If you are a homeschooler you have probably heard about A Beka. They are one of the longest standing homeschool curriculum providers, and actually what I grew up using as a child. The books are bright and incredibly comprehensive and fill me with a nostalgic sense of comfort. My first year homeschooling I bought all the completely curriculum kits for all my little ones and could hardly wait to get started. Through the years, I have learned the hard way that A Beka absolutely, positively, does not work for our family (despite my love for it and desire to make it work) and thought I would share for those of you who may be considering it.
My history with A Beka
I was homeschooled nearly all the way through to grade 11 (I went to high school for second term of grade 10 through to graduation). Nearly the entire way through my homeschooling journey, I used A Beka curriculum. I remember when that HUGE box would come in the mail (I had 3 siblings being homeschooled at the same time), I was always the MOST excited to open it. I can smell the new book smell, I loved the bright colors and the pictures and the freshness of a new year. I loved having my very own books and usually got started THAT DAY, no matter what. I would sometimes work through multiple books in a year, I loved that curriculum with every fibre of my being. It was fun, I loved workbooks and it just worked with me. My great aunt is actually a writer and has written numerous books for A Beka, so when I say I love this curriculum, it is coming from a deep sense of nostalgia, connections, and fond memories.
What happened when we tried it
I tried A Beka twice. Once when we first started (I bought their entire preschool package) and again last year. I went and purchased all the curriculum sets, determined to give it another chance and now I have books that are filled in about 2-3 weeks in and otherwise completely blank. I just can’t bear to throw them away but there is no one to sell them to up here. As I was reorganizing my school books and purging what just didn’t work for us (notice the AOP Lifepacs in there as well?) I thought I’d lay it all out for you guys. Check out these four reasons A Beka didn’t work for our family.
- It is designed for traditional homeschoolers. While it worked well for me, a classic traditional homeschooler in every sense, it didn’t work for my children, who learn best in a more Charlotte Mason/Unschooling/Eclectic learning environment. The repetition and book after book format just took all the joy out of school for them. They HATED it. “School Time” was met with tears and that was before we even started!
- It was too much. For language arts alone, my son had four separate books: Letters and Sounds, Language, Spelling and Poetry, and Writing with Phonics. Each one had full pages of copywork and matching and writing and grammar. Even one of those books was a lot for him, add in using all of them and he was beside himself. The day I packed those up was the happiest day of his life!
- It is a bit archaic. Now that I know more about learning styles and how we learn, there are simply better ways to teach. If I wanted to mimic school I could just send my kids to school. There is nothing in this that teaches to an auditory learner or a hands on learner.
- It is boring. I must have been a little keener that wanted to play school as a child (who am I kidding, I totally was!) but for my kids, I wasn’t even motivated to pull this stuff out. Read, write, repeat. I want to teach my kids through stories and games and activities, I want to do projects and learn together as a family rather than in our own little dark corner of the school room. I want it to be a living education, that is relatable to them, not random facts and repetitive information that they won’t remember. I wanted a learning experience that was customized to my children, and my kinesthetic learner was dying inside when it was time for aBeka. I was frustrated every day because I had to push it, make it happen, it was just bad. Bad from day one and it never got better.
We literally didn’t make it a month into these books before I called it. One thing I have learned about homeschooling is that you have to be flexible, don’t get so caught up in what you want and expect. Yup, that was a LOT of money, we still have the readers, the rest is sitting in a locker in my basement. But the idea here is that in the beginning I have had to do a bit of trial and error. I have made mistakes. I have bought curriculum (AOP life pacs are the SAME idea, total mistake) that was a recipe for disaster. And the more I learn about myself, the more I learn about my vision for homeschooling and what I want out of it, the more I learn about my kids and how they learn… the better I am becoming at finding curriculum that works for all of us! (yes, it is possible!).
Is school a battle for you?
If you are fighting your kids everyday and feel like you are losing the battle, have you considered that it might be the way you are teaching? The books you are using? The method you are using? I have put together a 5 day course that is designed to help you identify your homeschool vision and teaching style and see if those align or not. Sometimes, like me, we need to change the way we teach because even though it comes naturally to us, it just isn’t accomplishing our goal! It will also help you learn your children’s personalities and learning styles so that you can better tailor their education to them. But the best part? At the end, I will put together a custom curriculum recommendation based on my experience as a homeschooled kid, homeschool mom, and the results of your course. I will send you an email with what I think might work for you and we can discuss those, ask questions, etc. to help you feel confident in what you are using this year! This course is entirely free! All you need to do is head here to sign up!
Choosing curriculum isn’t easy, but it is one of the most important things we do as homeschool moms. The curriculum we use can make or break our entire year. If you already have your curriculum, run with it! Try it, be open, try to make it work and find a way to make it work for you. But if you have put in the effort and it is just taking all the joy away from homeschooling for your family, don’t be afraid to cut your losses! Be honest with yourself and your kids, ask their input! Do a 1 month evaluation, find out what THEY think of it! I am confident that the more we can view curriculum as a tool and not something we are a slave to, the better our homeschool experience is going to be!