I know . . . I just blew your mind with the title of this post. I can hear your words echoing through my head right now. Isn’t this is the blog for the delight-directed unit study homeschooler? Those home educating parents that are just a hair’s breadth away from unschooling? The child-led, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-parents homeschool mom? The one who doesn’t like to plan much and certainly doesn’t want someone else’s lesson plan telling you what to do when?
So why are earth are you talking about using the dreaded “boxed homeschool curriculum?”
Hang with me, momma. There is a method to my seeming madness.
The fact is, parents homeschooling high schoolers often question if using a boxed homeschool curriculum is the best route to go. This question usually stems from the concern of having their soon-to-be graduate college-ready and with the necessary skills for entering adulthood.
I was not one of those homeschool moms.
At least not until about Ben’s junior year.
That was the year that I realized I was exhausted from trying to figure out what my son needed each year –was I giving him enough? . . . would he be able to not only get into college, but succeed at it? . . . was I missing something? So you see, I totally understand the roots to the boxed homeschool curriculum question and concern. Maybe you do, too? That’s why I’m going to explain both sides of that coin and help you decide if boxed homeschool curriculum might just be the best option for you and your family.
If Not a Boxed Homeschool Curriculum, Then What?
Some homeschooling parents will only go the boxed curriculum route (you’ll see why later). However, others have chosen different routes for the resources used to home educate their children. The most common method is the DIY approach, also known as creating your own homeschool curriculum plan. Truth be told, this was us. And there were some huge advantages to this method for our homeschool.
Advantages of Choosing Your Own Homeschool Curriculum by Subject
Many of us purchase curriculum from many different homeschool companies. This method of choosing homeschool curriculum works particularly well if you are most interested in customizing your child’s learning experience. It also offers the most flexibility when it comes to accommodating specific learning needs, interests, passions, and career or college goals. Perhaps you want to focus more on your child’s weak areas, while also exploring subjects that really catch their attention. With this DIY method, you can do just that.
Creating your own curriculum plan is also said to save money. Your investment relies heavily on what your child needs instead of purchasing resources they may never use. When you purchase a boxed homeschool curriculum, you may end up with some courses your student will never complete. But purchasing subject-by-subject, you may be more likely to only buy what you will use. This has worked well for us.
Disadvantages of the Do-It-Yourself Curriculum Method
As with anything in life, there are two sides to the coin – and the same is true when it comes to creating your own homeschool curriculum plan. In a nutshell, the disadvantages of going the DIY route are:
- Navigating and figuring out what to use. It can get overwhelming when trying to decide what resources to use with your high schooler, as they come with more needs than younger homeschoolers. There are state laws, college requirements, future career plans, and more to consider.
- In your figuring out how to make this work, comes time. It takes quite a bit of time to resource hunt and ensure you are gathering everything your student will need, and then figure out how to fit it all together in a daily/semester/yearly plan that will work well for your student’s transcript.
- Not being sure that you’re providing a well-rounded learning experience is stressful. As children move into their high school years, it is vital that concepts build on one another.
The disadvantages may not seem like much until you realize how using a boxed curriculum can fill those gaps.
3 Benefits of Using a Boxed Homeschool Curriculum in High School
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the high school years come with their own requirements, milestones, and learning experience. By this stage of development, there are also other things at play from working a part-time job to possibly starting the local community college for dual credit learning. These aspects alone are reasons to consider using a boxed homeschool curriculum. It’s just convenient to have everything planned out for you, plain and simple.
Purchasing a boxed curriculum is a time saver.
Although I highly recommend doing your research as you’re looking at the various options, you still save time as there are less resources to actually sift through. Most homeschool curriculum companies that sell boxed homeschool curriculum for each grade make it extremely easy and convenient to see what comes with their programs and resources. You get what is recommended and usually don’t need to make decisions between products. And they generally have curriculum specialists that are making sure what you get meets state and college requirements. Speaking of which…
Boxed curriculum takes the guesswork out of what to teach.
When the concepts and objectives are clearly defined, you don’t have to worry about what you’re getting or what to teach. Curriculum resource creators typically have the resources listed plainly by age/grade, subject, and/or program. While you can sometimes interchange (or make substitutions) in some boxed homeschool curricula, if you’re goal is simply for your high school student to learn everything he needs for a solid transcript, you most likely will be happy with just purchasing what comes in each yearly box. No guesswork required.
