Homeschool English & Grammar Curriculum Forum



Hi everyone! Welcome to day 3 of my homeschool curriculum forum/discussion series. Today we’re going to be talking about English & Grammar.

I have to admit this is always one of my hardest subjects to finalize when picking curriculum. For the most part I am happy using Abeka phonics for the earlier years, but when it comes to 3rd grade and up I’ve been wavering. For the last two years we’ve been using BJU Press English & Grammar. I started this in 3rd grade and had planned to stick with it for future grades.

While that is still my plan, I’m not totally in love with this curriculum. I’ve just been sticking with it because it’s “okay”. The pages are colorful which is nice for visual learners, and the daily lessons are nicely outlined at the top of the student worksheets which I also find helpful. You do need the Teacher’s Manual in my opinion for this curriculum as there are more examples and help for the student in the TM. The TM also includes a smaller duplicate of the student workpage but also includes the answers as well which is helpful.



  • Fairly thorough and straight forward
  • Colorful worksheets
  • Student workbook answers are in the teacher’s manual.


  • Can be pricey unless you buy used.

I have looked into Abeka, Rod & Staff English, as well as Shurley English, and Easy Grammar but haven’t been brave enough to try any of them as of yet haha!

So for lack of wanting to change I’m currently planning to stick with BJU English. While BJU English isn’t a bad curriculum at all, it’s just that I don’t feel my kids are really “getting” English. I am also not a huge fan of the writing, so we use something else for that, but we’ll tackle that in the writing curriculum post coming soon.

If you all have experience with any of these or a favorite one I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


So, now comes the fun part!

What are your favorite English curriculum, resources, websites, etc? Leave a comment below discussing your choices for this year and why.

Feel free to ask questions or reply to each other too!

It’s my way of doing a forum without actually doing a forum haha!

And hopefully this will help us all as we start the process of researching curriculum, and trying to decide what will be the best fit for our homeschool.

Note: Please keep today’s conversations geared towards ENGLISH & GRAMMAR, I will be posting one for each subject separately so we can keep our comments organized.

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post, I may however be affiliated with one or more products mentioned. The opinions expressed in this post were not influenced by the company. They are products I have used and felt like sharing, cuz’ it’s my blog and I can if I want to.

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  1. Haha! I am so glad I am not the only one that struggles with this. Grammar was the hardest to solidify until we found analytical grammar. We enjoy it even though it isn’t super colorful. I am a math and science gal so I always seem to second guess myself with the English/ grammar subject.

    • I am so with you. I am a math and science gal too, so really struggle with this part of choosing. I used sonlight, and wasn’t crazy about it. I used first language lessons this year, which has been fine, but I want something a little more hands workbook style for next year. My will be 3rd grader loves workbooks. I may stick with FLL because I am big on the classical approach of memory, but want some hands on workbooks that help reinforce concepts that she can do on her own. Any thoughts on something that goes well with FLL? And at the 3rd grade level what components of Language arts do I need to make sure we cover? This is why I like a complete package.

      • Alexis Rebman says:

        If I am not mistaken FLL has a workbook beginning at level 3. Their writing curriculum also complements well with the grammar lessons.

      • I LOVE First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind!!!!!! Love Love Love!!!!! I use it with the work book and I use her writing curriculum too. I also use her phonics program which I also Love love love!!!!! It’s by Susan and Jessie wise baurer. The phonics one is called……I think it’s…..Original Parents Guide to Teaching Reading…..or something like that, and it’s not just a guide, it’s a full on curriculum and it’s AMAZING, not colorful AT ALL, but there are good reasons for that. Kids don’t need a picture of an apple to remember the sound that an A makes. They might need that if they are in a classroom of 30 kids to one teacher, but thats not the case with us homeschoolers! They will become much fluent readers if they learn to read black and white with out all the cheaters. BTW, this is my 3rd year of homeschooling, I have tried many curriculums out and done a TON of research, I have 8 kids and baby #9 is due in 4 weeks :-)

        • I also use First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease. Some find the curriculums “dry” , which sometimes they are, so if I feel like it will help, I use a whiteboard to make things a little more visual…I have not yet dived into Level 3 of FLL, so I don’t know what those lessons are like, but so far, I love the lesson layout of the first two levels. I just started WWE this year with my two oldest (ages 8 and 9) and I love that it’s simple and corresponds directly with FLL. Very nice to not have to make the connections myself. We are not too far into the writing curriculum, but so far I enjoy its simplicity for lesson planning!

          For reading, I teach my children to read from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Another “dry” program — but it totally works!!! I have had my kids read the 20 books suggested at the end of the program and present them the way the author suggests. My two oldest read above grade level and are very fluent.

          I happen to love English as a subject, so finding what works for my style of teaching and my kids’ way of learning was a lot of fun for me. :)

          • tiffany Johnson says:

            I also use FLL and WWE with my 1st and 2nd graders and I really like them. They are simple, straight forward and don’t take a huge amount of time to complete. My kids do get a little frustrated at having to repeat the definitions so many times, but they both know what a noun, adjective, verb etc. are :-)

        • We just started First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind and I am loving it! We also use Sequential Spelling and LOVE it! My kids are Kindergarten and First Grade, but I have been searching for a couple of years for something grammatical that I liked. Grammar and Geography were always my worst 2 subjects, so I needed something to pick up the slack…

      • We use FLL & WWE too! However I combine with BJU English. We like the color and ease. But it is not “deep” enough sometimes so that is where incorporate FLL & WWE

      • We have been using Surley English for two years now. When I first got the order in the mail I was completely overwhelmed with all the components, however, after a few weeks of using, everyone got in the routine. I teach my 2nd, 4th and 5th out of the same book and everyone seems to be understanding and learning. It has a lot of repetition and the jingles help with memorization. It seems like a scary curriculum to take on but it works! It is also a choice of most our local classical Christian schools in town (if that’s your style). I have reviewed some of the “language lessons for the elementary child” and would love some feedback on those if anyone has any. I like the idea of the Charlotte Mason approach for the younger kiddos.

    • I would really like to know more about Analytical Grammar. I have looked at it and I’m considering it for my daughter who is going into grade 8. I have been doing BJU English and grammar with my older kids only because I like the structure of it, but I find it very in depth and wonder how practical what they are learning is going to be for them in the future. If you can give me an idea of pros and cons of Analytical Grammar and how you go about, I would appreciate it.

      • We have made it a little over halfway throughJr. AG. While my kids don’t love it, they’re learning. It can be a little plain and dry (black and white) but it teaches grammer in an orderly fashion. My 12 and 14 year olds learned the material solidly. I definitely would recommend it. We are taking a small break to prepare for starting Robinson Curriculum in a week or two. I will probably integrate AG into this once we grow accustomed to this new learning style.

