A Few Things I’ll Never Get

Homeschooling is a culture, with its own little eccentricities and things that everyone seems to know about or do.  When I first got into the homeschool world, I found that there were a lot of books, curricula, games, and other resources that were new to me, many of which are excellent.  But there are some homeschooling things that I just do not get.

1. Lapbooking
I guess they’re kind of cute, if you’re into cutting and pasting?  It’s not like I think there’s anything wrong with lapbooking, but when I made my first forays into the homeschool world, I felt like if I saw another link to a “free lapbook” I would scream.  I don’t get the mass appeal.

2. Homeschool Tracker
I did not start homeschooling in order to do data entry.  I have no idea what people even use this for.  For some of these things, I’m being a little tongue in cheek.  I understand the basic premise, it just doesn’t resonate with me.  But this is a case where I genuinely do not know what the purpose of this is.

3. Planners
Okay, I do sort of get this, but I can’t imagine using one.  I plan what I need to plan, but I do not need a book where I write which pages of Explode the Code we’re going to do two months from now, or even a week from now or ever.  When they’re done, they’re done.  So much easier.

4. Life of Fred
I like the concept, but the story is all over the place and just plain weird.  Plus, the graphic design is abysmal!  I wanted to like it so much and I kept flirting with the idea of buying it because the idea of a storybook based math curriculum is nice, but I just do not get this one at all and the massive popularity baffles me.

5. Curricula with DVD’s
I’m sure it’s very useful to have a DVD that tells you how to teach, but I know that for me, there’s just no way I would ever watch it in a million years.

6. McGuffy Readers
Some vintage resources are neat, I guess?  But I think my children would hate reading if this was their reading curriculum.  Then again, “reading curricula” could have been one of the the things on this list that I don’t get.

7. Latin
It’s a dead language.  I mean, I get that it’s useful as a vocabulary and grammar jumping off point, but so are French and Spanish, which are both actually spoken by millions of people.  And I don’t expect my children will become classics professors, so I’m not sure what the point is.

8. 4-H
For non-farm people anyway.  When I first started reading online homeschool groups, I was really floored by how many people apparently do 4-H.  I’m sure it’s fun and all, but I don’t get it.

9. Preschool Curricula
I get preschool resources, but full-on preschool curricula with lesson plans and so forth I do not get at all.  I thought I was overeager to start when my kids were young, but at age three we were not doing anything that could remotely be called “curricula.”

10. Thornton Burgess
I like some vintage books, but some of them not so much.  Case in point.

11. Kilts
They do make me chuckle now though.

12. Khan Academy
I don’t dislike it or anything and it’s a neat resource I guess.  I could imagine using bits of it in some ways maybe at some point.  But as that’s a far cry from the adoration most people feel, I’m pretty sure I don’t get it.

16 thoughts on “A Few Things I’ll Never Get

  1. For the most part I completely agree with you list! I always feel like I must be missing something essential on the Khan website. I really don’t get that. And I agree with the other commented about Fred. After having my daughter cry and balk at the mention of math Fred has been a life saver that allowed her to get over the “math” bit long enough to actually start feeling comfortable with math. I don’t really get in terms of myself, but for her I do.

  2. *Lapbooks are an easy and creative way to show your child’s work, not my preferred method. However, HSLDA will usually recommend that you keep some type of work showing what your child has learned should the need arise. This is just a more fun way to do it than filing.
    *The homeschool tracker and planners are for those who have to not only worry about lining up with what is required of them in their state, but also to ensure that their children on “on track” for college. While college isn’t for everyone, I heartily agree, it is for some and these tools make their job easier.
    *DVD’s are for parents who feel inept at teaching a subject their child is ready for (or they are too lazy to teach it themselves). I personally don’t know that I feel comfortable with teaching Calculus, but I know I am not going to be able to afford a tutor; so the DVD’s might be an option.
    *McGuffy readers AREN’T for reading to yourself, they are for oral reading practice; which frankly too many children don’t do. Whether or not you like them isn’t the issue, the issue is finding material that your children can read aloud for practice. The McGuffy also have the added benefit of being a Christian centered curriculum, that also throws in history and poetry (more areas covered in less time).
    *Spanish and French are not as influential as Latin. You will find that more languages derive from Latin and will aid your children in their higher education years. Especially since you don’t know what field the Lord will take them in. Should they decide to be doctors or lawyers, Latin is a must!!
    *4-H would come in handy in the higher grades for hands on Science courses, such as Bio, whether or not you farm.
    *As for preschool curricula, I started all my kiddos as three years old. I didn’t pressure them and I didn’t buy a “set” to start them on, but we did do workbooks and reading lessons. The earlier they started, they earlier they got to enjoy the fun of learning. I have never regretted my decision, nor have they. Again, it wasn’t a matter of pressure and they had plenty of time to play and create, but getting them familiar with reading, writing, and patience while doing seatwork were great skills for them to learn.
    *Vintage Books are more of a love in and of themselves. They don’t necessarily pertain to homeschooling. Usually the people who use them for homeschooling aren’t doing it because of homeschooling, but rather because they are bibliophiles. My family are all addicted to books! We can’t pass a used bookstore without stopping and if the binding is beautiful and the cover is too good to pass up; more the better.
    *The rest, while I personally don’t use them; I see their purposes.

