Topic | CM Boxed curriculum?

This topic contains 16 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Kristen 5 years, 11 months ago.

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  • 4myboys

    Ok _- Here’s the deal.  Anyone using a CM style “boxed curriculum”?  I’m only six months into HSing, but I am finding it a challenge — largely because I am working part-time (mornings), so not getting my boys working at their most optimum time. So much of life happens in the afternoons — dentist appointments, having to pick up dh at work, etc.  that I’m finding that I am “flying by the seat of my pants” half the time instead of following a well thought out plan and feel like I’m missing important stuff left right and center.  Math has been our only really consistant subject, and it is one area where my older son struggles to a degree and my younger excels (if we stay on track they will both be working in the same grade 3 Math Mammoth book in about 7 weeks — my 7 seven year old just starting and 11 year old just finishing.  I’m a little concerned about this, but I can’t hold my 7 year old back, nor can I rush my older son who has been doing more of a review this year — the topics covered in the grade 3 book are the same as what he covered in grade 4 at PS, but he’s comprehending much better. )  My older son is capable of doing more independantly than my younger son to a VERY large degree, but I really haven’t been setting him much more to this point — we’ve been “de-schooling” to this point to a degree.  He’s not ready for written narration and I have not been doing spelling with him. (Spelling is another area where my younger son is much more advanced — he reads at a highschool level and spells at a grade 5 or 6 level at least — because older struggles with disgraphia.) Now it’s time to kick things up a bit, but I don’t really know where to start. 

    I’ve been thinking that a boxed curriculum might be helpful in terms of giving me a solid plan and eliminating a lot of time spent seaching for resources, etc. on my own.  Most of what I bought or borrowed for this year has not turned out to be a great fit, either for them or for me, or both.  They are getting bored, and so am I to a large degree.  When people ask if they like hsing, they usually say no — however, they always said that they didn’t like PS either.


    I don’t think that a boxed curriculum (or even a very planned out one) is likely to work out well for you – I did AO and something similar to AO, and it just got me upset and agitated about how behind we were.

    I think in your situation, you need to look for ways to help your children become independant.  There is a site that has information on independant learning that might have ideas that might help… I don’t have time to find the link right this moment…  some of her ideas don’t work as well with CM without thoughts on how to do it – but most ideas could work fine.

    What have you been using so far?  I’ve like the SCM items so far…  we just started the history module 2.  If you want a more setup plan, I’d get a SCM history module, probably their science, and otherwise pick stuff from the curriculum guide.

    I have a couple of courses we listen to (our Foreign Language, for example) that we can do in the car on the way to an appointment – and last year we did modified Workboxes – in a portable filebox.  There was times when I had something unexpected, and we grabbed the filebox and did it in the car or a waiting room.  (Car repairs, laundromat, etc.)  Workboxes can help a child be more independant too, for that matter.  

    hope those ideas help a bit…


    I second that. The boxed curriculum usually makes you feel even more behind. Our home is pretty busy too. I have learned to school on the go…anytime, anywhere. I pick resources that are flexible. I also plan to spend longer than the suggested time on the books I get. I try to plan, long term, according to the slower school pace our home seems to travel.


    Do you use this website’s curriculum guide?  I was just wondering if those are the books you had bought/borrowed that they didn’t like?  I like a nice scheduled idea, and so was drawn to some CM boxed curriculums, but I listened to other moms, and read reviews, and they all seemed to say the same thing, they felt so behind with all the things they had to do.  (Not to mention how expensive they are!)  They also felt bound to read/do all the things that came with it since they bought it.  I like not being tied down to the curriculum here, I use the Module guides and we follow them almost exactly, except when I either can’t get a book from the library, or when we don’t like a suggested book.  But it’s scheduled already for me, and I just have to get the books.  As for their independent work, mine have their own tote with their school things in it, and they have a checklist in it as well for each day.  I try to set aside a little time each weekend to make sure their totes are ready for the week.  Then I plan in between each of the three terms.  I do read-alouds during meal times (I eat before them) so we get a lot done during that time.  Hope that helps


    Ok — I guess I see what you mean, but at the same time, I just seem to be having a hard time pulling it all together.  It would be nice to have everything laid out for me — like a recipe book would be nice.  I just feel like I’m really not accomplishing much. 