Boxed Curriculum is Easy to Supplement
In the event that your high achieving high school student would like to add a resource, it’s much easier when you are using a boxed curriculum. When you are a DIYer, this typically means you are trying to be creative with how to fit this extra stuff into the transcript. Does it fit a certain subject? Is there enough material for a full credit? What about a 1/2 credit? When you just add a little extra work to your boxed set, you aren’t left wondering what you need or what to use, or if your extra resource will meet the requirements for a particular subject. In fact, with the majority of your resources provided, you can easily accommodate your student’s enthusiasm with extra books, videos, documentaries, online courses, and so on without even considering the credit value. You can always give extra subject credit or an electives credit if these extra resources are significant enough. But you won’t need to worry with whether or not they substitute for something else.
3 Disadvantages of Using a Boxed Curriculum
With the good, comes the flip side. Isn’t that true about life in general? So you’re probably thinking, “hey, this all sounds great; what’s the catch?” Here you go . . .
Boxed curriculum can get expensive.
Although I believe purchasing a boxed curriculum can save money in the long run (especially if you are the kind of homeschool mom that buys things you end up never using), some can be pretty expensive. And with the plethora of sales, deals, and freebies out there, it may be easier on the budget to piece things together.
That said, there are many factors to take into consideration, such as:
- the amount of books or resources you’ll receive
- if the curriculum is for an entire year or semester
- how many children you are buying for
- if you have the ability to reuse the curriculum with other children as they get to high school
- whether or not the company you choose offers a payment plan
You may want to think of boxed homeschool curriculum as a long term investment into your family if you are homeschooling multiple children. Not that piecing things together can’t do the same, but if you are piecing together according to your oldest child’s passions, it’s likely you won’t be using that curriculum with your next one coming up. With a boxed curriculum, it’s much easier to use each set with subsequent children.
Some boxed curriculum is not easy to accommodate.
This is where the do-it-yourself method has one up on it’s boxed curriculum rival. Typically when you purchase a pre-made boxed resource set it will come with particular resources. It’s a one size fits all kind of thing. This can pose a problem if you need to accommodate specific learning needs, interests, or passions. We’ve kind of mentioned this already, but the delight-directed homeschool teacher in me didn’t want you to miss this point: if your student desires a customizable plan that targets his interests, passions, and or college and career goals, a boxed homeschool curriculum is not likely to accommodate that.
The structure of a boxed curriculum can sometimes be overwhelming.
Some parents purchase a boxed homeschool curriculum with the assumption that it will be easier, only to find the structure to be overwhelming. If you’ve been loosey goosey in the early years, your eyes may bug out when you see the lesson plans. In some cases the structure can be tweaked, but not by much or you’ll find yourself completely off track. My best advice? Stick to the schedule and if that’s not possible, adopt a “do the next lesson” approach and build in time for making up lessons if/when your student gets behind. And know that it may take a year for your student to get used to this tighter regimen. For this reason, I recommend starting this approach a little early, during grade 8.
A Boxed Homeschool Curriculum to Consider
There are many companies out there who are trustworthy and work wonders for homeschooling families. I’m grateful there are so many options because it means that there is likely something for everyone out there. I always encourage parents to take many things into consideration when looking for curriculum:
- Developmental needs
- Learning styles
If you are looking for a resource that has a strong biblical worldview, and is both comprehensive and well-organized, then I highly recommend looking into BJU Press Homeschool. Beyond their biblical worldview, they are also dedicated to offering academically sound lessons that are college-preparatory.
I also appreciate their stance on creating critical thinkers who use discernment while considering their worldview in everyday situations. Something that we strive for in our home and homeschool.
BJU Press Homeschool curriculum also accommodates a variety of learning styles. If textbooks only aren’t your student’s thing, then he may enjoy their distance learning or DVD options. These options are what sold Ben on this company. He has used the distance learning option for every course, except one that did not offer it, and it made all the difference in the world for him.
While not cheap, they are competitively priced, and offer the choice to purchase individual courses or multiple resources based on your student’s educational needs. Another huge perk is the ability to download samples to try before you buy. And you can adjust the grade level of individual courses, if need be.
If your state requires testing, assessment, transcripts and record keeping, you’ll find comfort in knowing that BJU Press Homeschool conveniently offers this as well.
Although, we did not take full advantage of BJU Press Homeschool’s full boxed curriculum option, we did select several courses for Ben’s junior and senior years. I wish I had looked at them when Ben was a little younger. I would never have been willing to give up our delight-directed, unit study method in the early years, but I believe Ben would have benefited greatly with a full BJU Press Homeschool course of study beginning around grade 8. And if you happen to be looking for this style of learning for your younger children, they offer full boxed curriculum for every grade.
Overall, BJU Press Homeschool is an option I highly recommend, and believe whole-heartedly will meet the needs of most high school homeschool students. If you use nothing else from this company, please take a look at their Biblical Worldview course. I truly believe every Christian homeschool needs this course as a foundation for their high school students. This is the first course we tried from BJUPress and the one that sold me on this company.