Frequently Asked Questions
Purchasing curricula for your homeschool can feel like a big commitment, and we understand that! You probably have some questions. We hope you find the answers to all of your questions here, and if you don't, please reach out and we will be happy to message you back as soon as possible.
Questions are organized by course. Click the course you are interested in to read the frequently asked questions for that course.
(Currently, we do not receive many inquiries about The Art Studies or The Whimsy Studies. If you have a question about either of those courses, please reach out!)
Are Idlewild courses accredited?
Homeschool curricula cannot be accredited. Accreditation is obtained by institutions, and no homeschool curricula within the U.S. is considered accredited.
If you live outside of the U.S. and need more information about what is required where you live, please research your local guidelines.
Why does Idlewild curricula look so simple? Why aren’t there more illustrations or graphics?
This is a great question – and there is an answer!
First: We want to create a learning journey for children – not just a one-time lesson. To do that, Idlewild courses purposefully drive all attention towards books! Books are powerful learning tools, and we want your children diving into amazing books, not looking at a course booklet. A course booklet will never be something a child pulls off a shelf to explore again and again, but good books will grow with them and provide excitement and interest for years. Rather than pay an illustrator to add graphics or illustrations, and then increase our prices to cover that cost, we want each family to use that money to invest in books that will bless their family for years and contribute to a culture of home learning.
Second, because part of our mission is to teach parents to homeschool while they use our courses, we focus on simplicity. Having each lesson laid out in a simple, straightforward way that is visually minimal helps parents recognize that homeschooling can also be simple and straightforward.
Adding fluffy elements that serve no real purpose conveys the idea that fluff is always needed to do things successfully, and nothing could be further from the truth. Leading parents through an organic, effortless course with no additives helps them gain confidence and reinforces the truth that you don’t need all the pretty stuff to do this! Pure, unadorned lessons with depth help parents see that they could also create their own similar lessons, using only books and their child’s enthusiasm. We hope Idlewild parents find strength and clarity through the visual simplicity of our courses.
In addition, adding illustrations and graphics would increase the cost of printing for every Idlewild family. Since many of us are homeschooling within a budget, the layout is kept simple to keep your personal printing costs down.
Your prices seem high for digital resources – why is that?
Idlewild prices reflect what you get – there is a lot there! The Organic Studies alone is 34 weeks and over 350 pages of curricula. Compared to products within the same sphere, our pricing is competitive! Another popular nature-study curricula is currently priced at $45 for 12 weeks of lessons. To purchase a similar amount of curricula from that company, you would spend $135 for 36 weeks of digital resources.
Other companies that sell courses comparable to our products will be priced at more around $50, but will include less depth and detail. Idlewild prices reflect that depth and detail.
I’m interested in your products, but I would like to see more lessons. Is that possible?
It is! Our products are shown often on our Instagram page. If you click on the highlight bubbles at the top of the Idlewild Instagram profile, you can view more in-depth previews that walk you through Whimsy, Organic, and Word Studies lessons. Find the bubble that corresponds to the course you are interested in.
Do I have to print my courses?
No, you definitely do not! If you prefer to work digitally, use a laptop or tablet while you school. Simply pull up the files and work from your screen. Printing is optional and you always get to do what works for you.
Where is the best place to print my purchased course?
There are many wonderful places to get your courses printed. It is up to you where you choose to go! You can print at home and keep your courses in a binder if you choose. We recommend printing courses to be spiral bound and given a protective cover so they last longer and are easier to work with. Idlewild partners with Humble Heart Press for our printing, and if you choose to print your Idlewild courses with them, you will receive 10% off your order! Head to our Printing page to learn more.
Organic Studies Questions
How is The Organic Studies meant to be used? Will we use it once and then never touch it again? What is your vision for how families will use it?
We hope that The Organic Studies will grow organically with your family and be a foundational resource you use for years. It is impossible to absorb and retain every bit of information it contains after the first time through. Pull it out again and again. Let it be your foundational nature studies course and it will grow beautifully with you through the years. It can be simplified for younger children, and then gone through again when they are older. You can always find more books that go deeper, or add writing assignments or research assignments for older children.