    @suzukimom, work boxes sound intriguing, but like a lot of work initially. How do you make them work for you — especially with a CM style homeschool? My boys come to the office with me and although they try to work independantly on math, reading, etc, it’s not always that easy to stay on top of them while I do my own work.  Without going to work books, how can I get them to be more independant?  My 11 year old is not yet doing written composition work,  and my 7 year old has a VERY hard time staying focused on a task.  His best time is between 8 and 9am — which is when we are trying to get ready for going to the office.  We can often get some math or copy work done in the morning before we leave, but not always.  I know it is time for him to do more independant work, just not sure how to get him started. 




    The SCM guides do look intriguing, but I haven’t started them yet.  I have been considering using the Mod 1 next year, but have been put off by the fact that the spine is so hard to come by.  I have been using some of the recommendations here, but I’m finding it difficult to get in all the subjects I had hoped for — partly due to lack of time, and partly due to lack of funds or resources.  We aren’t getting outside much with our weather being so cold, and we only get to town once a week for groceries and errands including a trip to the library.  That’s usaually a very short trip in and out if we are with my husband — I try to reserve my books ahead of time so that I can just run in and pick them up.  I guess I feel a need for more depth and better accountability for meeting the expectations I am setting up. 

    There are times in the last couple weeks that I can almost wish I hadn’t started hsing — though I can really see how they have both benefitted already.  I am on good terms with the school (in fact the woman who would have been our younger son’s teacher and the resource teacher are both in our small group book study — our women’s groups are doing The Resolution for Women).  They and the principal have offered me any resources I might like — math manipulatives, etc., but I haven’t really taken them up on it — maybe I should think about that more seriously?  I have been really hesitant about that.  It seems to be inviting a conversation I’m not sure I want to have, especially at times when I start having doubts.

    I knew this was going to be hard, and I know I can be doing a much better job, but I’m just having trouble getting things turned around and on the right track. 



    blue j

    4myboys, don’t be put off by the trouble picking up Oxford.  You can sub a different spine for it – try one of the Story of the World or Child’s History of the World.  Either of those would work as well. I believe there is a post on here somewhere in which someone lays out a side-by-side of the table of contents of Oxford and one of the two I’ve listed.  Either that or I’m remembering a post from another spot.  Either way, just know it can be done.

    Second, if you and your kiddos are transitioning from PS to hs’ing, give yourself a break.  You are all learning how to balance this out in your life.  It takes time, but it will come.  It’s just like when you sent your oldest to school for the first time – there was an adjustment period with that as well. 

    Third, I think that SCM’s guides would be very helpful for you.  There are things that you can do together in the afternoon when you are not working, and in the morning, the boys can do their independent work – perhaps utilizing the work box method Suzukimom mentions.  Don’t be afraid to change things up until you get a groove that works for you and your boys.




    Thanks, Jacqleene.  I appreciate that a lot.  Sometimes it’s nice to be given permission to just not have it all figured out yet.  I am encouraged by the fact that they are both making good strides in their math, and they both read well.  I don’t feel horrible that they are perhaps “behind” in Social Studies, Science or history.  I don’t know any other 7 year old who can name and locate on a map all the provinces and territories of Canada, as well as all the Great Lakes etc.  I am concerned about retention in somethings, but in others I feel like, oh well, they’ll catch it all again in a year or two.  Right now I think I am really discovering how they learn — for example, older ds gets extremely overwhelmed if there are too many questions on a page.  He was regularly getting incorrect answers in multi-digit subtraction – especially with regrouping.  After identifying his mistakes as an inability to focus on a single question (he would switch operations half way through, or subtract the smaller number on the top from the larger on the bottom rather than regroup), combined with his disgraphia, I began transfering questions one at a time to graph paper with extra large squares giving him plenty of space to work out the problem without the distractions of other problems.  Eventually we worked our way up to three problems on a page, and then six by covering half the sheet with blank paper or folding it in half.  He aced his last math test and it is hanging on the fridge!

    I will see if either of the other books you mentioned are available at our library, or are reasonably priced elsewhere.  If Mod 1 would work out well for us, that would be two subjects covered, right?  Bible and history.  Is Story of the World the one available on CD?  It would be nice to have one subject I didn’t have to read — I seem to do a lot of reading.  I follow what our Kidz Church program is doing for character study — this month it’s honour, last month was self-control.  Great free resources and it’s nice that the same virtue/stories are covered at church and home with both of our children even though they are 3 grades apart.  I use their memory verses as well.  We have a big kick-off night at the church the first Saturday of the month to intro the virtue of the month, so it works out soo well for me! 

