Friday, January 28, 2022

Blossom and Root Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Review



The following review is a guest post by Latina mom, Vanessa Ruiz. All thoughts and opinions are her own.

When you are looking to homeschool your child, you want to make sure that he or she is learning absolutely everything necessary for success. To ensure we cover all the necessities, many of us look to pre-made curricula to avoid the overwhelming task of planning a year of learning. However, choosing the right curriculum is no small feat. Here is a review of the Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum to help you decide if this homeschool curriculum is the best choice for your child.

Note: We used the Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum for the 2020-2021 school year. A huge update was released in the Summer of 2021. Although we did not get to use the updated materials during our school year, I looked over the new materials to give you the most current review possible.

The Pros of the Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum


Nature and Play Based


Anytime you can do school outdoors, it’s a good day. With Blossom and Root, you are encouraged to go outside as often as you can. The curriculum is based upon the Charlotte Mason principles, which means that time in nature is a huge component of learning.

My son loved doing school at the park or in the woods and I loved the special memories we got to create together. We often spent more time playing than doing the actual school work, and that is exactly how it should be for the early years.

We chose to homeschool because of the COVID-19 pandemic and due to unfortunate previous experiences that had shattered my son’s self-confidence. This curriculum was the perfect springboard to help him re-encounter a love of learning and confidence in himself. We got to be creative, go at our own pace, and explore his interests together.


Secular Curriculum


Although I am a person of faith, I want my child to have a well-rounded education that introduces him to the world, not just one point of view.

Therefore, I love that Blossom and Root is a secular curriculum that doesn’t mention faith but does introduce figures of different faith backgrounds and points of view.



Science


We absolutely loved the way science is presented as an adventure into outer space. The 2021 update even includes a list of recommended texts to help expand the exploration.

This was the one subject matter that my son begged to do each day. We ended up far ahead in science because he just couldn’t wait to go visit his friend Zoola in space. He told everyone he met about his trip and even built a cardboard box space ship big enough for the whole family.

History


I also loved how history was presented in such a child-friendly way. You begin by exploring your child’s own history, their family and community. The year ends with a section to study influential people of your choice. Therefore, you can cater this subject to your family’s own heritage and background.

Well-Rounded


What amazed me about this curriculum is that you could sufficiently explore all the subject matters in a very small amount of time. I remember never having enough time for art or history as a classroom teacher. Yet, in our few hours each day of homeschool, we were able to fit in all the subjects.

I love the artist and musician selections in the updated version. We didn’t love the choices in the first version because they were lacking diversity. However, the updates have done a beautiful job of selecting artists of diverse backgrounds.


Small Time Commitment


This was a catch-22 for us but for most people it is a huge perk. Sometimes we would get through all the material for the day in an hour or less. The curriculum recommends free play after structured school time is done, which sounds wonderful.

Unfortunately, my son didn’t do well with free play at first because he was used to constant structure and always having other kids around. To make matters worse, I was still working from home full time and needed to keep my son busy eight hours a day. So, I quickly learned to have a busy book full of supplemental activities on hand for the days we zoomed through it all.




You Can Mix and Match


As I mentioned before, my son’s previous educational experiences had left him ill-equipped for Kindergarten in many ways. He was not quite at the Kindergarten level in some subject areas and far beyond in others. Luckily, you can choose to purchase additional curriculum pieces by subject. They are sold separately on the website for most grade levels.

I could have purchased both the Early Years Curriculum and Kindergarten bundle to help supplement our Kindergarten curriculum in the areas where he was lacking.


The Optional Book Lists


This first edition had very little literature guidance beyond the language arts section. I love that the update includes optional literature recommendations for each topic. That would have saved me so much planning time!


The Cons of the Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum


Print Your Own Curriculum


I personally didn’t mind this aspect but I have heard others mention that they don’t like having to print the curriculum on their own.

Blossom and Root does recommend a vendor you can use in order to print and bind your curriculum but that is not a purchase option offered directly through the Blossom and Root website.

We just printed it all out on regular paper and put it in three ring binders with divider tabs and it worked out wonderfully. I think I actually prefer that to having several smaller books for each subject.


The Planning Process


For me, the draw of a curriculum is that it is planned out for you. Therefore, I want you to hand me a lesson plan grid with everything I need to do each day so that I can just jump in and get started.


The Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum does provide a chart with everything you will go over during the week within each subject. However, I would have loved all that information together on one page so that I didn’t have to keep flipping back and forth throughout the week, or make my own lesson plan, to stay on track.

There is, however, a master supply list and a master book list so that you can at least get everything you need at once.


Outdated literature (before Summer of 2021)


When we first began using Blossom and Root in the Fall of 2020, the literature used in the language arts section felt sorely outdated. I found myself doing the necessary reading but supplementing with diverse authors and more modern texts.

However, in June of 2021 an updated version was released and it almost made me want to go back and redo Kindergarten. The curriculum now contains a beautifully diverse list of titles from all walks of life.

I chose to still mention this aspect because the creator of Blossom and Root is updating one grade level at a time. Therefore, if you are looking for a grade level other than Kindergarten, you may want to check the expected update timeline before purchasing, or just plan to supplement in order to add more diversity to your literature.

The Nature Study Readings


We loved, loved the projects that took us outside into nature to explore. We both abhorred the readings from The Burgess Animal Book for Children.

The chapters are long and dry and left my active five year old frustrated and tired. We tried splitting them up into a page a day, letting him play or bounce while I read, asking questions as we read and stopping frequently but nothing overcame the boredom.

Eventually, we skipped the readings completely and used supplemental books or videos to learn about the animals or topics in the nature studies.

Keep in mind that there are surely kids out there who love this text and listen with enthusiasm. Mine is just not one of those kids.



Light on the Math


My son loves math and science. Therefore, one math lesson a week embedded into our space exploration was not enough for him. However, looking back onto my own childhood, I personally would have loved having math hidden within an adventure.

They do have a list of recommended math curricula on their FAQ page, I was just hoping the Blossom and Root Kindergarten Curriculum would have everything I needed included.


Doesn’t Always Align With State Standards


If you are homeschooling for a short period of time and want your child to be able to jump into public school without missing a beat, you will want to double check your state’s learning standards to make sure you are covering everything necessary. However, this is true with most curricula, not an issue with Blossom and Root itself.

In my opinion, Blossom and Root is a wonderful, well-rounded curriculum for kids and families who enjoy nature and lots of playtime. It has just enough freedom within the structure to allow you to modify things depending on your child’s needs and explore topics that are important to you.


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Vanessa Ruiz is a mother of two bilingual boys, former Spanish teacher and early childhood educator turned writer. She also runs the website, Families Embracing Diversity, a resource to help families learn to embrace our differences today in order to give our children a better tomorrow.

In her spare time she enjoys reading books on diversity and culture, traveling when possible with her family and friends, and spending time outdoors.

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