    • Phyllis Bennett says:

      I have been using Shurley English with both of my boys and I put them in the same level 6 (home school edition) She has them do a lot of writing but the teacher’s manual explains everything. At first I thought she had OCD but after 5 chapters I got it and everything made sense. She brings everything together in grammar to one complete whole. You can buy used materials on Amazon etc. but you probably already know that. My boys are behind in writing and Shurley gave them much practice. I plan to used level 7 this year.

  2. We use Rod & Staff. And at this time, I would not change our decision. We have completed grade 2 (Preparing to Build), and we are working on grade 3.

    Cons: It doesn’t have a lot of “fluff” – very straight forward and matter of fact. I feel, however, that it provides a good base for grammar eduction. The illustrations are in B&W, are old fashioned and depicts farm life. Sometimes the practice and assignments feel like busy work, but we easily rectify that by doing just the odd numbers or the even numbers. In my opinion, grammar will never be enjoyable, so this curricula is one way to just check the box and move on. My DD, aged 8, mostly enjoys it and finishes quickly without complaints. DD works mostly independent, after we discuss the learning point for the day. So, if you are looking for a grammar curricula that is mostly independent work, I haven’t found R&S to be so.

    Pros: Inexpensive! For the grade 3 (Beginning Wisely), the cost was only $31. That includes the textbook, teacher’s textbook, worksheet packet, and test packet. Also, another reason we chose R&S, is the fact that almost all of the sentences and grammar examples are based on Biblical persons or scripture. So, I’m never worried about the content presented.

    I highly recommend R&S for a child who doesn’t need color illustrations and doesn’t mind, at times, the no fluff approach!

    • I have used Rod and Staff from 2nd grade and will be starting 5th grade this year. I agree that there is no fluff, but wow does it do a good job. I have two boys that I’m teaching at the same grade level; one kind of struggles in this area. I sit down and do it orally with them, and then usually require part of the lesson for them to write down. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time. The first couple of years I wasn’t sure how much they were remembering it because of how much English covers, but we stuck with it, and it has sure paid off. I don’t even think about changing curriculum in this area. There might be something more fun out there, but I’m so confident in this that I don’t waste my time looking for something else out there. Also, for writing, I use Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I don’t rely on Rod and Staff for this. I wasn’t so sure about this at first, but with my two boys who HATE to write anything it has sure made it a lot less painful. Over time I’ve really noticed the difference. It still isn’t their favorite subject, but I’m no longer having serious fights about it! Well worth the investment.

      • Rebecca Ray says:

        Can you help give me feedback on how to select the level for IEW? I have a rising 5th grader. I also have a rising 3rd grader but was planning to hold off for him.

        • Jamie Reinhold says:

          You can go on their website under “Where to Start” and their catalog also has a flow chart that shows you.

    • I second the opinion for R&S – it is rigorous, straightforward, and non-fluffy. We used Shurley English for two years and *hated* it. In the TM, I would have to read about 10 pages which were scripted out for me before I could get what the lesson was about, but it was so “spiraly” that it never felt like we were making much progress. R&S definitely has more of a “mastery approach” feel to it. We focus on Verbs, Nouns, etc. one at a time and get really proficient in those before moving on. Then we go deeper each year. Also, R&S ends in 10th grade as it’s a Mennonite curriculum and they don’t generally do high school after 10th grade. That said, it means that R&S moves through concepts quickly and expects quite a bit of students earlier. Everywhere I look, it’s said that R&S is one of the most rigorous grammar programs you can buy – but DONE by 10th grade!!! I must say I was slightly shocked that we are diagramming sentences in the 3rd grade, but my girls have stayed on pace, so I guess it’s not that big a deal! We use IEW for writing and won’t be switching that any time soon. We LOVE Mr. Pudewa and his quirky seminars.

    • Robyn Foster says:

      I am another fan of R&S English. We’ve gone through their 2nd and 4th grade books. It is very “old-school” grammar, the type of grammar my mother taught as an English teacher 20 years ago. It is such a solid foundation. It builds on itself really well, year to year and throughout each unit, and while sometimes it can be a little confusing with its examples (such as referencing Elder So-and-So or etc. since it’s a Mennonite-based curriculum), as a whole, we LOVE it, and have no intention of changing it anytime soon. Oh, and I second the gloriously low price-point as a huge PRO!

      • I’m leaning towards using R&S next year with my 3rd grader. I noticed a lot of the replies also used another writing program, does R&S not include that?

        • I am considering R&S for my 8 and 10 year old next year. Do you thing we should start with the 2nd grade book because it’s first and we haven’t done much grammar yet? Or is it easy to jump into at “grade level”?

          • I too got a bit “itching for a change” when we hit Abeka 3rd grade. It was overkill for an overworked momma! And my students were a bit bored… too much repeat not enough “guts” for learning progression. We switched to Rod and Staff and loved it! Suscint, informative, enough repitition to get it but not so much that it didn’t move forward at a good clip.

            Then I began to attend the Essentials portion of our homeschool group (Classical Conversations). Um, LOVE at first lesson! I could co-teach my first -sixth graders at the same time and EVERYONE got a ton out of it! I have prolific writers and an 8 yr old that functions on about a 5th/6th grade level most of the time. My now 14 yr old just wrote a wonderful story- from his imagination- that was 6 well written pages and his research reports are just as well written. If you have a CC group near you, I highly recommend that you check it out.

            It is the best curriculum I’ve seen. It is non-consumable with a ton of replicatable handouts but best of all, you can use whatever you are reading for science/history/fun and apply the grammar lesson of the week! Your students will be diagramminjg the Declaration of Independance before you know it…. and identifying all of it’s gramatical parts and pieces too! It makes learning as a family fun.

            It’s afforable too, considering.

          • I’ve heard where if you haven’t used R&S staff before you should start with 2. They said there is a huge jump from 2 to 3. So, I got 2 for my 3rd grader to start in the fall. We will see how it goes. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews about R&S. I got mine on ebay (teacher’s manual and student book) for $19 :)

  3. I started with First Language Lessons. But my eldest thought that the repetition was really annoying. She memorizes things very quickly and then becomes impatient if you ask her to repeat it. She has the same grievance with math… review is torture to her, but without it she does forget! Anyway, I was a new homeschooler and I thought maybe it was the presentation of the material that was the problem. So, the next year we tried English for the Thoughtful Child. The lessons were similar, but not so repetitive. However, it was simply not challenging enough for her in my opinion. And she didn’t like it any better, in fact, I think less since I asked her to work on it independently much of the time. So, this year, we went back to First Language Lessons. Level 3 is no joke. She still gets annoyed with some of the repetition, but it really does help drill the information into her head. And the material is now more challenging, so it’s not quite as “boring”. (her words!) I’m pretty certain that this child will not like this subject no matter what curriculum I found. It’s just not her thing. She’s into big ideas and big gestures, details like grammar? Not her thing! So, I’m sticking with what I feel is both the least painful (quick lessons) and at the same time is quite academically sound.

