2012 Mid-Year Curriculum Changes

Hi everyone! I’ve had several questions from readers asking how our 2012 curriculum choices are going. I think one of the things I like most about homeschooling is the ability to be flexible and note when something is working well and when something isn’t working! That said in order to maintain my own sanity, and thus the sanity of those around me, I’ve decided to change the things that weren’t working. And while I hate to waste money, sanity is priceless, no?




Change Number 1: Saxon –> to Math U See

I said at the start of the school year that we were trying out Saxon for the first time. Well, I have to say that Saxon just wasn’t a right fit for us!  Partly because I had a hard time adjusting to teaching it, and partly because my kids just weren’t getting how they explained certain things. I found myself pulling out our Math U See blocks and trying to re-word the Saxon lessons using the Math U See principles so it made sense. After awhile of saying “remember in Math U See when we did it this way?…” I wondered why I was trying to hard to make Saxon work, when clearly MUS was what was working for us!

The other reason I originally switched to Saxon was because I thought MUS wasn’t covering some of the side subjects as well such as money, time, and measurement type of activities as well as we needed. Saxon does cover these topics well. However with the instruction time it was taking me to get through 3 different levels of math I found myself skipping some of those parts just so we could get through math and onto the rest of our day. Considering that was why I choose it to begin with, add to that the fact that I was having to re-explain the Saxon lessons so my kids could understand them, it just didn’t make much sense to keep going.

I decided it would be easier for me to add those things in on my own if needed…and so…


After about 3 months of trying desperately to make Saxon work, and me wanting to tear my hair out, I made the choice to switch back to Math U See. I have to say the first few months of school this year were H A R D. Hard, like I think I’ll stop homeschooling and ship my kids to the nearest school, HARD. The day we switched back to MUS was like smooth sailing and I’ll never look back. If I do feel free to remind me about this post ;o)

Now, let me say I’m a “finish the book” type of homeschooler, we finish what we start, and typically it’s done in one year. Starting MUS 3 mos. in means we’ll either have to continue it next year, or I’ll spend the summer making my kids do math. I’ll keep you posted on that ;o) But the amount of peace the change has brought makes it all worth it.


Change Number 2: BJU Kindergarten –>  All About Spelling + All About Reading + Abeka K

(We’ve been using AAS & AAR already, so no change there, just didn’t want you to think I stopped because NO WAY! You’d have to pry it out of my cold dead hands!)

I switched off of BJU Kindergarten just about a month into our year because I didn’t like the format of the phonics lessons. This was surprising to me because I’m still using BJU for my older kids. And I actually really like it!

The main issue for me was the BJU phonics. They are built around a family of characters that represent the vowels and consonants. They tell stories about the characters and worksheets are made using them. That said it’s really hard to get around the whole family of characters. Since we’ve been using All About Spelling Tinkerbell was confused. She didn’t understand why I was trying to explain this family and who likes to hang out with who when I could just tell her the phonics rule straight up like AAS does.

So…I stopped using BJU Kindergarten and also the phonics portion of the BJU Press English for my 2nd and 3rd graders (it’s weaved into the Reading lessons, and not hard to skip at all). And for my kindergartner, I am doing All About Spelling Level 1, and All About Reading Level 1.

I had Abeka Kindergarten already since I’ve used it previously, and so I just pulled out those workbooks and started going through their phonics lessons as well. What I’ve found is I really don’t need Abeka either, but since I had the workbooks already I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to have her doing some extra phonics and reading practice through Abeka. So for now, she just completes one of the phonics worksheets per day. I make sure to check the TM to see if there’s anything that AAS isn’t covering that might be on her worksheet, but so far that hasn’t happened. Next year I’ll probably scrap it all together, but I hate to waste a workbook!

What are we keeping? (a.k.a. What do we LOVE!)


Tinkerbell (Kindergarten)



Turbo (2nd grade) & Strawberry Shortcake (3rd Grade)


Moral of the story:

I’m sure Saxon and BJU Press Kindergarten are solid programs, They’re just not for US and that’s what matters. No homeschool family will look the same, and when you find something that works, stick with it! If it’s not working, give something else a try. You might just relieve yourself a huge amount of stress in the process!