Use it to bring depth to your children’s life experiences: pull out the Ocean unit before your beach trip and review what you will be seeing at the shore.
Or after visiting a river, spend a day diving into the river lessons in the Water unit again. If after camping and stargazing you want to review stars and constellations, pull out those lessons again!
Our vision is that The Organic Studies becomes a living, breathing part of your family’s homeschool, connects you to the earth, and grounds your learning. It isn’t meant to be done once, it is meant to be used for years. We hope it is an investment for you, rather than an expense.
But how do I reuse the same curriculum over and over?
There are many ways you could adapt this for your family, but here is one example:
The first year, use The Organic Studies as it is written – go through it from beginning to end and do it all! Your child will learn a lot – and so will you!
The second year, add a different science curriculum, or topics + books, but keep using The Organic Studies as a nature study course. Choose (or let your child choose) units one at a time, and cover them more slowly – do two lessons a week. This means you will cover week-long units in two weeks. This will get you through about half of the course. Your child won’t remember everything from the first year, and will retain and gain something new while you do this.
Repeat this the third year with the units you didn’t cover in the second year. Add nature journaling and copy work about the topics for your growing writer.
The fourth year, choose five or six Organic Studies units to really dive into, and plan on spending a month on each. Begin by covering the lessons in each Organic Studies unit as they are laid out, so your child can review the main points. Then, source more in-depth books from the library (or Amazon) and go deeper.
There are many topics like birds, trees, flowers, butterflies, insects, minerals, oceans and plants that can be explored in depth. (There are over 60,000 different species of trees, and over 9,000 different species of birds! Obviously, all of these are not covered in The Organic Studies.) But you can use The Organic Studies to go further – get field guides and learn to identify what you see, now that The Organic Studies has laid the foundation for you. Pore over your Organic Studies core books. Latch onto details you might not have noticed before, and use the fascinating facts you find to provide your child with research project ideas, or to travel further down rabbit holes of discovery.
Or, after using it fully the first year, choose one continent to study each year after that, and use The Organic Studies to learn more about that continent. Use the habitat lessons that apply to areas of that continent, and then get books about the specific areas on that continent. Then start with amphibians, birds, and butterflies and caterpillars. Review the Organic Studies lessons for each topic, then get books that teach you about the specific species that live on the continent you are studying. Do the same for flowers, plants, trees, and vegetables and fruits! You could continue this for years!
You may wonder: but won’t we get bored? In our opinion, no! Real, deep learning grows like a tree - it takes time. The goal with learning isn’t to gather as many facts as possible into the basket of your mind and then move on to another topic, it is to send anchoring roots deeper each year, as branches simultaneously grow upwards. It takes constant foundational learning as well as new exploration. There is so much to learn about our natural world – it is a lifelong endeavor. In the same way that you as a parent are learning more about parenting by doing the same repetitious activities and tasks daily, and working with your children day in and day out, deep studies with our children can provide powerful learning experiences that will stick with them forever.
Do I have to use The Organic Studies units in order?
No you do not! The Organic Studies was created to be incredibly versatile, and can work for your family in whatever way you choose. You can jump around based on what you are experiencing seasonally, you can allow your children to choose the units you will cover based on interest, or any other approach. Using The Organic Studies will help you become a creator of your homeschool, not a slave of curriculum.
That being said, we do recommend that for the most part, you work through unit lessons in order (begin with lesson 1, move to lesson 2, then 3, etc.). Often units build off learned principles to provide depth and allow your learning to grow each day on what was learned the previous day. Exceptions to this would be units H, N, O, R, S and X. It would be much easier to jump around within those units if desired.
What does it mean that The Organic Studies is secular?
It means that no mention of God is made in the course writing, or the books that are utilized. Because of personal beliefs, Idlewild courses do not promote or spend time (in the course) on theories such as evolution, the Big Bang, or an earth that is millions of years old. The courses do not cover these topics or theories, but many of the books mention these subjects in passing. If you do not want these theories to be part of your homeschool, they are easy to pass over and omit while learning together. It would be impossible to find a really excellent geology or solar system book that did not make some mention of these things, and so there are places in the literature that mention or make reference to them.
