We have used some textbooks and non-literature based curricula over the years especially with the high school sciences. Most curricula come with vocabulary lists, worksheets/workbooks, end of chapter/lesson review questions, quizzes, tests, etc.

  • What we typically do is notebook each lesson's concepts after a period of reading (sometimes every day, maybe after a certain # of pages or days, etc.).

  • If the curricula comes with a vocab list, I may tell the kids they need to include some of these words in their notebooking either in their writing or with an illustration if that makes more sense.

  • We will use the worksheets/workbooks, end of chapter/lesson review questions as a way to ORALLY test comprehension and/or for discussion starters.

  • At the end of a chapter, I have the kids review the curriculum's chapter review to see what "holes" they may in their notebooks according to what the author thought were important concepts. These may have been concepts that the kids found easy, so they skipped them in their notebooking. If, however, it is something that I or they feel they should include, then they will add more content to their notebook.

Finding the balance of what to add or not to add is up to your family's personal goals for the curriculum. Regarding tests, that's also a personal choice. In high school, I will often have them take the test just for the sake of practicing test taking and to maybe give them a "grade" for their records. Again, that's all up to you. I sometimes do and sometimes don't.

What I have found is that if we do NOT notebook these studies, the kids fly threw them, do well on all of the curriculum's resources, but forget what was learned a short time later. If we notebook the study, they are more engaged with the study and they remember more. All of my kids will tell you that even though notebooking may require more "work" (thinking!) than the provided worksheets/workbooks/etc., they prefer to put the time in and learn something rather than just doing the work to be doing the work.