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The Benefits of a Boxed Curriculum

Homeschooling is full of choices, you choose why you homeschool, you choose how you are going to homeschool, choose a schedule, and then you choose a curriculum. The curriculum choice is one that many second guess themselves on. It is such a HUGE choice to make.

We have looked at curriculum choices here before, but today I want to take a look at boxed curriculums. In some homeschooling circles, boxed curriculum gets a bad rap, in other circles people love it, and that’s how it goes. Most LOVE it or HATE it.

I have been on both sides of the fence, and after taking 2 years off, am back to a boxed curriculum. I have found there are many benefits of a boxed curriculum, and you may too!

In homeschooling circles many will love or hate a boxed curriculum. However, there are many benefits of a boxed curriculum.

Ease of Use

Boxed curriculums are literally open and go. There is little to no prep work required by mom. Some planning may be needed depending on which option you choose. However, most boxed curriculums include teachers guides’ with lessons planned out for you. They also include all five subjects and in some cases even your electives.

Choices are made for you

Not sure what math to use? Boxed curriculums tend to come with a math. Does grammar have you down? Don’t worry! Boxed curriculums can choose that for you as well. If you are on the fence and overwhelmed at all the choices out there, a boxed curriculum can help make the decision for you. So, you don’t have to!

Still Flexible

Many boxed curriculums are still flexible, so while they may recommend a certain math or grammar, you can easily substitute your own. This means that if you choose a boxed curriculum and a particular subject doesn’t fit your child, you can swap it out for something else. You aren’t necessarily “tied” to the box.

Teaches to multi ages

Boxed curriculums tend to teach to multi-ages. Some may span all the ages of your children, some may allow you to combine one or two of your children. Regardless, most boxed curricula DOES allow you to teach to multi-ages. This makes it easier for mom because all children can be taught together regardless of their ages.

One supplier

When you use a boxed curriculum you get your entire curriculum in one spot. This means one purchase, one “box day” and less stress as to whether or not you have ordered everything you need. With a boxed curriculum gone are the days of shopping multiple curriculum suppliers and scanning retailers for sales and discounts. One purchase. One curriculum company. Your shopping is done!

Boxed curriculums can be a huge benefit to new homeschoolers. The ease of it being open and go and having everything in one place makes it super easy for a new homeschooler who is overwhelmed. As a work at home mom, I have also found it to ease my mind as I have little to no time for planning ahead.

Boxed curriculums aren’t for everyone, but if you are considering one, I encourage you to check out these companies.

Heart of Dakota

My Fathers World




Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

5 Amazing Science Curriculums

Its curriculum shopping season and as you are browsing catalogs, hitting up conventions, and scouring the web, you may ask yourself what the perfect curriculum is. Well, the truth of the matter is there is none.  However, we can break it down and help you find a great curriculum that works for your family.

Today we are going to take a look at some of the top Science Curriculums out there.

Apologia Science 

This curriculum is a top pick for many homeschoolers. It offers studies on Zoology, Anatomy, General Science, Astronomy and more. One of the best things about it is the notebooking journals that add a hands-on concept to the textbook approach. See some of the guides on video and read more about Apologia Science, here.

God’s Design for Science

This is a creation-based curriculum for grades 1-8.  So you can teach your children together if they fit within this range of grade levels. It includes multiple topics like life, physical world, chemistry & ecology. The beginning of each textbook includes brief teaching instructions and hands-on experiments and activities are built into every lesson. You can read Cathy Duffy’s review of the program here. 

RE.A.L. Science Odyssey

Specifically designed for homeschoolers, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey from Pandia Press is a unique approach to science. It includes three different subjects: Life, Earth & Space, and Chemistry. Each option is designed for one year of teaching. It includes a reading lesson and hands-on experiments. It also offers a supplemental reading list. R.E.A.L. Science was written for home and small classroom use and is a perfect mixture of serious science and fun. Each lesson builds on itself and was created with the science novice in mind.  Read Cathy Duffy’s review of the program here.