    My first grader is doing level 1 of FLL. She enjoys it. She doesn’t mind the repetition. But she’s also far more patient and happy with schoolwork in general.

    I am happy with FLL, because they really learn the material. It’s short and simple, while being academically challenging. And there is ZERO prep time for me!

    • We use FLL too and love it. It is actually my kids favorite subject ever since we switched to FLL :o)

    • I had planned on using English for the thoughtful child next year with my third grader, what grade did you daughter use it?

      • This is our first year homeschooling and I’m using English for the thoughtful child for my 3rd and 4th grade kids. I have mixed feelings on this curriculum. I do like how it introduces something, and then changes up the lessons. So they will work a day or two on proper nouns, then the next assignment is copying a poem and memorizing it, then the next assignment is looking at a picture and writing a story about it. All the photos and some of the words are old fashioned which I thought would be good for them but they discount the quality of the information because this is just ‘old and boring’. I debated on switching mid year, but decided it did cover quite a bit and did have a little more variety than the same worksheet style lesson after lesson as in many other currics. My main concern has been that I don’t feel like they are learning enough, and improving enough after using it a year.
        I’m considering using ESSENTIALS IN WRITING for next school year. This covers grammar etc. but focuses a lot on writing which I feel is one of the most important skills. The website does not specify that it is christian based but I read the teacher mentions church and christian things. It is a DVD of a teacher teaching the concept for about 15 min. and then the assignments. There is also a grading rubric for the parents as a guide which I love. Lastly I love that it was only $$40.

    • I have used FLL for the last two years with my daughters, grade 2/3. We have enjoyed it and now I am torn whether to continue with it and add in other LA or move to a whole curriculum like Learning Language Arts through Literature. Nice to see what other people are using.

    • My daughter will be in 4th grade next year and we used BJU:English this year and loved it! But as I looked into FLL I really want to switch over to that next year. Any advice on where to start her at if we switch over. BJU is nice because there is not a lot of prep, and it explains everything rather simply. But I am not thrilled with the writing aspect of the BJU English curriculum. So I was looking into others, and I really like a Well Trained Mind curriculum for writing and Language arts. Any advice would be great! Thanks

      • If your child is truly in her traditional grade level then you can get that level workbook w/ FLL and she will be fine. So a 4th grader would be on Level 4.

  4. I recommend LLATL (Learning Language Arts through Literature) by Common Sense Press. The student and teacher book can also be bought as e-books, which saves money and there is various readers that goes with the books.

    • tiffany Johnson says:

      I have used LLATL with my oldest daughter since kindergarten and she and I really like it. It seems to cover everything she needs to know and is short to the point lessons. She has enjoyed the little projects that they have her do. Just this week she made and illustrated her own book of her favorite poems. She is on the orange book this year and I like that it has several book studies in the curriculum this year as well.

  5. I have been using Abeka. I love Abeka but wanted to venture out this year so I am using Language Smarts
    And Word Fun. I have also added 6 Daily Trait writing. This is all for second grade. Thanks for doing this “forum”!! I really like to see others opinions.

  6. Grammar has been a really hard subject for me to find something I like. I want memory and practice, so I put something together myself. I typed up grammar rules for memory work that my son reads 2 times a week and he does a worksheet from a grammar workbook called the Complete Book of Grammar. I got the grammar rules from Harvey’s Elementary Grammar.

  7. We use Easy Grammar for our 4th grader and LOVE it! It is really comprehensive in hitting all the areas of grammar and how to weed out the prepositions so the other parts of a sentence stand out. The only repetitive reviewing is at the end of each unit, you have a cummulative review and a cummulative test so my son really enjoys the challenge of proving that he can remember everything he has learned. For writing, we’re in another country so he does a variety of handwritten letters and e-mails to all our loved ones back in the states. He also has a journal to keep track of all the places we visit, and he enjoys writing and illustrating short stories.

  8. We are using Language Lessons for the Elementary child by Queen Homeschool, and my 8 year old LOVES it! So much that she has asked to do book #2 next year. They do not have a book for each year, so we will probably change to Easy Grammar after next school year.

  9. We use Christian Light Education for Language Arts. My kids like the workbooks and the price isn’t bad either. No fluff and it is spiral based. The company is wonderful to work with. I also really love the Yahoo Group and the Facebook Group for those of us using this company. CLE is Mennonite.

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      Thanks for this! I am considering supplementing with some CLE for my kids: using the Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts. We do a literature-based study as a family that includes all those subjects, but they need more to do on their own. I have been impressed with the samples I’ve seen, and the price is good, too!

  10. We have been using ABeka. The kids have an awesome grasp of English and I find it easy to use.

  11. My children enjoy Editor in Chief by Critical Thinking Company. We use several of their books and really enjoy them. Rod and Staff is great curriculum but not enjoyable for the children, at least not mine anyways, but it is an excellent curriculum.

    • Also I forgot to mention in addition to the grammar lessons I have my children write a page a day. They can write about anything they want, in the early years, but they just have to write. Once they complete the page I go through and critique for any errors and then have them go back and fix them. This technique has really excelled their writing and grammar. I also found having them read great literature from earlier time periods also has helped their writing :)

  12. We use Heart of Dakota Language. Not very pricey and we love it. It has tests and worksheets included in the teachers manual too.

    • Hi Jill,

      I was just looking at Heart of Dakota and wondered who out there was using it, and what they thought about the program. I have a 9 year old and 5 year old who I was thinking of switching over to it, but would like a “review” of the program, pros and cons. I also have a soon to be 3 year old who could jump in too soon. :o)

      For English right now, we are using ACE English and Climbing to Good English.
      I have never used R&S English, but know friends who have. For the most part they like it.

      Also, are you using the Singapore math that they suggest or do you do something different?

      Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated!!

      Thanks so much!

