Despite popular belief, not every homeschool family is religious. Sure, the majority of homeschoolers is…
What Are the Top Benefits of Homeschool Curriculum Packages?
When you first start looking into homeschooling and searching for information, the search results most often provide links for all-in-one curriculum packages. Upon further searching, you will also discover that there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. From different methods, to different styles, and lots and lots of different companies offering products. For those just starting out, the option most homeschoolers choose is an all-in-one package.
What are the top benefits of homeschool curriculum packages? Well, the most obvious answer is the convenience. Everything you need for the entire school year is included in one big package, with no further research and searching required.
Many homeschoolers choose homeschool curriculum packages for convenience alone. There are many other benefits to choosing a homeschool curriculum package, however. And there are some drawbacks, as well. First, let’s explore the convenience factor a little more.
When you are shopping around for curriculum you will find there is an overwhelming amount of curriculum providers and publishers from which to choose. It’s enough to make you dizzy. This is the biggest convenience in choosing an all-in-one package. You pick one company, you pick the grade level, and you’re basically done. You get all you need in one package – every subject you will be required to cover for that grade level, and often a Bible course, depending on the provider.
They will also include extra materials, such as manipulatives for math, kits for science, and readers for literature. Often with other curriculum options, you buy the main text book, but then you are required to buy or check out supplemental materials in order to be able to use the curriculum and get the most out of it. With a complete package, you are also given the option to add on elective courses. You just saved yourself a ton of time, and a lot more sanity!
These curriculum packages are usually very easy to teach from. They are most often written to the student, so they don’t require a lot of teacher involvement. That means you don’t have to plan lessons. You don’t have to search for worksheets, supplements, or anything else. The student simply opens the book, reads the material and the instructions, and they can work on their own. For younger children who are pre-readers or still developing their reading skills guidance on your part is still required. But you are still saving yourself a lot of time.
I already mentioned the time savings you gain from using an all-in-one homeschool curriculum package. There is also an aspect of money savings. While these packages seem to be expensive up front, in the long run you can also save money. How?
When you put together your own curriculum you really don’t know how it will work until you get it in your hands and begin using it. It may look really nice and special on the website, or even at a homeschool convention. But until you actually begin to implement it you don’t know if it will actually work for you and your children. Maybe you don’t like the way it’s written. Maybe the directions are unclear. Or maybe it’s too easy or too hard and you need a different grade level.
So imagine you have purchased all of your curriculum for the year, and you have chosen items from several different publishers, or providers. If something doesn’t work you may be able to return it. To do that you have to deal with all the different return policies for all the different companies you purchased from. If you aren’t able to return it, then you are out that cost. Or perhaps you can sell the item used.
Then you have to set out to find something else to replace that item or subject. And the process begins all over. Now imagine multiplying that several times over for all of the different subjects you are using. If you have two or three different items that aren’t working, you have to go through that process for each one.
With a complete curriculum package, it’s all from the same publisher and provider. You only have to worry about returning it from one place. They might even have a different option to choose from, or grade, which would mean a simple exchange. Easy!
One more benefit to choosing a complete, all-in-one package involves the fact that it is from the same publisher. Whether you are homeschooling from a religious background or secular, it can be frustrating trying to find consistency among publishers.
For example, if you are homeschooling from a Christian perspective, you could find a product from one publisher that teaches from one perspective, and another product from a different publisher that uses a different perspective. This one uses KJV Scripture verses, the other one uses ESV Scriptures. One has a young-earth Creationist view, the other old-earth. One stresses the importance of character, the other focuses on critical thinking. One is rigorous, the other can be less demanding or challenging.
The same can be true if you are looking for secular materials. You may receive something you assumed was secular, only to find it has a religious focus or perspective.
Now you may be thinking, surely there has to be some cons to choosing an all-in-one package? And you are right.
One drawback that I’ve found that comes with choosing a complete curriculum package is that they are generally geared toward visual learners. That is, children who can read material and be able to comprehend it and complete the work. For children who are auditory or kinesthetic learners, these packages often do not fulfill their needs.
Another drawback is that many do not include a lot of opportunities for creativity. With many of these packages, the work is completed solely with textbooks and workbooks. At least one that comes to mind is done completely on the computer. For children who enjoy being creative it can be difficult to use this type of curriculum with no outlet for their creativity. You may find the need to supplement with other options, or outside sources. Or you could provide breaks in between subjects for art and creativity.
When I was first starting homeschooling cost was a major issue for me and a complete package was not possible. I had three children who were going to be homeschooling, so that would have meant purchasing three whole packages. I had to find solutions that I could use for all three children at once, and I had to buy used. It was very difficult trying to piece it all together, gather all the extra books and supplies we needed, and make it work. At the end of that year, I knew what we could continue to use, and what I had to change because either it didn’t work, or the level I had purchased for my children was wrong.
What I really wanted to do was buy a complete package that had everything laid out for me, ready to use, because I knew it would have been the easiest route for me to take. When I am speaking to someone who is just starting out with homeschooling and they are asking for advice, I usually steer them toward a complete, all-in-one package. Once you have been homeschooling for a little while and you have gained some insight into your children’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and learning styles, then it’s easier to venture into trying different options. There’s so much variety to choose from: computer and online, unit studies, literature-based, etc., etc., etc. And down the rabbit hole of curriculum shopping you go!