As a Christian family, we have no problem with these topics coming up in our learning journey. We dissect and discuss them, while asking our children what they see and what they believe based on what they have seen in nature. We want our children to encounter these world-views in a safe, faith-based space, and to be aware of them as their faith grows. Believing in Creation takes on a whole new level of depth and meaning when you realize that not everyone believes in an all-powerful Creator.
Books utilized in The Organic Studies that mention these topics can provide us with the opportunity to solidify our faith and deepen our convictions, while developing empathy and understanding for those that believe differently than us.
If you would like to see the core books in more detail so you can make an informed decision that is right for your family, head to our Instagram page and you can see inside every core book by clicking on the “Core Books” highlight bubble at the top.
Can I see more of The Organic Studies core books before I commit?
You can! Flip-throughs of all Organic Studies core books are provided on our Instagram page. You can see inside every book by viewing the highlight bubble at the top of the page entitled “Core Books.”
We don’t live in the U.S., do I have to use the National Parks book with The Organic Studies?
No, you do not! The National Parks book provides an opportunity to explore places within the U.S. that correspond to topics that are covered, for instance: when studying volcanoes, in the National Parks book you can read about places in the U.S. with active volcanoes. When you study islands, mountains, and forests, the National Parks book provides an opportunity to look at where those habitats or landforms occur within the United States and learn more about them. If this is an aspect that you want to omit, whether you live in the US or not, please leave it out! Your homeschool experience is always in your hands.
If you live outside of the U.S., feel free to find or add resources that teach your child(ren) about the landforms and habitats near you! Personalize this experience and give your child(ren) an appreciation for their homeland and an understanding of local geography.
It says The Organic Studies can be used up to age 12, but can I use it with an older child?
That is entirely up to you! Partially, this depends on what your child has studied previously. If your child has not gone deep into nature learning thus far, The Organic Studies could be a perfect fit for them! Many parents say that they learn a lot as they work through The Organic Studies with their children. Learning happens at any age, and if your child could still benefit from learning how ocean waves form, why birds have differently-shaped feet, or what the weather is like on Venus, then this course is for them too!
We don’t live in the United States, is The Organic Studies written only for people living in North America?
It is not written only for children in North America! Many of the topics covered relate to us all, topics like: geology, habitats, oceans, zoology, fish, minerals, bird characteristics, layers of the earth, classification of plants and animals, landforms, rain, the planets of our solar system, and more.
That being said, there are sections and units that showcase and discuss more animal species found in North America. It would be impossible to write butterfly lessons for children that cover every butterfly in the world, from every habitat and continent.
There are a few units that contain information that is more relevant to those living in North America. You are welcome to swap out some of the books that are used and find your own resources that relate more closely to the floral and fauna of your location, if you so choose. In particular, the Insect Golden Guide used in the I for Insects unit, as well as the Bird Golden Guide used in the B for Birds unit are based on North American Species. Feel free to find something comparable that covers species in your area, if desired.
Other units that may touch on more North American species would include: F for Flowers, C for Caterpillars, T for Trees, and V for Vegetables and Fruits. Families on other continents may wish to find supplemental resources within these units, but of course, that is up to you.
Word Studies Questions
The course description says The Word Studies is an “add-on,” but can I use it alone, without The Organic Studies?
Absolutely! The beginning of each Word Studies lesson includes an introduction that ties into the corresponding Organic Studies lesson, but you can omit that portion and simply use the lessons however you choose. Many families use The Word Studies as a stand-alone Bible study, and you are welcome to take that route too.
Is all scripture used in The Word Studies the King James Version?
Yes it is! The King James Version of each verse is included with the course. BUT, that does not mean you have to use it! You are welcome to get your Bible out each day and use whatever translation you are most comfortable with. It will merely mean that you will need your Bible handy, in addition to the course booklet. The scripture verses provided are there to make it convenient and easy-to-use, but you always get to tailor your homeschool to fit your needs and your family’s preferences.