      • I too am looking into Heart of Dakota for my 3rd grader and kindergartener. I went ahead and got Rod & Staff 2 for 3rd grade used on ebay and will probably do Teaching Textbooks for Math. I am not sure if I will do Singapore for the Kindergartener or not. But, I am really excited about Heart of Dakota. I especially love the Teacher’s manual and how it puts each subject in a little box and you see exactly what you need to do for the day. I need something laid out like that for me! :)

        • I used Heart of Dakota for the first time this past year with my 1st grader. I was looking into using My Father’s World, but I found Heart of Dakota and preferred it. I LOVE it and am going to continue with it next year. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you have, I would love to share our experience with the curriculum if it would help! In 1st grade, you do not do a separate grammar program- they just have it included. But next year for 2nd grade they suggest using Rod and Staff. I did use a little of the IEW PAL writing program for 1st grade which has some grammar and very beginning writing.

      • I’ve been using HOD for 2 years now. I don’t have anything to compare it to since it’s all I’ve ever used (1st and 2nd grade). I really love how it’s all laid out. People really seem to love it. The only con I have is that it’s a newer program and doesn’t have any stats on how students score on SATs after using the program. I’m not sure I love Singapore Math though. My daughter is having a tough time with some of it. I may sub a different math next year. Overall, I highly recommend it!

  13. Institute for Excellence in Writing is my ultimate favorite curriculum! Not only does it teach effective writing skills, but it teaches grammar in the most natural way … in the context of writing! :-) I am an accredited instructor and teach this class to students as young as age 9 in our home school group and through CurrClick. Kids (especially boys) who hated writing suddenly don’t anymore because of IEW! HIGHLY recommended course and worth every penny! Thanks for your great blog, Erica! Been following you for many years. :-)

    • Do you use anything other than IEW for grammar? I am currently using FLL 3. We used FLL 1 & 2 prior to this year. FLL3 is heavily into diagramming sentences, but as I have not used anything else I don’t know if this is usual for 3rd grade. It is painless as far as short lessons, but I keep wanting something different. There is so much to choose from, but I have heard a lot of good things about IEW. I only thought of it as a writing curriculum though.

      • I do use “Daily Grams” for my own children at home for extra grammar practice, but it isn’t really necessary because they receive all their grammar through writing. Punctuation and capitalization, parts of speech, and word usage/agreement are all learned through trial and error in the students’ writing assignments. It is a natural way to learn grammar. (I do think diagramming in 3rd grade is a bit early.)

        I am offering a sample class next Friday, 4/19, if you would like to learn more about the process. http://www.currclick.com/product/78369/Institute-for-Excellence-in-Writing-%28IEW%29-BEGINNING-WRITING-Sample-Class

        God bless!

        • IEW’s “Fix-It” is like Daily Grams on a paragraph level, and it reinforces IEW stylistic techniques as well. I also use this with my children, but I cannot fit it into my online classes.

  14. I’m using Voyages in English this year for my 3rd grader. It is a combined program of grammar and writing in the same book,but the lessons are separate. It looks like a typical public school type of textbook. I used FLL for grades 1 and 2.

    • We use Voyages in English as well. This is our 3rd year using it and I just really love it.

      • When I was a school teacher we used Voyages in English. Like all programs it has pros and cons, but overall we really enjoyed using the program. The lesson plans and units were planned well (and there are lots of extra ideas included), and the students enjoyed the program (they also enjoyed that the program is colorful… more appealing to them). You do need the teacher manual and student work book. I’m not sure how much the program costs (I was a school teacher at the time), but when I teach my own children I will most likely pay whatever I have to pay (within reason) to use this program – I’m familiar with it and it works well.

  15. For us nothing has been better for grammar than KISS grammar- and it is free! http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/KISS.htm. We also use IEW’s Fix-it for editing practice. For writing we use a combo of WWE and IEW.

  16. We have always used ABeka and this year I wanted to do something different and I started using BJU, but half way through this year I went back to ABeka, I just like the program, and the kids do also. With BJU all the little people they use to explain things confused me and my kids so I just went back to what they were used to :)

  17. I use JacKris Publishing. It is very affordable and in 3rd grade start diagramming. They have books for grammar, spelling and writing through 8th grade.

  18. We use BJU for K and 1st this year. We really like it, my kids love the colorful pages and characters they use. They also do a good job at building off the previous year.

  19. Emily Harvey says:

    I was homeschooled and am now homeschooling my 4 kids – when my mother began HS there were very few choices so she used primarily Abeka – since then she has changed for other subjects but stuck with abeka for language arts. I am an English degree , my sister is in political science, 2 brothers in med school and we have all sailed easily through every English and writing class given. This is why I am sticking to abeka for language arts, I know it works. (I would never recommend them for history or science however) Thanks for you blog!!! I love it!

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      My siblings and I also used Abeka! It did work, but I am finding it a little expensive and teacher-directed for my kiddos. I agree with you on history and science, too :)!

    • What are the cons of Abeka science/history that you didn’t like?

  20. I’ve used BJU and free worksheets off the internet. I’ve not found something I’ve been pleased with yet. I’m interested to see all the recommendations.

  21. Thanks for doing these reviews. I have been struggling to find the right program. I have just ordered Voyages in English. Thanks Taryn for the excellent review!

  22. I’ve used Rod & Staff English with my four oldest kids. We started in about 4th grade with the books (youngest of those four is doing 4th this year). It’s not colorful but it’s reasonably priced and it is an excellent curriculum. My older kids have consistently scored very high in grammar areas on their standardized tests. I really like that that it introduces diagramming which really helps lay a foundation for the later study of foreign language. I’ve got two more that I plan to also use the Rod & Staff route.

  23. I used Abeka for K-2, and wanted to venture out this year and tried Shurley English. WOW what a difference! Yes it is good material, but it is hard, fast paced and the workbook is boring for the kids visually. My kids have maintained good grades in English but it has come with a struggle. We have had to slow down alot of the lessons to 2 weeks instead of 1. I have had to turn to the internet for extra worksheets and instructional videos to help them understand. I am strongly considering trying BJU for 4th grade. I like that colorful pages and interesting writing assignments.

    • I loved Shurley when my kids did it at their private school (and they loved doing it too!) HOWEVER, when we switched to homeschooling this year, I could not believe the difference between the classroom version and the homeschool version. The jingles weren’t even the same! The workbook was BOOOOOORRRRIIINGGG. So we shelved it.

      The kids are in a hs program that uses BJU (2nd grade and 5th grade, respectively). I find BJU to be pretty straight forward and similar to what I grew up learning plus the workbooks look nice.

      My 5th grader has really struggled with the switch from Shurley to BJU. What Shurley made grammar so easy for 4 years, BJU has made so hard for him to comprehend. It’s like he has had to completely relearn how to do grammar in 5th grade.

      Saying all of that, I think Shurley is a wonderful program but it is so different than the way most other programs teach grammar, it may require somewhat of a learning curve. I do believe they offer an intensive program to get you started but check their website to verify.