Elemental Science

This curriculum offers a wide variety of material including curriculum for preschoolers, unit studies, living books and more. Elemental Science leans towards the classical approach but also draws upon Charlotte Mason methodology. It uses narration and sketching along with hands-on learning through science experiments.

TOP Science

This program offers experiments and labs for all grades and has very reasonable prices.It allows you to pick a topic, and then teach it, with items you already have around your home. Experiments and topics are divided up by grade level and the site itself if very easy to navigate. A great resource for learning science if you do not want a traditional curriculum.

These are just a few of the best homeschool science curriculums out there! Many of these publishers will also be at our homeschool expo in July. So register now if you want to see them in person!

Teacher In-Service Days for the Homeschool Mom

When my oldest daughter was four, she attended our local public preschool. That first year was our only REAL experience with public school. I remember NOT being very impressed. One reason was because every quarter the kids were out of school for a random day. The reason? Teacher in-service days. I rolled my eyes when I first saw it. To me, it seemed like a wasted day and a pain for parents who worked outside the home.

Teacher in-service days for the homeschool mom, YES, they need to happen. Teacher In-Service days are NOT just for public school teachers. There is so much homeschool moms can do too. Here are some ideas to help you plan a teacher in-service day for the homeschool mom.

What is a Teacher In-Service Day?

In public schools, it is a day where the teachers come to school, WITHOUT students. They may attend education seminars, be trained on new equipment or technology, have time allotted for planning out lessons and field trips for the next quarter, or collaborate with fellow teachers on projects.

How Can a Homeschool Mom Use a Teacher In-Service Day?

Now that I have been homeschooling for a few years, I totally SEE the reason behind Teacher In-Service Days, AND I even think we as homeschool parents can utilize these days a few times a year. What can a homeschool mom do on these days? Oh, the possibilities!

Further Education and Training

  • Attend a homeschool conference (digital OR in person)
  • Take a class at a local college or library
  • Train yourself on a program your children will be using for school
  • Familiarize yourself with a  new curriculum

Teacher Planning and Organizing

  • Plan out your lesson plans for the next quarter
  • Contact businesses and arrange field trips
  • Clean and organize your school room
  • Record attendance and catch up on grading papers
  • Fill out homeschool paperwork for the next year
  • Prepare in advance for crafts, art projects, and science experiments
  • Organize your craft closet
  • Laminate needed items for school


  • Meet with other moms in your homeschool group and plan out your year
  • Prepare for homeschool co-op classes with fellow homeschool moms
  • Have a curriculum share day where moms bring in curriculum they love

Any of the above ideas would fit the definition of a teacher in-service day. And, chances are you do each and every one of these things in addition to your normal homeschool day/week. I used to spend a Saturday once a month doing many of these items. OR, I would meet with the other homeschool moms in our group and THEN go home and do school. Now, I count this time as teacher in-service.

How to Plan a Teacher In-Service Day

So, now you know what a teacher in-service day is, and you know what to do on a teacher in-service day. But, how do you actually plan to have one?

Swap with a Friend

If you have a homeschool friend locally who could use a day to complete some of the tasks above, take her kids for a day. Then, the next week or month, she could take your kids for a day. This is a great way to give yourself, and your friend a much-needed break.

Utilize Your Partner

Does your spouse have government holidays off? A day like President’s Day? Labor Day? Or another day when many offices give their employees a day off? If so, use that day as a teacher in-service day. If they have vacation time, ask them to take one day off a school year to give you a teacher in-service day.

Let the Kids Netflix and Chill

Okay, as a LAST resort, you could always just let the kids have at the TV and do what you need to do. There are TONS of educational shows on Netflix that will allow your kids to learn AND allow you to complete the needed tasks. Again, this isn’t ideal, but for many of us, it is a reality. I won’t judge. Promise!

Teacher In-Service days for the homeschool mom NEED to happen. They are a great way for us to complete tasks that too often times take up our evenings and weekends. They allow us to train ourselves to become better homeschool parents. They allow us to familiarize ourselves with new equipment, technology, and curriculum. They allow ourselves to organize and clean those areas that too often times get left unattended and in turn, items get unused and forgotten about.

