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The Pros & Cons of Using a Curriculum in Homeschooling

written by: Leah Witmond • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/5/2012

Learn about home educating your children using the curriculum based approach. What are the main characteristics of this method, and what are the pros and cons?

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    The Curriculum Based Approach

    When we’re talking about the curriculum based approach to home education, the first question you’ll probably ask, is: “But isn’t that exactly the same as School at Home?”

    The similarities are immediately clear: There’s a lot of textbook learning and workbook exercises involved, and working with a curriculum is usually also highly structured. So, often, there’ll be a large overlap between the curriculum based approach and the School at Home Method.

    Often, but not always.

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    Characteristics

    The main characteristic of the curriculum based approach is of course that there’s a curriculum to follow.

    The homeschool parents buy a complete curriculum for all the subjects they want to teach their children – this can be either the same curriculum for all subjects or a different one for each subject – and base the education of their children on the curriculum of their choice.

    This can be done in a very schoolish way, but there’s no reason why the home educating parent should not use the chosen curriculum creatively. She can liven up the lessons by taking the children on a field trip, use hands-on activities to help them grasp concepts like e.g. time, money and measurements. That way, the chosen curriculum can become a wonderful source of inspiration to both the home educating parent and the children.

    Once the family has decided on working with a complete curriculum, there are many curricula available to choose from. To name just a few: Sonlight, A Beka, Oak Meadow, Time4Learning, K12, and Ambleside Online.

    Many of the currently available curricula are written from a Christian perspective or have at least a Christian flavor, which is fine when that is what you want, but it limits the choices for Secular homeschoolers and those of non-Christian religions quite a bit.

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    Pros and Cons

    Advantages of the Curriculum Based Method:

    • It's highly structured approach to learning gives new and uncertain home educators a solid framework to rely on.
    • The child’s progress is easily monitored.
    • No nagging questions about whether or not your child is learning the right things at the right time.
    • The parent doesn’t have to rely on her own preparations and resourcefulness; she can just follow the teacher’s manual.
    • Ideal for families who thrive on a highly structured routine.

    Disadvantages of the Curriculum Based Method:

    • It's highly structured approach may not fit your family’s lifestyle or needs.
    • The Curriculum Based method may be very time consuming, and put a high strain on the homeschooling parent because of all the paperwork involved.
    • Children may lose their natural enthusiasm for learning because the textbooks are not interesting enough and there are too many drills involved; resulting in stress for the whole family.
    • Buying a complete curriculum can be quite pricey.
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    Choosing a homeschool methodology that will work for your entire family is an important first step, and something that is best decided before you even start your journey in home education. Understanding the different homeschool methods and philosophies, then choosing one exclusively, or mixing and matching different programs to suit your needs, will ensure you are adapting home education to your child's learning style, as well as choosing a method that integrates well into your family structure.