      • I have used Shirley English for three years and LOVE it. My kids are in 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade. It takes a lot of prep work from me, but I have personally learned more about grammar teaching this than I ever remember learning in public school. I believe this curriculum challenges kids, but once they “get” it their understanding of grammar is amazing. The jingles are an excellent way to remember parts of speech. I do not, however, enjoy the writing sections so I am looking for something new in that department.

        • Angela, My kids also loved Shuley in their private school, and we too found the homeschooling lessons to be boring, overly repetitive and “spiraling” as someone else said. They would get tired of repeating jingles, but soon we made them silly, and now we can’t forget them!

          They know how to correctly classify sentences VERY well, and they can give definitions (jingles) for every part of speech and we ALL feel so much more confident in grammar! It was kind of choppy for the first 2 weeks, but it flows easily, now! This is my second year teaching Shurley, and I feel as competent as one of their old teachers!

          Amanda, I agree with you about the writing sections…so very, very dry. We stopped doing them all together last year, which was a huge mistake. This year, my dd (5th gr) will do them because she stresses less about writing. My ds (7th gr) started with Apologia’s “Jump In,” and we’re thrilled at the prospect!

          With regard to Shurley Grammar, my only disappointment is the fact that the books stop at grade 7. I need to decide whether to change to another curriculum for 8th, or to be finished with grammar this year. What do those of you with middle school/high school experience recommend?

      • My kids also loved Shuley in their private school, and we too found the homeschooling lessons to be boring, overly repetitive and “spiraling” as someone else said. They would get tired of repeating jingles, but soon we made them silly, and now we can’t forget them!

        They know how to correctly classify sentences VERY well, and they can give definitions (jingles) for every part of speech and we ALL feel so much more confident in grammar! It was kind of choppy for the first 2 weeks, but it flows easily, now! This is my second year teaching Shurley, and I feel as competent as one of their old teachers! My only disappointment is the fact that the books stop at grade 7. I need to decide whether to change to another curriculum for 8th, or to be finished with grammar this year. What do those of you with middle school/high school experience recommend?

  24. We enjoyed First Language Lessons for K-1st because it was all oral and kept our interest. I’m not a fan of workbooks because many times my children would finish a workbook and not really know what they learned.

    We love using Mad Libs to learn parts of speech. We do this about once a week and enjoy reading the silly stories we create.

    Copywork and Easy Grammar have been effective too.

    I’ve written all my Language Arts recommendations on my site http://www.homeschool-how-to.com/homeschool-language-arts.html

  25. I have used Abeka to teach my daughter for the 3 years we have home schooled. I think she grasps the concepts very well. This year we have added notebooking/lapbooks to give her something she can use as a reference.

  26. For Kindergarten, we have loved using McRuffy Language Arts.
    It is affordable, fun and includes all aspects needed for Kindergarten. Phonics, Reading, Spelling and Handwriting. I had switched from Alpha Omega Horizons and was SO thankful that I had.
    The customer service is WONDERFUL. 2 Thumbs up for McRuffy Language Arts!!!

  27. We used FLL #1-3… in 4th I wanted something a little more challenging. So we switched to Rod & Staff which I had been told was harder…. we all HATE it:) WE’ve pushed through but have learned more writing and verbal etiquette/Grammar than written Grammar. I was very pleasantly surprised by how FLL prepared my daughter for R&S just because we really enjoyed Grammar with FLL.

    Anyway, I will be hunting for a new Grammar for my 4th grader for next year and purchasing FLL #4 for my two other children!

    Funny, b/c I’m also looking for a writing curriculum. I’m considering IEW and Writing Strands. We’ll see:)

  28. We’ve been using Rod & Staff English for the last 7 years starting in the 2nd grade, through the 3rd grade. This is the most cost efficient for an English curriculum; straight forward in its approach, they have been really easy for even the newest of readers to self teach if needed! The books break down by concept; an entire chapter on nouns etc. the lessons themselves last for only around 10-15 minutes each. After the 3rd grade we switch to the Easy Grammar curriculum; they are on the same format of teaching by grouping. This is also an excellent program as the child can self teach & yet retain the information; we have been using this program for the last 5 years with our oldest two. I have tried the Simply Grammar curriculum from Karen Andreola though only for one child, however I was very pleased with it as well! We will be trying the First Language Lessons by Emma Serl this coming year on our 5 year old; as he is advanced past the K5 realm :)
    We did use Bob Jones English & Grammar this year as that was what was on hand. It has been proven to be thorough; tho labor intensive for the parent. I don’t think it to be any more superior just because of the high cost! Also, we used Abeka in K5 & WAY too hard for a young child! Our goal has always been to teach for life & not for high test scores, after all they are children & it will be important for them to actually remember how a sentence should be written. Hope this info helps!

  29. We are using Easy Grammar and Daily Grams! My daughter {8} loves it, which is a blessing considering the subject matter! {I’m a total history and science gal} ; ) It is very easy to use and something we will stick with throughout!

  30. We used Abeka (and a few other sources here and there) for my daughter in K-2nd and then switched to BJU for 3rd-4th. While we enjoy the curriculum my daughter and I aren’t huge fans of every other chapter being a writing chapter. We completed all the “other” chapters first this year and then started tackling the writing ones. We like it MUCH better.

    A friend of mine recommended Switched on Schoolhouse so we may try that for 5th grade. Anyone have any experience with SOS in Language Arts?


    • We didn’t use Switched On for Language, but we did for math. Math isn’t my daughter’s best subject, but we found switched on not only lacking, but extremely glitchy. They send out patch updates to improve things, but it was just not a good experience for us. There were times where the multiple choice answers didn’t even have the correct answer available, and many times my daughter would answer something correct and it would tell her she’s wrong, and other times she was wrong but it said she was correct. The learning was difficult, and she dropped down to a 2% for math scores this year on her testing, which shocked us all. We wanted to like it, but with the lack of instruction and help, plus the constant glitching of the program, I was glued to my daughter’s side the entire school year. This caused my other kids to begin to struggle as well, because it got harder to give them my attention. I can’t imagine language being much better, because the program itself seems so flawed. My sister uses teaching textbooks math for her kids and they have never had instruction OR glitch issues. So I think it just says a lot about the program. Hope that helps.
      We have used BJU and love it, however I do agree the writing is a bit too much.

  31. We have enjoyed English for the Thoughtful Child 1 and 2. Simple. Straight forward. Cheap. Does not burden the child with tons of worksheets. I just do an additional step of throwing in a review of the material covered that week on Friday. Keeps Friday light and retention high. We will advancing to Junior Analytical Grammar next year.

