This post was written in partnership with Notgrass History. All thought, ideas, and suggestions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links which means I can receive a nominal fee from the company for any product that you purchase through the links.
In our early years of homeschooling, I chose not to use any homeschool curriculum. I stuck with workbooks and resources from bookstores like Barnes and Noble and the local teacher store. Using a curriculum seemed like it would make our homeschool more like school, and I didn't want that. I was really rigid and adamant in those earlier years about keeping traditional school out of our home. Now that I've gotten some years under my belt, I can see and appreciate the value that curriculum can bring to our homeschool environment.
Curriculum serves as a guide.
Curriculum allows your resources to be resources.
When I used solely resource books and workbooks, I wasn't always sure if we were missing a key component so I had to spend more time researching. This often meant researching my least favorite subjects too. By using a curriculum for my weaker subjects like history, I am able to allow my resources to be just that resources. The resources aren't stuck with the job of teaching the whole story, but they can provide an additional viewpoint. Since Notgrass History sets the foundation, I don't have to stress out about if I am teaching perfectly because the legwork has been done for me. When we studied the Civil War using America the Beautiful, I was able to include other resources such as Black America from Johnson Publications and Heirloom Audio Productions, Lee in Virginia. These were additional resources that enhanced our learning and provided multiple viewpoints.
Curriculum helps pace your schedule.
I'm not a fan of allowing a schedule to dictate your life, but I will say that schedules can open up freedom in your homeschool. We have a loose schedule that we follow. We use a schedule because it keeps me from doing too much or too little with my daughters. Curriculum fits into the schedule because most programs like Notgrass' Uncle Sam and You have a specific number of lessons. Both Uncle Sam and You and America the Beautiful have 150 lessons. This means that you can complete the curriculum in 150 days. If you know how many days you will need to complete the course, you can pace yourself. When I created studies or used downloaded studies, the amount of time it would take wasn't always clear. Some activities could be completed in just a few days when the idea was for it to take six weeks. A solid program can help you have a clearer picture of the length of time it might take your child to complete a particular course.
I haven't always been a curriculum fan, but I find that the right curriculum can be a valuable asset to our homeschool. Curriculum allows me to free up time, it gives me a clearer path to achieving academic goals with my daughters, and reduces the amount of resources I need to get the job done.
What do you think about curriculum? Are you a DIY homeschooler or do you purchase curriculum for specific subjects?