More awesome curriculum ideas available on my website:

Letter of the Week:


K4 Curriculum:


Road Trip USA & Road Trip USA Animals!


Expedition Earth World Geography:


Expedition Earth World Animals:


World’s Greatest Artists Vol. 1



  1. We LOVE MUS!

    And thank you for reminding us all that our families are all different and therefore require different approaches. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing. I love seeing what people think of different curriculums!! And I too LOVE the flexibility. When my hubby’s job announced they could no longer roll over PTO we had 10 weeks to use up this year. So decidd to take a HUGE 4 week road trip out west – I changed around our mathc & social studies to get som history of westward expansion, gold boom, and science for grand canyon – I LOVE homeschooling!! =-)

  3. I’m interested in Speekee to use with my ds after we finish Salsa Spanish. I went to their website, but I still have a few questions. (1) How many lessons per week are there? (2) The school option (which we wouldn’t use, of course) says it can last 2 years. Is this also true of the home version? (3) Is it possible to preview it as a guest, or do I have to set up an account? We won’t need it for several months.

  4. We are enjoying your Expedition Earth and look forward to our Artist books getting here to start that one AND I think during baseball season we are going to do a focus on the Road Trip curriculum. But we are in the same boat of things not working just right for us and under some changes this month as well!!!!

  5. Katie Desjardin says:

    I have a quick question about AAS and AAR, did you start them at the same time or do you stagger the starts? if so how do you coordinate them? Thanks

    • Rebekah says:

      (from All about learning website) How do All About Reading and All About Spelling work together, and in which order should I use them?
      We recommend completing the All About Reading Pre-reading Program and All About Reading Level 1 first, and then adding in the All About Spelling program. By doing so, students will have a solid start in reading, which in turn gives them a strong basis for spelling.

      All About Spelling and All About Reading use the same sequence and the same phonograms. Both are complete phonics programs, so they are interrelated in that way. AAS teaches words from the spelling angle, while AAR teaches words from the reading angle.

      All About Reading includes decoding skills, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and lots of reading practice. It uses letter tiles just like All About Spelling does, though AAS focuses instead on encoding skills, spelling rules, and other strategies that help children become good spellers.

      Because of the way they are designed, the programs are also independent of each other so students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill. Kids generally move ahead more quickly in reading, and we don’t want to hold them back with the spelling.

  6. This is so encouraging. I always feel terrible when I decided to change curriculum mid year. I have only done it a couple times but I find myself hanging in there far too long because I feel like I need to finish it even though we are all miserable. I looked at the Spanish you use for the older 2 and I was wondering what led you to choose that over Rosetta Stone? We have been using Spanish in 10 minutes a Day which has been fun for some vocabulary but not exactly what we are looking for. It is geared more toward an adult getting ready for a trip abroad, in my opinion. Also, wanted to let you know we are LOVING Expedition Earth and just started the artist unit study and are really enjoying it as well. I recommend them both to all my homeschooling friends 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for this post! God ‘s timing is perfect! We have a little guy with some some learning challenges and we just scrapped everything yesterday and picked up/ ordered all new stuff! I was feeing so guilty about wasting the money and it feels like time wasted too (should have abandoned ship sooner). I really needed to hear that others change mid-school year and it’s OK! Blessings, Denise

  8. I have done the same thing. We started out using Calvert and switched to My Father’s World. My kids are loving school again and it’s so much easier on me.

  9. Hi Erica, I’ve recently found your site and I’m so thankful for all the things I’m learning. I’m new to homeschooling (1yr) and still learning in making our own curriculum, searching different sites for good materials that will fit us, and so many other things.Would just like to ask if you’ve encountered Charlotte Mason and My Father’s World materials. What can you say about them? Thanks.

  10. LOVED this post! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with your readers. We love hearing how things are working or not working! If you have time in the future you could share how the Family Time Fitness is working in your home. It sounds great, but would love to see it in “action”! Thanks so much Erica, and I pray God blesses the remainder of your school year!

  11. Thanks Erica for sharing your journey with all of us. We’re just starting our homeshcoolling journey with my daughter in preschool right now, it’s so nice to see what other families are using. I feel so clueless. If I can just find some great programs for our subjects I’d feel so much more confident. Your reviews have been very helpful.