  32. I received a very beautiful grammar book as part of a discounted box of curriculum. It’s the Phonics book by Sadlier Oxford. Had it not been there, we probably would have bought the first grade english curriculum made by Christian Light Publications.

  33. We will most likely use Voyages in English (I commented above about why I like it) :-)

  34. I was actually going to start English 2 BJUP for 2nd grade. I hope we like it. It was either this or Primary Language Lessons which is not traditional at all. Looking forward to hear more reviews on BJUP English.

    • Erica, can you please share a little more about what you don’ t love about the BJU writing portion? Also, why do you feel your kiddos aren’t getting grammar with BJU?


      • Yes, please explain further as I was planning on using BJU English 2 next year. but

        • We used BJU this past year and it worked for us. Basically they have a chapter of grammar (focusing on a particular topic..nouns, adverbs…etc) then a chapter on writing ( persuasion essay, book report…etc) My son is weak in grammar from the previous years we used other things, so we also use the Daily Grams (it’s one page of grammar exercises per day) Those two together have worked for us. HOpe that gives you a better idea of BJU

    • We have used BJU for I think 3 years now. I have not seen another curriculum that covers so much, and I love it. The writing part… well, there is just a TON of it. My daughter’s best subject is English and even she dreads the writing part. Her hand gets tired, and it gets quite repetitive. I think in future years it could be quite fun, when they are better writers. But for the young ones, they just get overwhelmed. However, I do find it helpful with handwriting. If you want to focus on good handwriting while your child does the writing portions of this curriculum, you could easily just skip a handwriting curriculum all together and just use this.
      I have looked into rod & staff English, but keep coming back to this. We also didn’t like R & S for math, so that has caused hesitation for the English curriculum from them.
      The only other complaint I would have for BJU is that the books can be really fat. My daughter feels more accomplished when she finishes a book and moves on to the next. BJU has her saying, “Will I ever be done with this?” Overall, we really like BJU.

  35. Growing with Grammar was a huge improvement for my family! I have tried many and never been pleased and last year I just didn’t offer one to my kids at all because I was so upset with nothing ever working. I am so glad I came across Growing with Grammar. Its easy for me to use and I love the straight way it helps my kids learn about the topic it’s teaching. I love this Grammar program!!

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      I have looked at that, and I like how it is designed for homeschoolers. Have you used any of the other programs?

      • I’m using their spelling and we are enjoying it. There is a pre-test on day 1. Three days of practice and then a final test on day 5. Every 6 lessons there is a review section. We’re doing level 2 right now. So far its been easy but it will get more challenging as we go on. We just started using it. I’m looking at using their grammar book soon.

      • We just started using their writing curr, Winning with Writing, and its great! Short lessons each day, but to the point and effective

  36. We’ve been using Shurley English, and once you get past how the student book is organized (we use stick-on tabs to identify each section), my son really gets it!! It’s amazing!

    • I am glad that there is someone else out there doing Shurley English and loving it. I was feeling all alone. I used this curriculum when teaching in private school for 5 years and added to our curriculum this year for 1st and 3rd grade. I don’t use the teacher’s manual and never really used it when teaching in a classroom. I just couldn’t follow the script very well. I’m going to add a writing curriculum because feel the SE paragraphs are too dry.

    • I have taught Abeka, BJU, Shurley in as a christian school teacher. I like abeka for the younger grades but though BJU was much better for the older grades. BUT my students had a much better grasp on grammar when using Shurley. I didnlt use the script, except for the question and answer flow. When using Shurley, my 2nd graders had a much better grasp then my 5th graders using BJU. I plan on using Abeka with my 1st grader next year because his k5 porgram used it and he understand well, then switching to Shurley in 2nd grade.

  37. For Grammar: First Language Lessons

    For Writing: Writing With Ease, Sentence Composing for Elementary School (by Killgallon), & hopefully next year my older two children will move on to IEW

    For Literary Analysis: Discussion (Deconstructing Penguins has great ideas) and Reading Response journals using self-made prompts as well as worksheet pages from Scholastic ebooks (purchased from their Dollar Days sales–one is going on right now!)

    Although I was an English teacher in my pre-homeschooling days, I still find it challenging to teach these subjects to my own children. When I taught there was much more of an emphasis on writing and process with less time spent on grammar. I love FLL and WWE for their simple, scripted approach. I also love that FLL teaches diagramming because, taught properly, it can dramatically improve writing skills. I didn’t learn to diagram properly until it was required for a college linguistics course and wish I would have learned sooner.

  38. Thanks Erica for doing these reviews!! I will be homeschooling my 3 kiddos this fall and my head is spinning with all the different curriculums out there!! I was looking at Learning Lang. Arts through Literature but it seems that I have a few more options to look at as well! Thanks everyone for their answers!

  39. I have used BJU press for English with my oldest child since K. (she’s now in 4th grade). I don’t mind the grammar part because what they don’t learn one year, it is covered again in the next. So I like the review and my daughter doesn’t seem to struggle too much with it. That being said, the writing isn’t my favorite either although we have done some of it. Not sure if I will continue with BJU for my son or if we will try something else. I’m thankful for all of the different ideas on here!

    • I’d love to hear what you don’t love about the writing portion. I’m looking at BJU for 2nd. Thanks!

      • Me too!

        • I think the writing is actually good and thorough. I think the issue people are having, is how much writing a child is asked to do. There is so much of it, it’s almost impossible to finish a book by the end of the year. It’s very time consuming and there are just So many pages of writing in the book. They do however, teach it very, very well.

  40. Jenny Brunsvold says:

    For Kindergarten and 1st Grade ~ really enjoy Christian Light Education (CLE)

    For 2nd Grade ~ we use Growing with Grammar and All About Spelling

    For 3rd Grade + ~ using Michael Clay Thompson’s Island series (Island for 3rd, Town for 4th, etc.). I had read so much about MCT on the well-trained mind forums as well as some other homeschool blogs but was a little “scared” to try it. I am so glad we did. The Island series has been great ~ we love learning about sentences with “Mud” & building words with Latin stems.

    For 3rd grade ~ we also use All About Spelling and are starting Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for writing.

    Hope that is helpful :)

    • Just a note, we also began MCT Island series in 3rd and loved it.
      We are half way through the Town Series and are loving it even more.
      I like the simplicity, the repetition without annoyance, and the stretching content.

      This summer, my daughter actually pulled out her Caesar’s English book (Town series)
      and wanted to read in it; I directed her to the lesson we would be starting in a month.


