Ever felt like your head was spinning with all the choices you have?
When I first started homeschooling over 15 years ago, there weren’t very many curriculum choices out there. Now there is an overwhelming amount of choices for every subject you can imagine! If you’ve ever gone to a curriculum fair or sale, or even just explored online, it can make your head spin!
Although every family is different…I mean every child, I thought I’d share what curricula we have used over the years, my thoughts about them, and some favorites of friends too.
- A Beka – For kindergarten through at least 4th grade, I used A Beka for just about everything. I taught my kids the curriculum myself, and it was a great fit for my family. Yes there is a lot of busy work, but as the parent/teacher, I know what my child needs to focus on, and I made adjustments to fit each child’s needs and our schedule. Of course, the Christian perspective was a big plus!
- Sonlight – I have not used this curriculum myself, but I have heard many good things about it. It incorporates lots of great living history books into its curriculum. Because of this, I consult their book lists to find good reading material for my kids.
- Apologia – I highly recommend Apologia science! Once we found this, I stopped looking for another science curriculum. The books use such a conversational tone that makes the in depth and advanced material so easy to understand. In addition to the reading, reviews, and tests, the students also do experiments and write lab reports. We have mostly just used it for the upper sciences, but in 6th grade my daughter did use one of the upper elementary books which focuses on one specific area of science. Since she has always liked studying health, we chose Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology. She loved having a whole year to focus on the subject and enjoyed reading the textbook, doing the hands-on projects in the journal, and doing the experiments. For the upper grades, we have used the General Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Advanced Physics. My animal lover hopes to try out the Marine Biology too. We have used the textbook for some, but we have mostly used their full course cd version. They also offer the online academy. If you haven’t yet checked out Apologia, please do!
- A Beka – We used A Beka math through 7th grade. Since A Beka’s 7th grade math is so repetitious of the 6th grade math, our kids skipped it and took A Beka’s pre-algebra in 7th grade instead of 8th. I believe A Beka has a good solid math program. Again, there is a lot of busy work, but as my kids got older, I would often have them do only the odd or even numbers and skip the homework, as long as they were doing well and understanding everything.
- VideoText Algebra – When we started looking for an Algebra program for my oldest, we came across Video Text, which we read did not just show the student how to do the work but also answers why it works. That was perfect for our son who loved to know the “why” about everything! The student watches a 5-10 minute video explaining the new info for the day, and then he does the work from his workbook and checks his own work when he’s done. This was great for our self-motivated kids. They would do the odd numbers, and for each one they missed, they did an even numbered problem. There are also 2 versions of each quiz and test in case you want your child to retake one before he moves on to the next lesson. You can choose the DVD or online version. It does not have automatics grading, but it does have a great solutions manual. This course takes about 2 years to complete, BUT once completed, the student will have done Algebra I and II.
- VideoText Geometry – We then continued with Geometry, but have been very disappointed that the last module has been in production for years! My boys are 4 years apart, and neither of them have been able to use Module F yet. Since the last module has not been ready, we were instructed to do Trig for Dummies to complete the course. We weren’t as happy with that, but it seemed to work okay. We do like the actual Video Text Geometry though. According to Tom Clark, the author, once the student completes the Geometry program, which takes about 1 ½-2 years to complete, he can claim 1 credit of Geometry, ½ credit of Pre-Calculus, and ½ credit of Trigonometry.
- Teaching Textbooks – We looked into this program when we were searching for an Algebra curriculum, but their lesson approach was just not a good fit for my son. I have many friends who have used this curriculum and love it. It even has automatic grading too!
- Mystery of History – “History is my favorite subject now!” my daughter told me. What?! Really? Since my kids never really liked history, this comment was quite a surprise to me, but it came after I switched her from A Beka history to Mystery of History in 6th grade. This is another curriculum that uses a nice conversational tone and tells the common and not so common stories of history from a Christian perspective. My daughter takes 3 days a week to read from the textbook and then 2 days for maps, projects, quizzes, and tests. I also look for short video clips to enhance some of the lessons. Mystery of History can be used for all ages so that all your children can do history together if you want. Although we started it in 6th grade, I wish we had started it in 5th grade. Instead we skipped the first of the 4 books because the first one covered the same era of history that my daughter had studied the previous year. Definitely check it out!
- Switched on Schoolhouse – My boys have used this this Christian computer based high school history curriculum. Students read the textbook, answer daily questions, write essays, take quizzes and tests – all on the computer. A big plus is that the computer does most of the grading, except for longer answers and essays.
- Truthquest History – I have not yet used this, but it is on my radar for using for my daughter in another year when she enters high school. At first glance, it appears to be just a big book list for history based books, but after looking into it more, you can see that it has wonderful conversational commentaries from a Christian perspective. Read the commentaries on the various subjects, and then add in suggested books to help complete the topics. Again, I’m not 100% sure we’ll be using this, but it looks like it could be perfect for my book loving daughter!
- A Beka – Although we did not use all the A Beka subjects through high school, I have used their English curriculum all the way through high school with my oldest and felt that it gave him a very strong foundation in composition in preparation for college. Again, they do sometimes give a lot of workbook sections to do, but my kids often only do half of the work.
- Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) – I have a number of friends who recommend this program for teaching their children of all ages to write well.
- One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) – We have not yet used this, but my second son will be using it this year for high school English. In grading his English compositions last year, I noticed his creative bent toward story writing, and I thought this course, which walks the student through writing a novel, would help him develop his skill even more. He thought it sounded fun and different too! The first semester is spent studying good literature, learning the five elements of a story, developing their character and conflict, and outlining the 12 chapters of their own novel. Then, the student writes the rough draft of his novel in the second semester. We plan to also have our son read some more books from American authors so that we can count this as his American literature course.
- The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book* – This book by Guy Bailey was a GREAT resource when my kids were preschool through junior high age. Sure, we had a swing set and balls, but I wanted something more than just sending my kids out to play. The games in this book not only get your kids up and moving, but many of them also help them learn some of the skills of various sports, all with just a few kids and some basic supplies. This book helped me to get active with my 3 children, and they enjoyed taking turns picking a game from this book each day for our break time. One of our favorites was Rock Paper Scissor Tag, which has also become a favorite of the girls I teach at church on Wednesday nights!
- Family Time Fitness – I used this for a year with my 2 youngest. Each lesson includes a warm up, activity/game, cool down, and suggested outdoor activity. The lessons can be done inside and with common equipment. We thought some of the exercises were funny, but it did provide us with a nice variety of fun ways to get active.
So, is your head spinning?
Hopefully some of these descriptions will be helpful to you when you face the curriculum decision.
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If you have any questions about any of the curriculum I mentioned, please let me know in the comments below.
Also, I’d love to hear your curriculum favorites!