The Pros and Cons of Open and Go Homeschool Curriculum text overlay on a stack of books and a bookshelf
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Open and Go Homeschool Curriculum

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One of the best things for homeschooling parents who work from home may just be an open-and-go curriculum… or is it? When it comes down to it, one of the biggest concerns we have is figuring what to teach, and how.

To make your decision easier, I’d like to share several pros and cons to using an open and go homeschool curriculum as a working parent.

(One more thing -you’ll find a great big list of some new back to homeschool free resources for 2021 down at the bottom of this post!)

What is an open and go homeschool curriculum?

With so many methods, styles, and curriculum resources available on the market today, it’s important to understand exactly what an open and go homeschool curriculum is.

For starters, this kind of resource is equivalent to what’s called a “boxed curriculum.” And it’s easy for anyone to use – whether a seasoned or new homeschooler.

An open and go homeschool curriculum typically comes with everything you need for a specific subject, topic, or grade. It will include a teacher’s manual, student textbooks, workbooks, and whatever resources are usually needed to complete assignments. 

Now let’s dive into these pros and cons.

Pros & Cons of an Open and Go Homeschool Curriculum

Without being biased and singling out specific curriculum companies and resources, I’m going to stick with the general pros and cons of open-and-go homeschool curriculum.

You’ll find a non-exhaustive list at the end to give you an idea of a few places to look for this style of curriculum. However, it’s up to you to research them to assess how well they might suit your working and homeschooling situation.

Pro: Some open-and-go home school curriculum are free.

With a quick Google search, you can actually find some free open-and-go curriculum. Most of these are available online only so be prepared to do a lot of bookmarking and printing, which in the end can be seen as a con. However, you still come out on top by saving on a purchase expense altogether.

Con: Boxed homeschool programs can be expensive.

Some open-and-go curriculum can cost hundreds of dollars depending on how much you need. And if you live in Canada, as we do, currency conversion rates could mean you’ll pay $1,000 CAD or more for some open and go homeschool curriculum.

However, some companies offer the option to get a discount when you purchase your homeschool curriculum to use with your entire family. In this case, you’ll teach from a set of books or other resources, then students complete assignments based on their age or ability. You can reuse the textbooks in a few years with younger children by purchasing extra workbooks or worksheets.

Pro: Some open-and-go curriculum will involve the whole family.

For families homeschooling multiple kids with a wide age range, homeschooling everyone together is a huge timesaver. And this is a definite pro when you also run a home-based business or you’re building a work-at-home career.

However, keep in mind that not every subject lends itself well to students of different ages. Math comes to mind. Yet when you can combine the entire family for the majority of the subjects, that’s a win-win. Older children often jump in to help younger siblings. By acting as teachers they reinforce their own learning.

Several companies offer this approach with their boxed curriculum. when you’re working from home, this is something worth considering.

Con: Teachers manuals can seem intimidating (or overwhelming).

Although a teacher’s manual can work in a busy parent’s favor, sometimes it might seem intimidating or overwhelming to new homeschooling parents struggling to meet homeschool goals.

When you start homeschooling you may think that you have to use the manual verbatim. Yet the reality is you can make tweaks as needed.

For example, if you only homeschool four days a week, adjust the manual to work with that. Or you might find the manual includes too much work for your child to complete each day. In this, have your child complete what they can. Either skip the rest, summarize it, or save it for next week, term, or even next year.

(Tip: we homeschool year-round. This gives us the opportunity to “catch up” through the summer months.)

Pro: Boxed curriculum offers structure.

Confession time. I’m a recovering box-checker. I love checklists, to-do-lists, calendar lists, etc. And with everything that falls on my plate as a mom to many, a business owner, and an off the grid homesteader, I need the structure of the open and go homeschool curriculum. Luckily, my kids love the curriculum we use!

If you’re looking for something that will help create and maintain structure in your homeschool routine then a boxed curriculum may be something you need too. With everything provided for you, down to what to do each day, it is easy to get on track and stay there.

Con: Open-and-go doesn’t provide much flexibility.

Some parents feel as though this kind of curriculum isn’t very giving. Or that it’s not so easy to supplement. If you’d like resources that you can easily add to, take away, or swap out completely, an open-and-go may not be something you’d like. 

Curriculum Resource Companies that Offer Open-and-Go Resources

Here’s a brief list of some of the companies that offer boxed – or open-and-go – homeschool programs:

  • Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool
  • Heart of Dakota
  • My Father’s World
  • Sonlight
  • Apologia
  • Abeka
  • BookShark
  • Rod & Staff
  • BJU Press
  • Time 4 Learning

How to Start with an Open-and-Go Curriculum

Before diving into the world of boxed curriculum, I strongly suggest that you first and foremost consider your unique family dynamic. Think about how many kids you’re homeschooling, their ages, grade, development levels, and if there are any exceptionalities to accommodate. 

Also consider your work schedule. How much time will you dedicate to homeschooling? Will you have a third party involved in teaching your children? These are important things to think about so you don’t make an investment in something that won’t end up meeting your family’s needs.

Last but not least, always consider your budget. If you invest hundreds in a new full boxed homeschool curriculum and it isn’t a good fit, you might find yourself trying to buy new homeschool materials partway through the year. Instead, look for a second-hand open and go curriculum at a lower price..

Overall, an open-and-go curriculum seems ideal for most homeschooling parents who work from home; however, it could take some trial and error to find the one that works best for your family.

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