  41. I will be a new homeschooler, and this is the last choice I have to make for my 4th grader. I was looking at Alpha & Omega’s Lifepac. Has anyone else used that? I see some very positive reviews for First language Lessons and CLE, so I may check those out. Erica, this is coming at a great time for me as our curriculum fair starts tonight! now I know which booths I need to hit. My dd is in 3rd grade right now at a Christian school and they used BJU for English, but she says she “hates” it, so, to me, it’s not worth spending the money on, although it is good.

    • Oh no, why does she hate it I wonder. I was hoping to start it next year.

      • I think like in Kristi’s post below, my dd has no faoundation in the subject. She was in ps for K- 1st 1/2 of 2nd and we “threw” her into teh Christian scool where she iwas a little overwhelmed. Also, she is a more kinesthetic learner,dislikes workbooks in general. I am thinking the First Language Lessons might work well for us since we will be using My Father’s World, but I’m not sure where to start her.

    • Yvonne, this was my first year homeschooling my 1st grader and I am using the Lifepac series. I like that it is teacher lead, self paced, and inexpensive. If your child struggles with any of it, the teacher’s manual has extra ideas and work until your child can move forward. My daughter was in ps and I think after doing this curriculum, she is ahead of her class. :) Give it a try and if it doesn’t work as a main curriculum, you can use it as a back up or extra work.

      • A few more things I can point out: In the first grade unit, she has learned about compound words, plurals – including the special ones, contractions, possesives and parts of a sentice. We have been finished for a while now, so I just review everything with her to make sure she knows it before we start 2nd grade. :)

        • I was looking at LifePacs also for my second graders. I wanted something that they could work independently if needed. Are your kids
          able to work independent? Also, I noticed all that your kids have learned in first and mine haven’t learned a lot of that in Abeka yet so I am scratching my head at this….

      • Thanks, Sam. I will definitely be looking at it at our curriculum fair. The main curriculum I’ll be using for my 1st grader (My Father’s World) has language arts already builit into the program. It isn’t until they get to 2nd grade that you have to et a seperate LA program. So, I’m looking for something for my upcoming 4th grader.

    • I found Lifepac’s very phonics based, not necessarily Language/English based. I didn’t find it as thorough either. They touch on many things, but master few things. That being said, My son has used it for K-2 and done well. We then switch to BJU to cover other important things that we find lifepac lacking in. I love the lifepac language for Kindergarten.

    • I have used LifePac for 3rd thru 7th grade. It is very, very basic and you will need to supplement a whole lot in middle school and the curriculum does not tell you what to supplement. I got it originally thinking it would be the entire Language Arts curriculum, but the curriculum did not expand as my child’s learning did. I luckily have the time and energy to research and supplement writing and reading lessons for middle and high school, otherwise my children would not recieve a complete Language Arts lesson or I would have had to choose another curriculum. I have only stuck with LifePacs because I keep finding it at garage sales for $3 to $5 bucks because other people have bought it, used just the first book and given up on it. Unfortunate for them, blessing for me.

  42. Came across this yesterday. It’s mostly for writing…http://www.bravewriter.com

    Also, this is a curriculum I used with my 2 oldest (who are now graduated). My daughter is really good at writing and grammar however my son is not into that at all. He is more a math and science guy. Anyway, I used this curriculum with both of them and they both succeeded. No melt downs or tears. Easy to use and understand. Here is the website…www.rdlco.com


  43. My to cents lol:) We took our oldest out of PS at the end of 3rd grade. I started R&S Enlish 3 with her or 4th grade and we hated it, we cried about it, we hated it some more. I finally realized she had NO foundation in this subject and others :( So I search out and found Easy Grammer we started with the 4th grade book and she loved it- so I loved it no more tears :) She completed the 5/6 book and the Plus book along with Daily Grams 4,5,6,7. We went back to the 3rd grade R&S English book and she has been happily doing her work. We go throught the books rather quickly because I test her before each chapter and she skips the areas she knows. In Oregon we have to do state testing on benchmark years. So last yr she took the 8th grade Terra Nova test and scored 10th grade 6th month. Hurray may method seemed to work. She is currently a 9th grader and finishing R&S 5 and will start R&S 6, along with Daily Gram Ultimate 8. I feel that since R&S only goes to 10th she will be able to complete all R&S books and have a very strong foundation in this area. Also we are using Writing With Ease Level 4 (just finished) and starting Writing With Skill Level 1 next week.
    For my younger kids I plan on staring with Easy Grammer 2 for 1st/2nd, EG 3/4 for 3r gr, EG 4/5 for 4th gr, EG 5/6 for 5th gr and EG Plus for 6th grade then start the R&S English 3 for 7th and work our way up, testing and skipping what we need as we go. Also I will use all levels of Writing With Ease, Skill and Style and all of the Daily Grams for each grade. I should say that for K and 1st we use Horizons Phonics/Reading and R&S Bible Nuture. Hope that helps someone making tough chioces on what works for your kids.

    • I was/am planning on doing the same approach with EG and R&S. We used EG on DS from 4th – 6th. At 7th I wanted to switch to R&S English, (we use their math and LOVE it!). Anyway is there a reason you drop back to 3rd grade? I was going to pick up in the 5th grade book, so that he/they would have English throughout their High school years.

      • My sister-in-law has used R&S from the begining, she has always homeschooled. She told me that out of all the R&S English grade levels she personally learned the most with the 3rd grade book. She said thats the one book she would not skip, it has lots of foundational stuff in it. We quickly go through the book about 1 and a half a year, because I give her the chapter test and we only do the lessons in the areas she has problems. For my younger ones we may use EG first part of year then use R&S the last part. With the same format of testing prior to start of chapter and only do lessons that are needed to cement the concepts :) ie (start school middle of Aug) EG 3/4 (2-4pgs a day) should get done between Feb and Mar then finish the year and maybe into summer with R&S 3. Hope that makes since. We school somewhat year round, with a very light summer (only the basics and finish up whatever we need to)

  44. My kids are still young and homeschooling is new to me, but here is the list of things I currently use:

    1st Grade Language Arts: Lifepac (So far I like it, but haven’t really compared it to anything.)
    1st Grade Spelling: I get the list of words from the ps. This gurantees that she is at least learning to spell words at her level.

    3&5 year old: We use the Jolly Phonics and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. They are doing well with them but I try not to push them too hard.

    My youngest are a year apart in school age, while my older one is two years ahead. My goal is to get them all at just a year apart and maybe even on the same level in some areas. To do this, I need to teach the younger ones to read while they are not of school age.

    FYI – This is a great post. I like seeing all the different options that are out there.

