Troubleshooting: Eclectic Curriculum Custom Fit to the Child? Or Online School?



Hi Kendra! 

Thanks for the great advice and resources you offer on your encouraging blog.  It has been a huge help to me as I begin exploring this adventure that is homeschooling.
I have a question for you since I know you are a veteran homeschooler with kids at many different age levels.  I would love to know your opinion on enrolling in a home study "school" (is that the right term?) versus putting together your own curriculum.
My husband is a homeschool graduate and his mother enrolled him in a home study school.  She believes there is a lot more credibility to choosing to enroll children in a home study school versus using your own collection of curriculums.  I think there may be some truth to this but wonder if homeschool credibility will be a big issue by the time my now 4 year old would be ready to apply for college.
I would love to have a Classical type curriculum in which I could choose what resources would best suit our family/child especially in the younger years.  However, as our family grows (God willing) and gets older I might be attracted to the ease of using a box curriculum (especially in grading lots of papers).  Do you think it would be easy to make the switch from a parent chosen curriculum to a boxed school curriculum?
What do you think about the issue of credibility and accountability between these different approaches?  How has the way you have chosen curriculum for your children changed as they got older?  Thank you for your opinions and help!  Keep up the encouraging work!

Hi Elizabeth-

Thanks for writing, and I'll try my best to help.

I think that your mother-in-law had a valid point a decade or more ago, but now that's really not the case anymore. Most universities and all Christian universities are used to out-of-the-box homeschoolers, and many of them have a way to assess the preparedness of the home schooled student looking to apply to their school.

Our experience so far is limited, however, as we've only graduated one. He is earning his BA with no problems, and he's holding excellent jobs in his field of interest. He desires to go to film school after he finishes his BA, and he'll be applying after taking a year off to travel with an exchange program and earn money for grad school.

Our second son is looking at several colleges right now. He's worked as a lifeguard for a city pool for the past two summers, and he's been well-recieved by college recruiters of the (Christian) schools he's been interested in. Not only do they like homeschoolers, several offer scholarships solely appointed for homeschoolers. We've thought that our kids' non-academic involvement is important, too, so they have some good things to bring to the table, so to speak, when they are applying for colleges (sports, jobs, ministry involvement, music skills, etc.)

Our curriculum has changed as they've gotten older simply because they are all such different kids. Our oldest is very academic and self-motivated. He graduated a year early and began college work  before he was technically a senior in high school. He loves literature and writing, so his last year of high school was heavily concentrated on those things.

Our second-born is a different animal entirely :) We've been able to spend some time on math and science because he's showing an interest in pre-med (shockingly- he hated school until last year). We enrolled both him and our high school freshman in Classical Conversations this year, and it's been a fabulous fit.

And then our 4th child, a daughter, is a huge math head/science head. All this to say that they're so different and I love being able to give them a curriculum/education that prepares them in the strengths God has given them!


You might also be interested in listening to Freakonomic's recent program about a "Pandora-style" education in schools called School of One.


Troubleshooting: How Do You Handle Sticky Family Situations?


A few months ago on our Facebook page, Catherine asked:

How do you handle extended family reunions (like at Christmas!) where the activities aren't something you want your children to participate in? For example, what should I do about movies that are "age appropriate" but that don't contribute to the values I want in my children?

So far, my best idea is to bring good movies, etc. but this isn't totally working. I don't want to come across as rude or super-spiritual, but want to do right by my kids.

By the way, I assume that your extended famliy doesn't have this issue, but wonder if you, or your readers, have any general wisdom to share from similar experiences.

Have you been in this situation, too? As I began to think about how to answer Catherine, a friend who has handled this so well with her children came to mind. Cheryl and I have so much fun chatting that we decided to just talk it out together and let you all in on our fun!

The recording is about 25 minutes long, so grab a cuppa something good and put your feet up. We're moms just like you ;)


Troubleshooting: Dawdlers and the Distracted Student

Hi Kendra-

Getting frustrated with a situation and just looking for some suggestions. My oldest is 8 and has trouble getting her work done in any sort of timely fashion-she just gets distracted by every little thing. I am doing school with the younger two while she does independent stuff (we do her 'with mom' time first). She is not struggling with the content and she does not have a ton to do...and I am struggling because I feel like we can't go on about our day because we shouldn't be a total distraction...just wondering if you have any ideas or have dealt with this. Thanks if you have the time-it's going to be a long school year at this rate because I also feel like I need to keep reminding her to be on task...

Alicia B

Hi Alicia-

Ummm, did my 8-year-old move into your house?

Yep. That's my girl who needs the Gospel these days! So here's what I do:

"Anne, sit still. OK, back to your math. Anne, turn around. Turn. Eyes on your paper. Stop it. You have ten minutes to finish your page. Anne. Sit down. No, you can't go to the bathroom."


I have told her that she has until 5 p.m. to finish or she'll be doing it by herself in the school room. That has helped tremendously, but it has taken a lot of months to get her there. So… patience, long-suffering, the Gospel.


Troubleshooting: Homeschooling With a Classical Approach and Few Resources

Kristie asked:

My family and I are moving overseas in late summer. I would love advice on if it is possible to homeschool using a classical approach without a library of any sort and on a limited budget. This Fall will be our first offical year of homeschooling. Thanks!


The short answer is yes! Absolutely. The internet will be your biggest ally if you will have a connection where you are moving. Really, one could educate children at home using a classical approach and only have to pay for paper, printer ink, and basic school supplies. Let's get started! {affiliate links included}

General Classical Education Sites

Inside Classical Education

Circe Institute

Headventure Land

General Free Resources

Homeschool Launch

Ambleside Online (Charlotte Mason style, but so many crossovers into Classical ed and vice versa)

Mr. Donn's Free Unit Studies

Free Notebooking Pages

Practical Pages Free Notebooking

Worksheet Works

Activity TV

Haggin III.JPG
Haggin IV.JPG