Robinson Curriculum Review: The Ultimate Minimalist Curriculum

Finding a good curriculum can be super stressful. The cost can be even more so. If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you probably know that there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. It just doesn’t exist. There is an ever increasing pressure on homeschooling families to fill their homes with not only a ridiculous amount of academic material but extracurricular as well.

If you have more than one child, textbooks, workbooks, teacher’s manuals, posters, art supplies and the like, easily can consume your pockets, your home, your schedule and your sanity.

On my quest to find a simpler, more minimalist approach to my homeschool, I was mostly unsuccessful until I came across the Robinson Curriculum.

If you don’t know about the Robinson Curriculum, you are not alone. It is not a well known homeschooling option, in spite of it being around for over 20 years.

What is the Robinson Curriculum

In a nutshell…Dr. Robinson suddenly became a widower, leaving him with 6 children to raise. In an attempt to still homeschool his kiddos and work full time, he and his children developed a system that would allow them to learn independently.

Reading, writing and arithmetic… that’s it!

Dr. Robinson’s children did two hours of math, one hour of essay writing and two hours of reading everyday. All other subjects are covered simply by reading the book list provided. Dr. Robinson’s older children would take turns teaching the younger siblings, leaving him time to do his job. In fact, Dr. Robinson claims that he only spent 15 minutes a day max on teaching his children.

The curriculum comes in a 22 CD-ROM set that is around $200 for K-12 and/ or a two year online subscription. Every subject needed is included except math which is purchased separately. Saxon Math is recommended and can be purchased on the RC website. However, the first or second editions, I believe are the best, as they are easier to implement and are dirt cheap when bought used. I have found them for as low as $4 at used book stores and used curriculum sales.

The curriculum itself is predominantly centered around a carefully selected book list of skillfully written older books rich in good moral values, vocabulary, science, history and other subjects. There are many other resources such as a spelling book, grammar book, and vocabulary lessons included in the Robinson Curriculum as well.

If you would like a more detailed description of the RC method, refer to my post The Benefits of Independent Learning.

There is also a new face to this curriculum. Karen from Our House Homeschooling, is a mother who uses the Robinson Curriculum with her 6 children and is passionate about helping others transition into the RC ways. Her YouTube videos and blog is very helpful!

So what do I think…

I Absolutely Love It!!!!

This method is very structured yet flexible since it is so simple. I know exactly what to do with no complicated teacher’s manual or loads of busywork. No more hovering over children and teaching them every-single-thing. No more stressing over having to cover an array of subjects. And best of all…no more homeschool mommy burnout!

Since this curriculum is so basic, I find there is plenty of room to make it my own! RC recommends teaching a child to read using phonics. It comes with phonics flashcards and the online version has the book AlphaPhonics that is available to print out. However, any reading curriculum is yours for the choosing. I love how I can take the material and concept and add my own flare to fit each child. My second child has a moderate/severe form of Dyspraxia and I am able to tweak this curriculum to fit her specific learning style with no problem.

Focusing on just the 3 R’s has really given my children a chance to master what they need to learn. I have to say, I am rather surprised how much all four of my kids have flourished thus far, especially my oldest. I am beginning to think that always feeling like I have to teach everything, held her back. I am so happy to see such positive results-not only in her academic achievements but in her self confidence as well. My other three are showing mark improvements since I am not throwing various subjects at them. It just makes sense for me to give them a firm foundation in reading and basic math concepts before introducing them to other things.

The Challenges…

Again there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • You need a good printer. This curriculum is all on CD-ROM or on their online subscription. Every book has to be printed out. So a really good printer is recommended to keep this curriculum cost efficient. I love the Epson ET-2750. It is pricey initially, but the ink is very affordable. I can print thousands of pages for a fraction of the cost. With or without RC, this investment alone has been the biggest game changer in my homeschooling!
  • RC can be a bit of a learning curve at first. This curriculum evokes self discipline in the student. If your child is not accustomed to sit and do his work on his own, it can take some effort on the parent’s part to instill that disciple. Also, since this curriculum is so simple, we as homeschooling moms can over complicate it. I have found the RC Facebook page to be extremely helpful! Connect with other RC parents and be encouraged and inspired.
  • Transitioning to essay writing. Copy work is recommended for children that are 10 years old and younger to prep them for essay writing in the RC. I love copy work, but when it comes to writing and grammar, I personally need more guidance. Not all parents need this. There are some additional resources on the RC online version but I like to use Rod & Staff English   along with copy work, before diving into essay writing. The professor K grammar that comes with RC is great but is geared toward older students. Again, this is just my personal preference. Make RC your own!
  • Children that can not read. If your child is not reading yet, he can not learn how to read on his own. You will have to teach him. The independent learning comes after a child can read very well. If you purchase this curriculum thinking it will have everything you need to teach your child to read, you may be a little disappointed. I find AlphaPhonics to be efficient for those that already have an idea of how to teach someone to read but it may not be very helpful for the new homeschooling mom. Though it doesn’t take much material at all to teach a child to read, most homeschool moms do like having something that will give them a step-by-step guide to do so. There are a glorious amount of reading resources out there. Choose what works for your child. Check out my free curriculum page for other free reading resources.
  • Preschool-2nd grade. Although I like the thought of only needing math fact flashcards and a reading program, I don’t find this curriculum to be conducive 100% on its own during the younger years. In order to close this gap, I have and am continuing to develop material to come along side RC without jeopardizing the simplicity of this fantastic curriculum. Check out my store!

Hand-Me-Down Homeschool 

Happy Schooling!

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