What We've Been Up To Lately: Community or Curriculum?

Community has always been an essential ingredient of our homeschool.

When the kids were younger I would definitely tell you community was more important than curriculum. By that I mean we were in an “extracurricular” co-op once a week for the benefit of community. Sure, the classes were engaging and beneficial, but they weren’t essential to our learning and were outside of our curriculum.

As my children reached middle school age, however, community and curriculum became intertwined. We began Classical Conversations and that was a good solution for both needs.

Until it wasn’t.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

For my oldest, we needed to follow her heart and desires. We took her out of a CC community and enrolled her in online classes and a few classes at a local classical school.

We had to seriously evaluate the curriculum and the community, too. In her case, we needed a change in BOTH.

She will be graduating in May and I now look back and thank GOD for leading us in the right direction!

She is finishing high school with a beautiful of mix of her interests and also the “required” curriculum.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

This week my husband and I have had some long, thoughtful discussions about the community we want for our son going forward.

We also received the latest Classical Conversations catalog and have been discussing whether the curriculum for next year fits our son’s needs.

As I stood talking with another mom this morning she articulated what I have been feeling: Which is more important to us moving forward? Community or Curriculum?

The Importance of Homeschool Community

Three years ago we started a new CC community. A prayerful group of moms (most of us with boys) came together to form a place where we could be together and educate our children together through high school.

I cannot accurately describe what a BLESSING this group has been. Our community is STRONG. The children are thoughtful and diligent, hard working and kind. The parents are friends and we are walking the road of Christian parenthood together.

We all remark how RARE this kind of community is and do not take it for granted.

Homeschooling at Homegrown Learners: Community or Curriculum?

That first year of our group was small. We had a group of 6 moms that met to pray about our community. We prayed for tutors, facilities, and so much more.

Now that community has changed locations. We have dozens more families, and have expanded to Challenge A, B, and I. Our Challenge I class next year will have 11 children - most of them have been together since their elementary years.

When Community Trumps Curriculum

Many of you who have followed me know that I am a bit leery of all of the reading that is done in Challenge I and II. I don’t want to see my son lose his love of reading.

I believe there should be more formalized history in the high school years.

I don’t think the sciences are accelerated enough in the Challenge years.

Those are things I am willing to adjust and work with so that we can have the benefit of THIS COMMUNITY.

We will most likely add an online Spanish class next year. I will probably omit some of the reading. This summer we may work on Physical Science so that we can move ahead to Biology in Challenge I.

The bottom line is this: There will never be a perfect school situation. We need to work on a child by child basis to determine what is most important for them at a given point in time.

Additionally, I think it is important to never commit yourself so wholeheartedly to one method or program that you cannot make a change if that is what is best for your child. When the method becomes more important than the child you have a serious problem!

That’s what weve been up to this week (well that AND lots of basketball!) - making big decisions for next year and evaluating decisions from previous years.

Homeschooling these upper grades is so GOOD - there is no need to be afraid. Just jump in and GO - with prayer and careful research you can avail yourselves of all of the wonderful opportunities out there!

What have you been up this week?

Making any big decisions for next year? Let me know in the comments below!

You might also like:

Homeschool High School to College

How to Reach Your Teen Homeschooler’s Heart

What We've Been Up To Lately: Visiting, Celebrating, Playing & Reading

I have a New Year’s resolution (in addition to my homeschool word for 2019)

It includes documenting our daily goings-on in weekly What We’ve Been Up To Lately posts.

Sometimes we see a blog and only see the shiny. We only see the perfect curriculum, the well manicured children, and the homeschool supermom.

I’d love to give you an accurate picture of our life - our life as a homeschooling family - on the verge of graduating their oldest. A life of a homeschooling family where mom is a working mom. A life of a homeschooling family that only has teens at the moment.

Welcome to What We’ve Been Up To Lately!

What I’ve Been Up To Lately (January 1)


We traveled to Southwest Florida to visit my 88 year old dad last week.

My kids are seasoned road trip folks.

Here’s my dirty little secret: I turned on my internet hotspot and let them spend the ride on their devices. I think someone watched a lot of Dude Perfect, and my daughter told me she watched a few movies on Netflix.

I finished a WONDERFUL book.

We were stuck in traffic. My back has been teetering on the edge of going out for the past week. I was uncomfortable.

People were getting a little crabby.

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)

But we made it!

The weather has been gorgeous here, and my dad is the best I have seen him in a year.

So much of my children’s time has been spent watching my husband and me care for our aging parents. What a gift this has been.

My dad is the only one of my kids’ four grandparents still living, and we cherish him.

We gave him (in my opinion) the best present I have ever picked out!

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)

The sunsets have been gorgeous - just picture perfect.

We had fun one evening snapping photos on the beach, and my goofy Grant just couldn’t resist an opportunity to photo bomb.

These times are dwindling with my children. Quickly.

I want to make the most of them.

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)


Even though the water was cold, he went in all the way and watched the sunset from there.

Goodbye 2018 - Hello 2019.

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)


From my dad’s we traveled a short bit north to my sister and brother-in-law’s house.

My sister is always a wonderful hostess. We eat such good food and she always has fun things planned for everyone.

We have a game of Monopoly (still going on, actually) that has drawn everyone in.

I don’t know how that happened, because I do NOT like to play that game!)

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)

My husband and sister and brother-in-law took the kids on a kayaking trip this morning.

I’m so sad I couldn’t go with them - I think my poor back wouldn’t be happy with me if I crammed into a kayak for a couple of hours right now.


Everyone is reading something this trip. I love it.

I just finished the audio for 84, Charing Cross Road. SO charming!

Then, I started The Time Traveler’s Wife. The jury is still out on this one.

What We’ve Been Up To (January 1, 2019)

My husband is reading Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans - he is a history buff so he’s enjoying this one.

My son is trying to finish the Pendragon Series because he claims he has bigger fish to fry after this! But, he has really liked this series.

My daughter (who much to my chagrin isn’t much of a reader) brought along the The Diary of Anne Frank graphic novel and has told me she likes it. (I read it and loved it!)

On a side note, I’m knee deep in SQUILT LIVE! lessons right now.

January is a month of musicals and I find myself falling down rabbit holes preparing engaging lessons for all of my students.

I just ADORE teaching kids about great music.

You can join me at any time.

What have YOU been up to lately? Tell us about your homeschool goings-on in the comments below. I love to hear how other like-minded families spend their days!

And, if you’d like to subscribe to these What’s We’ve Been Up To Lately updates, just fill out the info in the box below:

Join Our Homegrown Learning Community!

* indicates required