  12. I’m so glad when homeschooling moms are open and honest about things working/not working for them. I have to say that I’m using Saxon Math and Saxon Phonics. (Because my husband requires we get through a level of those a year if I want to keep homeschooling). I would definitely say that Saxon is a very intense and frustrating program. I’ve been running it about a year now (tried to start mid year last year and Saxon just isn’t a good mid year starting curriculum). I was so ready to give up and take the fight on with my husband because I couldn’t figure out how I’m going to run 4 different saxon programs (2 for phonics and 2 for math) for next year. I was thinking we’d never have any time to do any of the “fun” stuff. Then all of a sudden my older son had one of those aha moments and everything fell in to place. Now I’m making up all the time that I missed in the beginning trying to figure out how I could possibly go on when he just didn’t get the concepts. What was taking me and him 45-minutes to an hour to complete a lesson. I did a math and two phonics today in a half hour because everything is just clicking for him now. I also think that I’m not going to run 4 different saxons next year. I’m going to wait an extra year to officially do them with my younger one. I think they are going to be easier to run with my younger one because he’s used to the language of them from listening in now. I also think they will be easier because I will have run them before and know what to expect/plan.

  13. Thanks for sharing! We love your preschool printables. I have a question about Road Trip USA. What is the age range for that?

  14. This is my first year usingSaxon math. I love how it explains concepts but I don’t like the amount of time required. I have not found something that I like that does not take as long. (sigh) Way to go, that you found something that feels right. I am also a person that believes we must finish the book and whatever we don’t finish will carry over into the next year. (Type A personality)

    PS. I wanted to thank you for posting your meal plan calander I am now using a mix of your calander for my meal planning. It has helped me so much.

  15. I love the flexibility of changing curriculums that don’t work right for our family. Alyssa REALLY enjoys Math U See Primer and All About Spelling. I have been wanting to take a look at your World’s Greatest Artist Study Volume 1. Thank you for reminding me. LOL!

  16. I had a hard time deciding on a math curriculum, but after 2 of my homeschooling friends started MathUSee and getting a first hand look at the books, etc.. We got it and I love it! My 3 year old is working on the Primer, just started the addition portion (sob) and asks to do math almost every morning! My 5 year old is on Alpha and loves the songs for skip counting and addition. Now we listen to the CD whenever we are in the car! I do agree on the money/Time issues, but I ordered a couple of small workbooks on each from a neighbor child doing a school fund raiser (win/win) and added in some of the David Ramsey Teaching for Financial Peace. But, I agree. You must shop around and find out what is best for you and your family.

  17. We are also going to start Roadmap USA and the Greatest Artists Curriculum next year after we have had a chance to settle into a routine with the new baby… We decided math is pretty easy to continue and they are doing science, which includes Language Arts over at a neighbors who is also a homeschooler, but adding new curriculum is not feasible right now. I really love your ideas Erica and am jealous of your homeschool space with all the shelving for boxes etc!

  18. Awesome post. And thanks for giving me lots to think about. Right now I have a 2nd grader and a Pre-K’r, and I’ve often thought how I would be able to swing Saxon once we have two doing it, but since my son learns in a completely different way than my daughter I’m already thinking of something else in that route for math and most likely any spelling (we have saxon for her also, we tried AAS for her, but she wanted worksheets, but I’ve kept it since I think it’ll be great for my son.) Thanks again!

  19. I switched my 6th grader from Saxton to Teaching Textbooks and switched my 2nd grader from ABeka phonics to AAS. Boy, has this made a world of difference!! Being my first year homeschooling I am learning early how my kids function. I also ‘set up’ a work area for the kids (just last week) and I’m finding they like that better than their individual desks. It’s been great fun!

  20. I too didn’t like Saxon with my younger ones, it didn’t seem like a good fit and we did Math-U-See. I loved it and I just supplimented with money and time workbooks from the store. But after about 4th grade, I didn’t like the MUS anymore and returned to Saxon where it seemed to fit much better than before.