Teacher In-Service days are NOT just for public school teachers. Plan ahead to allow yourselves at least 2-3 each school year. You will be better prepared to start each semester and will have more time for the things that matter most.


Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares everyday tips and encouragement for the homeschool mom on her blog Joy in the Journey.



7 Ways to Engage Your Reluctant Reader

I have so many childhood memories curled up reading a book. From a young age, I always had a book in my hand. It was part of who I was. A reader. Fast forward a few years and both of my girls are the same way. When my son was born, I never considered the fact that he may not be the same. However, I am quickly realizing he is more like his non-reader father, and less like his literature-loving mom.

So, what does this mean for us? And our homeschool? I asked myself this question many times over the past year. I wanted to engage him, but not push him. Homeschooling a reluctant reader has been new for me, but there are a few things I have tried that seem to have worked wonders.

Don’t Push What Doesn’t Work

When we started this school year, I had full intentions of teaching my boy the exact same way I taught my girls. I had a literature based program. I had Hooked on Phonics. This is what I knew. I never considered another option.

However, I realized early on that neither program would work for my boy. I was forced to find something else. I was forced to teach a way that I hadn’t taught before. This was hard. BUT, it was necessary.

If you have a reluctant reader, do NOT push them. Don’t break their spirit. Don’t kill their love for learning. Don’t push what doesn’t work.

Are you homeschooling a reluctant reader? Not sure how to fully engage your reluctant reader? Don't give up! Here are some tips that can help you and your reluctant reader.

Be Flexible

Instead, of pushing methods we are used to, we need to be flexible. Research other methods and programs. Talk to other moms who have been where you are.When we have multiple kids there is NO guarantee that what works for one, will work for the others.

I have years of curriculum on our shelves from homeschooling my girls. Many of these are not going to work for my reluctant reader. But, I am realizing that flexibility is something that I am going to have to get used to.

We have to be willing to change and meet our child where they are. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!

 Allow Them to Choose the Books

Again, I have shelves and shelves of beautiful books. Classics. That I loved to read with my girls. I am not so sure my reluctant reader will ever enjoy some of these books like my girls did. BUT, he does enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby Do. Are these my picks? NO. But, if they are what he is willing to read, I want to encourage him to actually PICK up a book.

Is it going to be the end of the world if your child reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid instead of Shiloh? There was a time when I would have said yes. Now, I am realizing that when it comes to a reluctant reader, I have to be HAPPY that something peeks his interest. NOT worried about whether or not that book would be on a top ten literature list.


Additional Tips to Engage a Reluctant Reader

The above tips are really the top three I think when it comes to engaging a reluctant reader. However, there are much more ways we as homeschool parents can engage our kids in reading.

Participate in Shared Reading

This is something I have done with all three of my kids. While reading books stop in the middle of a sentence and allow the child to read words that they know. When they are old enough for chapter books take turns reading one page while your child reads the next. This is a great way to share books together and allows our children to hear and read words they may not know while we are with them and able to help.

Don’t Worry About Reading Level

So, your 6th grader wants to check out books in the elementary section? So what! They are READING! Where they are getting the books does not matter. I think we too often times worry about the reading level on top of the book instead of considering the child who is behind it. Don’t limit your child to where you think their reading level is.

Have Books Available

In order for your child to read, he must have books on hand. Have them available. Get them a library card. Check books out for them, even if they are not interested. The key is to have books available each and every day.

Don’t Underestimate Technology

So, funny story, I tried Hooked on Phonics with my son earlier this year. It was a NIGHTMARE. He wasn’t the least bit interested at all. So, we tried sight words instead. And, it worked. Which was fine. Then, someone told me about the Hooked on Phonics App. I downloaded it, and guess what? He LOVES it! He has picked up on reading quicker than I ever imagined.

Bottom line? Don’t underestimate technology. If your child loves apps, let them read on a kindle. If they would rather play games, teach them to read with a reading app instead of a reading curriculum.  Our kids are living in a different world, and we have to be able to meet them where they learn.

