Traditional text books vs living books/hands on approach

I’m currently using mainly traditional textbooks, BJU, but my sons learns more hands on. He is not a strong reader (1st grade), I read his history/science lessons to him. When I ask him to narrate back to me (after I have read 1paragraph), he has NO idea what I read! I’m thinking of switching to MOH or SOTW, and Apologia Exploring Creation series science. I was building a human body model of the organs and he was asking a million questions (with our BJU science he asks NO questions). how do I know when I should abandon our textbook approach and use a hands on/project approach? Hands on is NOT my teaching style, but I’m pretty sure it’s his learning style. HELP!!

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Sounds like you might have answered yourself! :slight_smile:

I would say finish out this year with what you already own (adding in some hands on activities where you can) and then order new things for next year. If you are well organized, I think you’ll quickly adapt to the new types of lessons and if your son is truly a hands-on learner, you’ll see him thrive!! Good luck!

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I actually have TONS of curriculum…I have MOH/SOTW and Apologia😋 what would be your thoughts (pros/cons) if I switched now vs next year? I don’t want my son to learn to give up, but if curriculum isn’t working…

If you already have the curriculum I would totally switch now! (I just didn’t think you’d want to switch this close to the end of the year if you didn’t already own the materials.). I don’t think it sends a “giving up” message as you are still learning…it just teaches him to learn to adapt when you find new/better ways of doing things.

I know that I changed several pieces of curriculum last year and my daughter was thankful that I didn’t just keep making her do what I has planned simply because it was what I had planned.


Thank you for your thoughts and your support!!!

I love Mystery of History. Sometimes it can be a bit much for young students–depends on the child.

However, I will say that neither of my kids could narrate at 6. The closest we could come was if I pointed to a picture and had them tell me anything they could remember about it. Narration will come in time. That’s not to say don’t switch now or adjust to your son’s learning style–I just didn’t want you to think other people’s kids are always great at narration!

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to be flexible. We have the choice to say when something isn’t working and switch it out. I have been homeschooling for 13 years and I never made it through an entire school year with every single piece of curriculum that I started with. If something isn’t working, I get rid of it. I love that flexibility.

Also regarding hands on or not, I think that it takes awhile to really see what works best for you and your students. It is not really that cut and dry. I have found that many homeschoolers like to start with a traditional curriculum. Especially those who were not homeschooled as a child or may be pulling a child out of school. There is a comfort in it, it feels most like school. The majority of veteran homeschoolers that I know use a mix of curriculum. Some workbook type (traditional), some hands on activities, some classical. The longer you homeschool, the more you realize that there is no perfect formula and also what works for one child in a your family may not work for another.

Homeschooling means you can be flexible.


My daughter (age 12, but working at 3rd/4th grade level) has a very hands-on learning style. When we did SOFW (Story of the World for those who don’t know), we focused on projects. The first year, when we did Ancient History, what she remembers now are the projects we did. The rest of it? Not so much. We built Lego pyramids, blueberry dyed pasta necklaces and made a mosaic stepping stone…and a lot more. If I explained how those things tied into ancient history, she was more likely to get it. She just isn’t a worksheet kind of student. :slight_smile:

The good news? You can make ANY curriculum a little more hands on. And as for your comment “I don’t want my son to learn to give up”…NO! You aren’t teaching him to give up. You are teaching an important lesson - we need to be flexible and make changes when needed. If something isn’t working, then move on. One of the joys of homeschooling is being able to adapt to the child’s learning preferences…and to find a way to make the learning “stick”.