  21. We have also stuck with Math U See (we are in Epsilon) and use Math on the Level for the a-bit-byond-the-basic-operations teachings (money, time, measurement.)–such creative teaching ideas! For easy, inexpensive worksheets, we use Mammoth Math books that are downloadable e-books and completely written to the student.

    Just a tip you may already know! fyi!

    Thanks for the Tiny Tot Tuesdays: I use them every week!!

  22. OH! May I ask if you have a plan for beyond Write-Shop? After 4th grade? We have been struggling to find a great middle school writing program.


  23. Thanks for this post!!! I needed to be reassured. SIGH. Burnt out on our current curriculum, and last night I was actually on your blog looking at what curriculum you use. You see, I WANT to piece together what I like, but I am AFRAID to do that, and have settled for a complete curriculum the past two years. I’m ready to order AAS and AAR if I don’t win it (really wish I would). However, I already own Spell to Write and Read which is supposedly similar, but I hear a bit more complete and of course requires a ton of planning. Anyone reading this who has input on both, please let me know! I really am leaning towards AAS and AAR. And the Grapevine studies…like what I saw on their website! And lastly, I have a question about the Family Time Fitness…looked at their website too for a while last night. Is it really worth the $99? I’m just afraid to spend that much money and then not ever use it since it’s not a tangible item (such as a treadmil, jumprope, etc.). I really want to start a daily P.E. chunk of time within our schooltime, but I need some ideas as I am not super creative! LOL

  24. I used My Father’s World and Math-U-See for kindergarten and was pretty happy but had to supplement a lot to get all of the components that I personally wanted (science, more art, phonics). That is how I found your blog.

    This year I continued with Math-U-See and am adding info for money, time, and measurements from Math Mammoth.

    Love the All About Spelling and am using Sonlight’s Reading/Language Arts curricula and he loves it.

    Now, I am struggling with handwriting and am searching for a better and more enriching option.

    We have learned a lot about the countries using Expedition Earth, but he is not loving it the way mom is.

    We have downloaded the lessons to sample for the Family Fitness but I have not ordered the program because he takes karate class at 4 pm.

    When I can get my four year old twins in the room and listening, we love your printables. Thanks for all you do and recommend.

    We just got the Logic Links and he loves to find those in his drawer, along with Spot It. You have really helped me get this and feel good about what my family is learning.

  25. Is AAS and AAR a complete phonics program? Do I need to look into Abeka as well?

    • Oh my goodness, no! I just had it from before, so I added it in so as not to waste! I prefer AAS and AAR better!


  26. Kelly Girl says:

    Hey Erica. Do you recommend using both All About Spelling AND All About Reading? My son (6yrs) is in K and we are currently using AAS. I LOVE this curriculum! He is doing great but does not enjoy reading. I’ve browsed over the AAR via their website but the sample pages seem to overlap what we are already doing in the spelling program. Does the reading curriculum teach different concepts from spelling? Do you think it’s necessary to have both? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  27. I love your website – awesome information! Gives me encouragement to keep going. Here is my question – Do you do phonics, spelling, math, language arts, typing, history, spanish, science, etc everyday? How long is your typical school day? Just curious! Thanks and God Bless!

  28. After struggling to find a way to help my oldest child (I tried out so many different curriculum) that the way BJU taught the word families in K5 was a blessing. It also helps that my youngest seems to be a natural reader. He has picked up the lessons so fast we are half way through the year and he is finished! He also go tired of me trying to read the characters and tell him who does what with whom, etc. So we skip it. My oldest had a Eureka moment when listening in to how my youngest practiced the word families. I always heard about “All About Spelling/Reading” but never tried them (its one of the few we haven’t tried). Having a program that is easy for mom to teach is huge! We have tried a couple things that I just couldn’t make it through another day with it. We are checking out your USA Road Trip, thanks for offering it!

  29. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I have really enjoyed reading it! Especially the house rules. We are totally starting that this week! As I read about your curriculum changes I chuckled at the math section as our story is exactly opposite yours! Thank you for sharing, and my God bless you!

  30. Do you create the curriculum you sell yourself? I LOVE all of it and was just wondering how you go about creating such in depth, informative and FUN curriculum. Thank you for being such a blessing to so many homeschool families Erica!