  3. Kilts make me chuckle even more now than they used to, but they’ve always been amusing to me. I do use a couple of curricula with DVDs but only because that’s what works for my kids (and to each their own, of course). As for the rest, I agree 100%.

  4. LOL. I’m with you on all of those except 4-H. Since I run a Cloverbud club that has nothing to do with farming, I can’t agree with that one. 😉

  5. I agree with you about lap books. They look like messy, time-wasters to me. Homeschool Tracker could be good for families who are in heavy reporting states. It could also be good for a mother homeschooling lots of children. If I were schooling 6 kids and not 1 right now, I’d bet I’d need a more streamlined and detailed system to keep things straight for each child. I am not in a state that requires detailed record keeping and I use Macs so I’ve never bothered.

    3. I like planners to help with pacing. I like planners so I can look at a glance at what needs to be accomplished. I like planners because I have three little kids and a husband who travels a lot for work and if I don’t have our life written down somewhere some things will get missed, not just school things, but general life things as well. Some people need a grocery list and others don’t. I see a school planner as a similar thing.

    5. I used Phonics Road and it uses DVD instruction for the teacher. I have a dyslexic daughter and I needed the hand holding when teaching reading with a program that used a method I was unfamiliar with. I also remember that you have a background in teaching/education which probably gives you additional confidence that some of us do not start homeschooling with hence the reliance on DVD instruction for some subjects.

    6. McGuffey Readers are excellent for tracking reading level. This may not apply to your children. It does apply to mine. We aren’t in a race but it helps me pinpoint how much she is struggling and if I need to slow down or speed up or whatnot. The lessons are short and concise and take very little time. We read widely, I can’t imagine using the readers as our sole “reading curriculum”. I simply find them more helpful to me as a teacher than using the randomly assigned numbers on children’s first readers that have flooded the market.

    7. We are a Catholic family and knowing some ecclesiastical Latin helps with prayers and parts of the Mass. Your mileage obviously varies.

  6. I actually LOL’d at #1 because every time I look at lapbooks I just don’t get it, seems like a lot of busy work to me. I’m with Dorothy re: the 4-H though. I remember my childhood 4-H group with great fondness and we were most definitely not farmers. I was recently looking at one group in our area that specializes in robotics!

  7. I think I understand lapbooks in the sense of making something you can refer back to later as a review. That said, we haven’t made one. 🙂 Though sometimes we make little books about countries we have studied and use some lapbook printables.

    I really dislike Life of Fred. For some reason the tone of the books really rubs me the wrong way! I know so many people love it, though.

    I love my planner, though! I don’t put what page number we are on or anything, but I like knowing what topics in science/social studies we are on that week and what books I want to get from the library and so on.

    I don’t get coloring pages. How is that worth anyone’s time? Maybe if my kids liked coloring it would be for fun. But I’d rather they draw than color.

  8. I’m with you 100% on 1-5 and 7!

    What is 4-H or mcguffy readers…as you can see, I have no idea what they are. Kilts? Really!

    My kids went to preschool, so I have no opinion about pre-k curricula.

    We actually like thornton burgess (the bird book) and kahn academy. (like, not love).

  9. Oh, there is so much about homeschooling I just don’t get. (And I’ve been doing this a long time.)

    It’s amazing how much I learned about you in just this one post though! (You aren’t “visual”; thus, lapbooking (visual outlines), planners (paper or digital), and DVDs / Khan are totally “blah” to you.) I’d be curious to discover if either of your kids are visual learners. . .

    1. That’s really interesting. Huh. I do like visual things sometimes though. We love picture books still and we use a lot of videos for science and history. And I like timelines… When I do plan something, such as for co-op, I make what I think of as a much more visual plan than you could do on a planner. I have to think about that though… thanks.

  10. Kilts? I know about tea, but I’ve missed any discussions of kilts.

    DVDs are just a way for curriculum makers to milk us for more money by playing off our insecurities as teachers.

    My daughter actually wants her 4-H club to do MORE farm stuff. Farmer is her current career of choice.

    I couldn’t bring myself to read the Burgess bird book to my kids even when they were little. My husband read the other animal stories to them and they liked them.

    Khan Academy is probably better for older kids and adults. I haven’t found much use for it for my kids yet (but my husband and I watch the videos for fun).

  11. I’m with you on lapbooks. I tried it once (yeah, I know) and at least right now, it’s a waste. I spent a ton of time putting it together and the kids were just “eh” about it.

  12. I agree with you on almost everything but Latin. (I haven’t seen the Thornton Burgess book and don’t have an opinion on that, and we might get involved in 4-H but for chicken-raising, so sort of farm stuff, I guess.) But I studied Latin for 6 years in high school (UK), and loved it! It’s like a logic puzzle, and it helps with grammar and vocabulary much more than modern languages — I have also studied French (9yrs), German (7yrs), Spanish (1yr) and Russian (2yrs) — and I really believe it makes the study of other languages much easier.

    But lapbooks? Yeah. We tried it once, when we were still exploring how we wanted to homeschool. I expected some sort of magic to happen, but um, no. Waste of time. I feel the same way about the Evan-Moor History/Literature/whatever Pockets. Cutting and pasting and coloring in, subject matter practically irrelevant.

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