something he will enjoy too.” I firmly believe God had his hand on my back, guiding me to the same booth over and over until I finally surrendered to God’s will.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 ESV
The next year went much smoother. It was especially nice to have a formal boxed curriculum since I was working part time. I didn’t have to take extra time to plan. I could easily immerse myself in homeschool on my days off. We also enjoyed the boxed curriculum that God led us to much more than what we had been doing.
Debunking the Myths about Boxed Curriculum
Myth #1: Boxed Curriculums Include Everything You Need
Many boxed curriculum require you to purchase something else, such as math and language arts or a foreign language program.
Myth #2: If You Follow a Boxed Curriculum, You Won’t Have Any Freedom
You are always free to put your own spin on things. In fact, I highly encourage it! You don’t want to get to the end of a school year thinking about all the things you wish you had done to make it more fun. (I know this from experience!)
Myth #3: It is Easier to Follow a Boxed Curriculum Than To Create Your Own
In some cases this may be true, but not always. If you want to put together your own curriculum, you can easily find a few good books from various sources that you want to follow. Never underestimate the value of deciding on a few subjects you really want to explore and using your library as a resource.
Myth #4: I Can’t Afford a Boxed Curriculum for Each of My Children
Many companies have caught on to the fact that it can be difficult to teach multiple ages different things at the same time. To solve the problem, they have created a system to teach multiple levels at the same time. In these cases, you would only have to buy one box. Some companies will also sell their returned or damaged materials at a discount to those in financial need.
Myth #5: Boxed Curriculums are More Rigorous
Some people think boxed curriculums are more rigorous because they are put together by professionals. Since you are the teacher and principal, you get to decide how rigorous you want your curriculum to be. Many boxed curriculums actually tout being gentle because they want to be more appealing. It’s all about what you put into it!
Boxed Curriculums Worth Trying
I’ve already discussed reading, writing, math, science, and history in previous posts. Now it’s time to name a few Christian boxed curriculums that are worth checking out…
My Father’s World was the first boxed curriculum that we used. In hind sight, I completely understand why God led us to it. Biblical concepts were well-covered. The topics were also fun and the amount of books included was wonderful. We are a reading family and my son LOVES to read. Not only that, but there were also lots of suggested book lists that we could comb for at the library. This curriculum was a reader’s dream! The writing was gentle, which my son definitely needed at the time.
Many people rave over the Sonlight curriculum. It is another book-heavy boxed curriculum, though a bit pricier than My Father’s World. While I have never used it personally, I do peruse their reading list for great ideas and have never been disappointed.
This is another curriculum that I haven’t used personally, but the book recommendations are also excellent. I think this might be the most price-conscious option. Just because something isn’t more expensive doesn’t make it a bad choice. There is a good chance I would have tried this curriculum if I hadn’t already been sold on My Father’s World.
Tapestry of Grace is another great curriculum that teaches the Bible and history in chronological order. I actually did a review on the very first introductory year, Tapestry of Grace’s Primer. Our family really enjoyed how thorough it was. We know several other families that love it as well.
In all honesty, I checked out Classical Conversation early on, but didn’t fully understand it. It relies heavily on memorizing a bunch of facts in the main subject areas. Musical CDs help with the memorization. Little ones can recite many facts that they don’t really understand. The idea is that the facts will already be memorized later when they are able to understand and apply them.
My son is gifted. Gifted students usually want to understand the why behind what they are learning, not just learn a bunch of facts. With that in mind, I didn’t think it was the perfect fit for us. Now that my son is almost in middle school (What?! Time flies!), I see how having a bunch of facts memorized may help him in his studies. Not only that, but my girls (4 and 6) are at the perfect age for memorizing a bunch of facts that will help them in the future.
With this in mind, we jumped in learning this on our own last year. Even if you don’t want to use this as your main curriculum, the CDs help you learn a lot while we are in the car. If you do want to jump in full force, there are many Classical Conversations communities that you can join throughout the country.
What’s In Your Box?The funny thing about God’s will is that it isn’t the same for every season of our lives. Click To Tweet
The funny thing about God’s will is that it isn’t the same for every season of our lives. I firmly believe I was called to be a public school teacher for a time. I also believe God showed me My Father’s World because it was the perfect curriculum for us at the time. We are now doing Classical Conversations on our own, though I hesitate to say that we are using it as a “boxed” curriculum because we add in so many other things.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are the parent and teacher. You make the curriculum, not the other way around. Put your own spin on it. Enjoy it. Skip over activities that may not be ideal for your family. (I know this is hard for people like me!) Once I got away from having to fill in every blank, I was able to relax and enjoy school. We were able to enjoy field trips without feeling like we were falling behind.
Pray and listen to the voice of God. He knows what is best for you family–including what curriculum will help you teach your children what they need to know while drawing them closer to Him.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV
What does your curriculum look like this year?
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Amy Christensen says
This was a great review. I homeschooled my two daughters all the way through high school so there was a lot of hit and miss. I did a combination of “boxed” and unboxed curriculum and it worked. They both got a high school diploma. One went on to college and got a degree and the other is holding down a job, has her own apartment and takes good care of her six year old son. That was one of the reasons I loved to homeschool…because we could teach what we wanted, how we wanted. Thanks for sharing. – Amy
Susan Evans says
I’ve never liked boxed curriculum, but I have heard good things about My Father’s World. A lot of the books they use are books that I also used, so we have a similar way of homeschooling.
Alice Mills says
I liked some boxed curriculum, especially if the subject wasn’t my strongest. They are just tools to use as you have need.
You are exactly right–they are just tools. It’s the teacher and the kids that make the difference!
It’s also up to the individual home, no? What works for one may not work for the other
Love this information and these ideas!! I have a young daughter who will be starting preschool soon and have been searching for a good curriculum. Your insights are helpful to me!
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In the past I’ve considered homeschooling and it is nice to have a resource and review like this. I’d buy a boxed curriculum probably. Very nice list of resources for moms considering homeschool!
Judith Kowles says
I would love to get a boxed curriculum in the mail! It would take all the guesswork out of selecting curriculum, right?! I used Tapestry of Grace for a couple years and loved it!
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It definitely would cut down on all those decisions we make every summer! I suppose you would still have to guess on whether or not it was the right box for you!
I love this. Im leaning again towards homeschooling and this post was so reassuring to me. I was homeschooled on th ABeka Academy curriculum. I also like Bob Jones. Box curriculums work for me because I can relax knowing their school requirements are being covered. Thanks for recommending the Classical Conversations and My Fathers World. I love the information and reading they seem to cover.
We started Classical Conversations last year. God knew exactly what we needed when we started….not only the curriculum but also the community. Midway through the year we moved to another state, and having a community already in place was amazing for my kids and myself.
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I admire how you are aware enough to know that God calls you to teach your kids differently at different times and to have grace for those who are teaching their kids in different ways. It’s encouraging to see such an open mind in a world that judges all the time.
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Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven not Harvard says
We did ACE last year supplementing with some Apologia science, some Latin/Greek root words, and Story of the World. This year we will be trying Lifepac from Alpha Omega.
Elizabeth Marshall says
As a full time grad student, wife, mom, and work several jobs from home I have found the boxed curriculum to be the best option for our family. I do enjoy having the hard part done for me but also having the freedom of making things fun and fit my kids learning styles more when necessary. We are using a mixture of My Father’s World and Lifepac. After this we will probably stick strictly with My Father’s World since I was gifted with a complete k-12 set from a family member.