Is there a silent majority in homeschooling circles?
I think Hunter was describing this forum, not necessarily homeschoolers in general. I think a majority of homeschoolers probably aren't on forums like this, discussing curricula. At least, most of the ones I know aren't. Locally, I mention Singapore, and they have no idea what I'm talking about. They've only heard of A Beka and Saxon (which isn't a box, but it's popular). They don't waste time researching curricula like I do.
So yes, here on WTM, the vast majority shuns "the box", but I think in general, homeschoolers are still very box happy (which is perfectly fine!!!). When I look at what the homeschoolers locally are selling, there is a lot of A Beka, an occasional BJU, a lot of Saxon. Really, that's what most here are using. Just a couple weeks ago, a homeschooler at church brought up math to me, and she told me how she was switching from a A Beka to Saxon. She asked what I used. I said Singapore. She'd never heard of it. She doesn't go online to research curricula at all. And again, that's perfectly fine. She's happy with her homeschool, and her kids are happy, so it's all good.
As far as the OP goes... I guess I can sort of see some similarity between my curricula choices and my house. My house is a bit haphazard, but I try to keep it organized, and I'd like for it to be clutter-free (it's better than it was!). Likewise, my curriculum choices are a bit all over the place, but I keep them organized and streamlined. I don't do a lot of busy-work (guess that would be the clutter?).
I definitely have learned to use materials *I* like to teach. If I were to get a Waldorf curriculum and try to teach my children, it probably wouldn't get done. I'm not an artsy person (I do enjoy sewing and music, but drawing... nope). I don't like doing projects. My oldest is like me and doesn't even learn much from projects. He learns more from reading. In biology class, I learned more reading about the insides of a frog than I did dissecting one (the one thing I remember from dissecting is that if you are cutting through the top of the head to get to the brain and you miss, you might pull the tongue out through the top of the head
). Now obviously if I were to go into a medical field, I'd need to know how to work on real animals or people, but as far as learning what the parts of the frog are, a labeled picture is actually better for me. My oldest son is the same way. So teaching him has been easy. Now he's flexible and will learn from just about anything, but he is very similar to me. We did the left-brained/right-brained test in Ellen McHenry's "The Brain" unit recently, and my oldest is left-brained like me, though he has *some* right-brained traits that I don't have. We tested my middle son, and as I expected... very right-brained. He thinks in pictures. He's completely opposite of me. I still use the same materials with him, and I just adjust gently. Most curricula can be used with multiple learning styles. For example, Singapore math hits the kinesthetic kids via manipulatives, the visual kids via pictorial, and the auditory kids via the teacher teaching the material and discussing it. Most curricula are designed that way. Obviously, some curricula will be more extreme. For example, Right Start would be a bad fit for my oldest, as he's very abstract and doesn't need manipulatives. Manipulatives slow him down, and that bothers him. I'm thankful for that, because I hated teaching RS.
As far as teaching my middle son, I've had to appeal more to movement and pictures for teaching him, but again, I can use the same curricula that I used with my oldest, who learns well from reading on his own and from me reading to him.
So basically, I pick what *I* want to teach, and I just adjust it ever so slightly to meet the kids. I suppose if I had a kid with an LD or an extreme learning style, it might be different. Obviously, there are kids like that who really can't learn from just any curricula. But I think most kids can probably learn from a variety of curricula, and in those cases, meeting the teacher's needs first makes absolute sense. If I don't like teaching something, it may not get taught. I'd rather pick something I'll actually teach consistently. That's what I had to do with spelling... I hated teaching spelling. Just hated it. I used AAS for a while, but it started becoming something I didn't get around to some days. I tried Spalding, but I hated teaching that too. Then I realized that R&S Spelling taught basically the same phonics and rules, so I got that. My son is now learning to spell... independently!!! I don't have to teach spelling anymore! Hooray! Now it gets done consistently, and his spelling is improving much more than it did with AAS (I didn't use Spalding long enough to see results from that). My son did great with AAS, but in this case, the program that got used consistently every day is the more effective. Both teach solid phonics, which is what I wanted, so now all is good.
Likewise, teaching phonics to my middle son with games and activities would probably work well for him, but for ME, one Phonics Pathways book is all I need, and it's working well, because we do it consistently every day. I did get out a picture from the IEW PAL program to differentiate letters 'm' and 'n', but otherwise, I've just used what works for me, and it's getting done, and he's learning.