  31. BJU press does look like it has a solid curriculum, but I am wondering how to get around the modern handwriting style???? As a former kindergarten teacher in a public school system that used D’Nealian handwriting, I found that children confused the lowercase letter “l” with a capital “J,” and a capital “E” with a number “3.” My children have been taught traditional manuscript writing in private school, and now that I have pulled them out to homeschool them, I hate to turn everything upside down on them! Even my preschooler has already been taught manuscript. Although he has one more year before kindergarten, I don’t want to switch his handwriting program. How are you working around that with your older kids? I’d like to use the BJU press for some of our curriculum, but just wish they’d use a traditional print in their workbooks!

    • I don’t use their handwriting, I use A Reason for Handwriting. I only use BJU this year for English and Reading, none of the D’Nealian handwriting is in that so it’s not an issue.

  32. Hello, I am a tad bit late on this thread but wanted to add what I have discovered on the MUS /Saxon Math topic. I have been schooling my children for 8 years ( Son 9th grade, daughter 6th grade and tiny tot is 2 yrs old). We used MUS every year, loving it and feeling confident we were mastering everything. I enrolled my son into a math class for homeschoolers and in the 8th grade level discovered we had (still have) HUGE gaps in his math skills from MUS. While I love MUS and will use it with my tot however, I will not use it past 3/4th grade. My son has struggled and been so discouraged and quite frankly, MUS allowed him to feel so confident that now that he is working through his gaps with Saxon… he is frustrated that I did not switch him away from MUS. So… keep in mind for those upper levels of math.

  33. What a nice site you have!! I just digressed from reading your info on blogging. I hope you post more helpful tips as I have only been blogging since last August.

    I am leaving a comment because I want to encourage you. I have homeschooled for 25+ years (forgot how many) and we used MUS for years. I did the same thing as you by switching to Saxon for two years with my older two and then my younger five for another two years later. It was terrible!!!! MUS has improved over the years in the layout of their textbooks. It is such a wonderful curriculum especially for younger and middle children. We used it through Algebra.

  34. The greatest thing about MUS is that you don’t have to do every page! What we do is: watch the lesson, do page A, score page A. If there are errors, they fix them, and then the do B the next day. If there were no errors on page A, the following day they take the test on that lesson and the day after, they watch the next lesson and do page A.

  35. I am looking to get A Reason for Handwriting for the first time for my first grader. I just checked out the website and I see there is a Teacher Guidebook. Is that necessary? Or what all do you buy from them for handwriting, just the student book? TIA!

  36. I have been debating between BJU Reading and All About Reading. Now after seeing what you shared with your kind. daughter, I am wondering if I should lean towards AAR, because we are for sure doing AAS. Thoughts? Are you keeping her with AAR or will you switch her to BJU Reading this next year?

    Another question – with me ordering both AAS & AAR, do I order divider cards for both or are they the same?


  37. I’m curious about your ABeka Phonics curriculum for Tinkerbell. From what I’ve gathered it seems as though ABeka groups Phonics in with Reading and Writing. How do you do just Phonics?

    I’m interested because I want to use AAR and AAS with my almost-kindergartener, but I do like ABeka’s phonics system. I thought I was going to have to choose one or the other.

  38. Aditty Stebbins says:

    Hi Erica,
    I was just wondering with the curriculums you purchase do you also purchase the teachers manual or only on some of them? And if so which ones do you purchase? With your bible study what books do you use for Tinkerbell? I went online and notice there are quite a few.
    I’m new and as horrible as it sounds I’m going to use your curriculum for Tinkerbell for this year since I have no clue what I would purchase. So I’m using it as my guideline. BTW, Im also going to purchase your Kindergarten curriculum so how would you incorporate it with the english curriculum. Thank you!

  39. you know We are so much enjoying your this Expedition Earth and your books here really i have started . I really needed to hear that others change mid-school year and i also think that I’m not going to run 4 different saxons next year.
    Math Practice Test | 5th Grade Math Practice

  40. Kimberly says:

    Kumon books fill in GREAT for time, money and measurments. EASY EASY EASY !!! The age range on the book may be lower then your child but these are great to fill in Math U see.

Speak Your Mind