Big Box Curriculum

Heavily Pruned Email of the Day:
I got a big box curriculum do with my 6/7yo this year. Getting through it has been a challenge. It’s taking us 5+ hours a day, and we’ve been working weekends and holidays which is making us miserable. Should we work thought the summer? That idea is devastating. How do we pick and choose what to cover over the next few weeks? What about next year?

You’re just pointed out the biggest problem folks have with “big box curriculum.”

A few thoughts:
1) The very best piece of homeschooling advice I ever got was right when we’d first started, and I was making my then 7yo 2nd grader miserable with the multiplication tables. And my friend said, “Why does she need to know that NOW?”

And she was right — whenever we tried to stuff knowledge in that child’s head, everyone ended up tired and miserable. When we waited for her to be ready and pursued things in her own time, they came far easier.

2) Most big box curriculum, like most public school curriculum, has several chapters of overlap between the end of the one grade, and the beginning of the next. This is for people who’ve taken off the summer, and students need a “refresher.”

I don’t know about you, but I know the one and only time I ever finished a textbook in school was the few years I was in an “advanced” math class, which was three of us who were bored, being allowed to work as fast as we wanted to.

3) Your big box curriculum probably has placement tests (and probably free) to help you decide if she’s gone “far enough” this year. They may also offer the ability to pick and choose between grades instead of doing everything in a single grade.

3a) Most people quickly find that a big box curriculum for a single grade doesn’t work — their kidlet works faster in some things, and slower in others. So they start mixing and matching.

4) Go get a copy of E.D. Hirsch’s “What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know.” Your library has it. Pick up 1st and 2nd grade. Thumb through with your kidlet. See what *he knows.

5) Stop this year’s homeschooling as soon as the PS kidlet is out (or maybe sooner). Stop doing things in the evenings and on weekends and holidays.

6) There is no “fail” in homeschool. We have the opportunity to proceed at our kidlet’s pace. And yours isn’t even homeschooling age yet. Take the pressure off. Double back and think about what parts of homeschooling you (and especially *he) really like, and focus your attentions and efforts there.

Delaying Formal Instruction

Ma href=””>Attention, Parents of Children Under the Age of 8

I’ll ask you the same question Susan Murray asked me so many years ago: Why does *he need to know this NOW?
If your best or only answer is “Because it’s in the __grade curriculum?” I’m going to gently suggest that you might want to wait until *he’s receptive.