    That would leave me with science.  Anyone got a good audio or DVD curriculum?  Something 15mins or less in length.  Ds 7 loves checking out Bill Nye, but we are really struggling with Considering God’s Creation — mostly because niether of them is the colour, cut and paste type I’ve discovered.  I’m going to start weather with them in about 2 weeks, but we haven’t been doing science lately really.  I plan to keep a weather chart and maybe teach ds 11 to make a power point about tornados or hurricanes, etc. Haven’t exactly figured that one out yet, but I think he might enjoy working on something like that, especially when he’s already covered weather in PS.

    Also, any suggestions on an inexpensive audio French course?  We have a 15min drive to and from the office, so there’s a half hour of “captive audience” –it’s a good time to take advantage. 




    Ok, we are back from violin lessons.

    Disclaimer – my kids are NOT independent learners by any means at this point!  That said, here are the resources…


    Here is the website with the method for teaching your children to be independent learners.  This is supposed to work well with any method, but I do think that CM is a bit of a challenge, but could still be done for subjects that you aren’t doing together as a family.  You would need to get the kids doing things like taping their narrations (or drawing picture narrations – something they don’t need you right there to narrate to.)  The author of this site wrote an article for “Home School Enrichment Magazine” – I was able to get a free article from the magazine by asking her… that was quite a while ago…  A lot of this is setting goals with the children… and the rule is that they have to work on every subject everyday, but they get to decide how much on each subject (to try to reach their goals) – there is more to it of course, but that is the basics.  

    Now – workboxes….

    Our first year of homeschooling, we started with a system that wasn’t quite exactly workboxes (the exact system is VERY specific on how to do things) but quite similar…. partway through we lost the use of our schoolroom – so I changed to a filebox system with work-folders.  We used it the rest of that year, and most of our 2nd year.  This year, because pretty much all our subjects are family based – I just print our daily to-do from the SCM Organizer, and we just pick topics as we wish (with me trying to make sure there is a good mix…)…  But I think the fileboxes could work for you, because they are portable.   I’d get a fairly small portable filebox for each child with a handle.  There are some with a storage area in the lids that can hold pencils and a ruler etc… if you can, get that (or keep a pencil case in the box.)  You also need hanging file folders… the workbox method recommends having 12 boxes (or files).  I also put a grid with velcro on the outside – this was used sometimes, but not often…. it allows you to put in things to do other than subjects.

    The rules (and it would take a bit of training), is that they are to start at file 1, do that, then move to file 2, etc.  The grid on the outside would allow a visual for you and them on how far along they are.  As much as possible, everything needed for them to do that activity/work would be in there.  I’d also have a timer somewhere there for a few subjects…  A key thing is a few of the boxes/folders should have something more fun in it.  that is easier with boxes, but is still possible in fileboxes.    oh, btw – we used little “yellow stickie” flags a lot – one colour for “start here”, and another colour for “stop here”.    There are markers for “do with mom”… obviously you would want all those subjects at the end, to be done in the afternoon….


    So – off the top of my head, here is a day’s work for one child (with a few things on the “grid”)

    1) child pulls out the folder and finds…. Math – might depend a bit on your curriculum… the book in there with the lesson marked with the flags.  Or their worksheet.  Or their lesson DVD and worksheet.  Manipulatives needed for the lesson would be placed in a workbox – in a filebox they might be in a pencil box at the back of the filebox, or somewhere else….     

    2) child pulls out the folder and finds…. fun box – there is a paper puzzle for the child to put together

    3) child pulls out the folder and finds…. History – the book “Growing up in Ancient Greece” is in there with pages 6-9 marked with flags

    4) child pulls out the folder and finds…. Art – book “Draw Write Now” (any of them), along with paper, and instructions to pick something from the book and draw it.

    at this point on the grid, there is a card that says do 20 jumping jacks

    5) child pulls out the folder and finds…. Science – Burgess Bird Book with a chapter marked with flags. Coloring pages of the birds discussed. Indicator to go to the computer to the link provided and listen to the bird calls.

    6) child pulls out the folder and finds…. fun box – there is a snack bar in there and a juice box.

    7) child pulls out the folder and finds…. copywork.  There is a page with a quote, and paper

    at this point on the grid, there is a card that says to do 5 pushups

    8) child pulls out the folder and finds…. literature.  the book “Just David” with start and end points marked off.  Small voice recorder with instructions to tell back what happens (or you ask what is happining in the book later…)

    9) child pulls out the folder and finds…. spelling. – the passage to be studied for another day.

