A review of one of our favorite secular curriculums
NEW UPDATE: Check out my just published, in-depth review of Level 4 here!
I'm going to try to keep this from sounding like a sales pitch, I promise. But be forewarned that I'm pretty obsessed with Blossom & Root so I don't really have anything negative to say about it. It might not be the best fit for everyone, but if your style is providing 'Wonder and Discovery' (in their words) for your children, and you have a love of nature studies and quality literature...this might just be the one for you!
If you've been searching for secular curriculum, you know the options are few and far between. I'm going to share about some other options that we love in another post. But there just aren't a lot at this point. Which is why I was so excited to discover B&R last year.
You can click this link for the full list of Blossom & Root products. You can click on each individual item, which will redirect you to their full site that includes descriptions, scope and sequence pages and product samples! (the website is being redesigned shortly and I will update the links and description for how to search around, whenever that happens!)
We actually started out my oldest's TK year at a Waldorf charter because it fit in so well with our beliefs about early childhood education, as well as the research we had done that shows that pushing formal education too early is detrimental to long-term learning. We did not believe in pushing reading too early, or that a 5 year old should be inside of a classroom at a desk for 6 or 7 hours a day. We follow the evidence-based practice that a slow and unforced introduction into language and literature is best, and that small children should be spending most of their days outdoors in nature. That research is instrumental in our curriculum choice, naturally. And if any of that is ringing a bell for you as well, I think B&R is going to be as great a fit for you as it is for us!
"We believe science in the early grades should largely concern the natural and physical world of the child: the rocks and the trees and the worms that they see and touch first-hand" - Kristina Garner of Blossom & Root
One of the other key things for us is that because it isn't super formal and rigid, it's a great option for spanning multiple grade levels, with more than one learner in the family. I've mentioned before that with our 8 and 6yr old, we try to combine as many subjects as possible and then just adjust up and down as needed. B&R labels their packages as 'years' not grades, and even gives the generous age span that each level would likely work for (they note that year 3 science would work for ages 5-12, for instance). This also means there's a lot of wiggle room to start with whatever level fits your child or their interests best! For instance, we started Year 1 language arts for our kinder, because I felt it was the best fit for his ability level. We're also working our way through Year 1 'Exploring the Math in Art' with both kiddos. Though we'll have one in 1st grade and one in 3rd in the fall, we're actually going to be using Level 2 science, because I feel like it will bridge the gap between them perfectly. The flexibility to do that is definitely one of our favorite things about the curriculum.
To that end, I think its important to note that they recognize that flexibility is key and you aren't stuck buying the entire year's full package, if you only need bits or pieces! We utilize Bravewriter for most of our language arts learning at this point, so we don't always need to add the language arts portion of B&R. And for year 2, we opted to exclude the Nature Study portion, simply because I think they'll get enough of that with the science portion and our other daily activities. I love that you have that option!
If you are looking for a language arts program, you definitely cannot go wrong with this one, however. It checks one of our most important boxes in that it uses great literature to introduce concepts, and also uses copywork and narration as its main focal points. (Something those familiar with Bravewriter will also recognize) The reason we did choose to add it for this year is that it also incorporates age-appropriate grammar and phonics introduction. Since much of our Bravewriter work is over the head of a kindergartner in those areas, this bridges the gap perfectly for us. We'll be taking our time working through this with our 6 year old over the summer and fall, since there is no rush. The Year 2 language arts program has many books we've already read, or are above our ability level (I'm looking at you Hobbit), so we're skipping that one. However, the scope and sequence and book list for Year 3 was just released (full curriculum is scheduled for release in August) and the book list looks amazing, so we will definitely be utilizing language arts when we get to that year! The science for year 2 is focused on the plant and fungi kingdoms (which my boys will love!) and then it moves on to the animal kingdom for year 3. Later years of curriculum are set to follow, being released one year at a time moving forward.
Kristina takes such care in building robust, thoughtful and cohesive curricula, that I'm super excited to be able to move forward and grow with them in the future!
I'm going to just add a few notes here about some of the other pieces, to keep this from being more wordy than it already is. The Math in Art, while not exactly a 'math' component I would say, is a great supplement for introducing some concepts that you might not otherwise (like concentric circles, for instance) but it's also a fun way to bring in some art history and can be a really fun way to start a day, or week.
And while we don't use them personally, Blossom & Root also offers something called Book Seeds. I would describe these as individual unit studies, with science and nature, based around books. These would be amazing supplement or to add in some fun, summer learning. They do offer a Kindergarten curriculum as well as an Early years for pre-K. These are wonderful nature based levels that would be a wonderful introduction for any early homeschooler, we just didn't discover B&R until we were past those levels already, sadly.
There is not a history component included yet, so you'd need to add that and math, for a 'complete' curriculum (see my other curriculum post for great options for both) but Blossom & Root really gives you the foundations for an amazing school year, based on building an incredible relationship with your children and the world around them.
(If you don't feel like making an account here to ask questions...a Wix limitation that frustrates many... go ahead and pop over to my Instagram or Facebook feed where I'll be posting about this review, and feel free to drop any questions there! I'm always happy to help!)
**this post contains affiliate links, however the opinions and views contained within are entirely my own. I have been provided some portions of curriculum and have also purchased other portions with my own funds.