These are just a few ways I have found to encourage a love for reading and to engage my reluctant reader. Remember parents, if something doesn’t work, keep trying. Eventually, you will find a method that works for your child. He will READ. Be flexible. Encourage. And don’t give up!

Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares everyday tips and encouragement for the homeschool mom on her blog Joy in the Journey.

5 Common Mistakes First Timers Make at a Homeschool Convention

Homeschool convention season is here and we are gearing up for our Southeast Homeschool Expo as we speak. This will be my first time speaking at the Southeast Homeschool Expo and I can’t wait!  My first homeschool convention was an experience in itself, after homeschooling for awhile you’d think I would have been prepared for my first convention experience. I wasn’t. And I think very few first timers are.  In fact, I made quite a few homeschool convention mistakes. So, today, learn from my experience!

I think very few first-time homeschool convention attendees are not prepared. In fact, I made quite a few homeschool convention mistakes. So, today, learn from my experience!

Trying to Hear ALL the Speakers

I was SO excited to hear so many fabulous speakers at my first homeschool convention. However, reality hit shortly after I arrived. I had my ideal schedule packed back to back with little thought to food, fellowship or shopping. I ended up missing a few that I really wanted to hear because I had planned poorly.

I highly recommend only planning on hearing 2-3 speakers a day. Pick three topics you want to learn more about and find one speaker on each. Spend the rest of the time resting, shopping, or fellowshipping with other homeschool moms. Oh, and eating, if not you will crash by the end of the day starving and wondering where your time went.

Buying on the first day

If you plan on being at the homeschool convention more than one day do NOT buy the first day. I was so excited when I went and SO sure I knew what I wanted to buy that I spent all my money the first day at exhibitors I was familiar with. On the second day when I browsed, I realized there was more out there than I knew about, AND I had maybe purchased prematurely.

Here’s the thing, there may be curriculum you LOVE, but give other vendors a shot to gain your interest. If not, you may wonder what else is out there and have NO clue because you never shopped around. If you wait and hit your favorites last you may be happier with your purchases because you will KNOW that you TRULY shopped around and found the materials PERFECT for your family. Not second guessing yourself like I did…

Not having a way to pack my purchases

Guys, I swear I was the ONLY homeschool mom at the convention without something on wheels.  Seriously. Instead, I was lugging a big old bag that about broke my arm. I lost feeling in it after the first day. If you don’t want to purchase a rolling cart, consider bringing a carry on size suitcase with wheels. This will work the same way, and you probably have one lying around your house. The only downside is that you have to open it each time you want to access it.

Losing my list

Before attending the convention I made a list of all the vendors I wanted to see as well as my budget for each item I needed to purchase. I then proceeded to lose my list the first day of the convention.  This year, I will have a paper list and then I will take a picture of it in case I lose my list again.

You could also type out your list in the note section of your phone, make a copy, or write it down in more than one place. Bottom line is to have a backup version of your list in some way. This also helps in case you forget your copy in the hotel room or at home :)

Budgeting poorly

I budgeted ahead of time for purchases I knew I was going to make. I left the convention WAY over budget because I honestly budgeted pretty poorly. I did not take into consideration the following things:

  • The cost of convention food (the prices are WAY higher than normal restaurants). Consider doubling the budget for food before you attend OR pack lunch and snacks in a cooler. Just remember whatever you pack you will have to carry around or allow for time to go back to your room and eat (if you are staying on site).
  • Parking, many parking garages charge per day. Some hotels offer free parking, but keep in mind you may have to walk a few blocks (with your purchases) if you do not stay on site.
  • Impulse buys. Yes, I know we shouldn’t budget for these right? But in reality, you will buy a few items on impulse. Consider giving yourself a little wiggle room for that item you have NEVER seen before that you KNOW your kids will love. For me, it was a human anatomy puzzle (that is still in the plastic box unopened) and Little House on the Prairie Paper Dolls (that have been played with a LOT!).

So, will I be seeing you at the homeschool expo? I hope so! And, if it is your FIRST convention I hope sharing my homeschool convention mistakes will help YOU prepare better before you arrive!

Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares everyday tips and encouragement for the homeschool mom on her blog Joy in the Journey.



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