    2) child pulls out the folder and finds…. fun box – instructions to make a paper airplane, a couple of sheets of paper 

    Work with Mom card is hit… (subjects done in the afternoon…)

    11) History – Reading from “Famous Men of Greece” – done with you and narrated

    12) Picture Study – Picture from the portfolio of the Artist you are doing

    Doing something like this will take some training… I assume you have to currently sometimes get them back on track… there would be some of that too.  The main thing would be deciding on the consequences for not getting the work done (and some good consequences for getting it done?)…..

    hope that helped some!



    btw – my filebox example might be a bit intimidating.  We don’t generally do 12 things… lol


    I also agree with the SCM modules for History/Bible.  We just started them the other week (we started with Module 2)… and I am really feeling a lot less pressure from what we used to do – and it is really nicely laid out.  You can see an example of each module on the site.


    Thanks, Suzukimom!  I can really see where this might work for us — it would take a lot of prep for me up front, but maintainable in a couple of hours a week.  I like that it is portable, so they could take it to the office with them and stay on track, or if it’s a morning that their dad is off they can work on it at home without him feeling like he has to teach it.  I will check out the links tomorrow — I’m just too tired tonight.  I can’t quite picture what you mean by the grid thing, but maybe there’s a picture on one of the links???

    I am considering stepping back a bit this term and focusing on habits more strongly while I get myself “sorted out” March is going to be mostly a write-off between company coming here at the beginning of the month and vacations at the end.  I will have trouble keeping them focused during the middle of the month with the PS kids (all thier friends) on March break.  It might be a good time for me to regroup and get things lined up for the final term.

    Thanks again! 


    It doesn’t hurt to scale back a bit while you figure out a new direction.  I’ve done it, and I’m sure we have all done it at times.  


    With the Independant learning and the workboxes – they take very different approaches to work towards independance.  I’ve only really tried the Workboxes, so I discussed it more.  However, I suspect the other method – with the setting goals, on the long term is less work for you as the mom, and more beneficial for making the students self-motivated.


    The URtheMom site suggestion is a good one. But, I think the key having independent leathers is independent reading skills. If those aren’t in place for your older child, everyone else will continue to get bogged down. The URtheMom author is very familiar with the Robinson Curriculum which is focussed on self teaching after reading skills have been established and all four types of math facts have been memorized. Reading instruction can take place in the afternoon or with audio/DVD/software programs set up workbox style if your office situation will allow it. Math facts can be set up workbox style if reading is a problem for math text/workbook pages to be included in the box/file.

    Utilize drive time! Story of the world is on audio CDs. It is available at our library. It’s not necessarily my favorite, but in your situation, you could all listen and narrate in the car and check history off for a while during this time of finding solutions. Use the free SCM curriculum guide to choose books that would ideally be family read alouds and check them out as audio books instead. The library is a huge answer to prayer IF you utilize it well. It takes a bit of weekly/monthly planning. But, it can save you lots of $! The books, etc. are purchased with tax dollars, so they belong to you anyway! I request interlibrary loans quite often. And, when there is a resource that I know our family and other homeschoolers (or anyone else) would be well used/loved, I request it’s purchase be made to add to the collection. Sometimes they actually add it! And, I get a note when this happens and have first option in checking it out! ;0)

    Don’t be afraid to do the bare minimum at this point. The three Rs, when fully established, make light work later down the road. It is much more important for these to be your main focus than the extras of history, science, art, etc. Reading, writing (spelling/grammar), and math skills are what make the other subjects doable. So, I’d suggest establishing a routine with those first. Then add the others into the mix.



    Hoping my iPhone spelling isn’t horrible this morning.


    I didn’t read all of these, but wanted to let you know that Heart of Dakota’s curriculum is user friendly and CM inspired.  

    Michele Barmore

    I just want to second everything Becca has said.

    And to encourage you — during these hard times, where you are transitioning.

    Keep it simple.

    As long as they are reading good books, doing a little copywork, and a little page of math- or some flashcards.

    Breathe. They will be fine.

    We all go through difficult times at one point or another– pregnancys, deaths, ect.

    I just focus on the 3Rs during these times— and everything works out.

    Of course– Pray together— Sometimes, we use travel time to listen to the Bible on CD — or listen to Hyms in the van.

    It makes for a more peaceful trip.

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