Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Homeschool When the Box Curriculum Fails!

I remember the day that I received the very first box. I was so excited to get started. I opened the big, beautiful box filled with everything I was going to need to teach my 2 younger boys. I had bought new folders to organize the worksheets and activity guides. I could not wait! I had this pretty little picture of how my children were going to love learning. I imagined them begging to do one more page or read one more story. I got everything prepared and went to bed the night before with very high expectations of how the 1st day would be.

The next day, it took 2 seconds for reality to sink in. Screaming, crying, meltdowns followed! The worksheets were too hard. They didn't like that story they wanted to read this story! I ended that day and several weeks after in tears. I was beyond discouraged. I set it all aside and began to wonder if I was really cut out for this homeschooling thing.

For several years after that epic fail, I tried a few other 'box curriculum' all ending the very same way! I did not understand what I was doing wrong.

I was given a book by a friend written by Sarah Janisse Brown titled "Life, Love, & Dyslexia." She talked about instilling a love of learning in our children. She reminded me that natural learning is fueled through children's natural curiosity! I remembered all at once why I began homeschooling in the first place! I wanted my children to love life. I wanted to fuel their curiosity and allow them to follow thoughts and subjects down the path, however far they chose to go!

I shifted gears! I got Popper a journal from The Thinking Tree. I allowed him to pick what he was most interested in to learn about. He was able to pick books from the library that interested him. He chose books on Egypt, Space, and origami.  None of these topics were remotely close to what I would ever try to teach my 2nd grader.

After a few months of allowing him to explore, I began to add in a few other core subjects that I knew he needed to have as well, like math and a writing program. This has been the best decision I have ever made in regards to my children's education. Popper loves getting to choose what he learns about each week. Some weeks, he chooses books that are on these same 3 topics. Sometimes, he adds something new to try. I love watching the excitement he now has for learning! 
Now that he has freedom to choose, the math and writing aren't near the struggle they use to be. He is getting a genuine love for learning!

That's how we are homeschooling since the boxed curriculum failed!

How Do I Homeschool When ... ?


  1. Love this! My daughter is only 1, so we haven't started the homeschooling journey yet. I am a former elementary school teacher and I know that I do not want to follow a boxed curriculum or at least not follow one 100%.

  2. I've been looking at this Thinking Tree Journal wondering if it would work well for my boys.

    1. They are amazing! I cannot say enough good things about them or about the creator, Sarah! They have literally changed the way that we do school! My kids love school now!

  3. We have never tried a box curriculum because I am afraid of exactly what you mention. My gut tells me it is just not right for our family and we love having the flexibility to pick what is interesting. I would never have had my 9 year old focus on Joseph Stalin and dig deeply into World War II but it is of interest to her and she LOVES it! The Thinking Tree journals look so neat. We just got our first a week or so ago and I really like the way it looks. - Lori