  45. Our first purchase for Grammar in our HSing journey, 4 years ago was Easy Grammar. And we have LOVED it every step of the way 2nd- 6th grade, until I finally realized we were not getting some needed things out of EG. EG offers a GREAT foundation but I decided that in 7th grade we needed something more. So the search began, I found Abeka and ordered their 5th grade book for DS in 7th, because he had NEVER done some of the things in their Scope and Sequence using EG. I am/was happy with their English part of the book, but half of the book had gone untouched, the writing half. It was a little confusing to me, it is not really lessons/practice as much as just rules/directions, if that makes any sense! Anyway I have decided that we will sell Abeka and pick up Rod & Staff English at 6th grade, because it is so straight forward with NO fluff as others have stated. With DDs coming up we will continue EG until 7th grade for the strong foundation, then we will use R&S from 7th-12th grade, using their 5th-10th grade books. As for writing, I have not found a curriculum that we absolutely love, so we just use our Sonlight LA as our writing. In the past we have used, Just Write, and Writing Strands and neither have been a good fit. So still on the lookout for that one true fit ;)

  46. fifthgearmom says:

    so glad i found this post. you guessed it, we are all thinking about next year! how funny we are, always looking ahead. must be the choleric personalities among us… well, i have a reluctant writer 5th grader and a preschooler. after reading a few pages of this blog i am almost 100% positive that we will be switching to writeshop junior book e. fyi: the company said that book should be out in the fall. we have been using LLATL-purple book. rather dry and my daughter needs something more “fun”. just don’t have the time to come up with something myself (bs.art education) with 5 kiddos! we will also be trying out the easy grammar next year. as well as sequential spelling- possibly w/dvd so she can teach herself and i can check. she needs remedial help in that area too. still deciding though…. :)

  47. Yes it is sort of nice to hear I am not the only one that struggles with this. We have tried various curricula also and have not fallen in love with any. For my 5th graders I stick with Saxon Grammar because it is Saxon but so unsure for the younger ones.

  48. We are using Easy Grammar for both my 2nd and 7th grader. They were both using different curriculm and not doing well. After the switch they both now like grammar. So I will continue with Easy Grammar next year.

  49. Hi Erica!
    We are loving Easy Grammar. I like how repetitive it is for the kids so that they can master their skills. I am actually terrible at grammar and it is pretty easy for me to teach to my 5th and 7th grader.

    We also use Writing Strands. I do like how simple yet effective it is for all my children, even my 2nd grader.

  50. I am wondering if any of you have ever heard of Landmarks Freedom Baptist Curriculum? It was one of the curriculums that came out in the late 90’s when I was about done with teaching my children. It is a full line Curriculum and it is really inexpensive but Oh it is so wonderful. The cost is $40 for a complete subject set which includes everything you need to teach each subject. Textbooks, workbooks, Teacher manuals, weekly tests quarterly tests from grade 4 up. It is the best curriculum I ever saw when I was teaching my children. The link is http://www.landmarklfbc.com/

  51. We have been using Abeka, and its a great program! For our kids English is second language and they are picking up grammar and English skills very fast as well as language skills. I do think their reading books are a bit boring. This year we tried a different program for my first grader (Haughton Mifflin Reading) and she loved the reading part, but I wasn’t too impressed with the workbook, although its not bad. My daughter enjoyed the way reading was presented. She really blossomed in reading this year! But I do think for English and Grammar the Abeka worked much better for my kids.

  52. I have used BJU Press for several years. I think the K and Grade 1 are the best because they give an excellent phonics foundatin. The best way to handle the writing is to take your time. Don’t expect the child to write well quickly. Take time explaining and wriitng together before having him work on his own, especially for the younger grades. The grammar foundation is also good. My oldest daughters did well in university, as in A’s in writing. We didn’t write in the workbooks from Grade 3 on, but did the work on paper. That saved some expense.

  53. I love our Language Arts. When looking for spelling last year for my son, I couldn’t find anything I liked as well as what my daughter had in public school, and eventually I ended up going with the same LA program they use in our school. I pieced together pieces of the program (including teacher manuals) second-hand but know they offer a “homeschool” version as well – just not sure all what is included in that. It’s called Reading Street by Pearson, Scott Foresman. Includes reading, phonics, grammar, spelling (in past years anyway, it seems around here we are getting away from traditional teaching of “spelling”), writing, research and study skills. Might be worth checking out if you’re in the market for a new program! My sister has also had a very good experience with Sonlight’s LA. That would be my second choice.

  54. JEnnifer Lisk says:

    We used Rod and Staff for many years, but after 4th grade it was unbearable. Too much work and the diagramming was ridiculous! So, we have been using Easy Grammar and after a year it has amazing results! My reluctant learner can actually pick apart a sentence and my eldest (8th grade) is writing better, just by using the combining sentences section. We also use Writing Strands.

  55. Hi: I was an English major in college, and I never really thought about grammar until we started homeschooling almost 7 years ago. We have been through a number of grammar programs, including Easy Grammar, but there was never anything about grammar that seemed to be easy, or even seemed to be retained by older three children, now 12, 15 and 17 (we also have a 7 year-old). Part of the problem seems to be the rush to study grammar at much too early an age. Grammar as a subject is abstract. Abstract thinking in a child develops at around 10-12 years old. There has been this rush to learn grammar rules and principles, while the child has yet to have a complete grasp of spoken language, or an ability to write well on their own. There are of course exceptions to this, but I have seen hundreds of worksheets completed by my children, and still a blank stare when I ask them to identify a prepositional phrase in a sentence.
    Our journey towards understanding grammar began with reading excellent writing. To understand an abstract concept, one must be exposed to it. A child can readily tell you when someone uses incorrect grammar, but many times can not tell you why. I have a friend at church who home schooled her 5 children for many years. She suggested I look at Winston Grammar, which she had used years before, and had success with her children. I looked into it, and it looked far too simple to work, but it wasn’t a big investment, and what I had was not working. This is our third year of Winston Grammar. I teach my three older children together three times a week for about a half hour. The results are remarkable. They now understand grammar and remember it. They can parse a sentence, take it apart and identify the parts of speech and functions. Winston Grammar is the single best curriculum I have used in our seven years.
    I would caution you moms of very young children (and I still have a 7 year old) not to place so much emphasis on all these Abeka, BJU and similar worksheets. I have found that the quantity of work does not necessarily equate to mastery. Busy work is still busy work. You would be better off reading them good literature at that age, so that they can hear what a well-constructed sentence sounds like.
    To summarize, this is what has been effective for our family, and it might not be what works for you, but before you jump on the grammar bandwagon in first grade, it is probably best to allow your children the freedom to fall in love with our language before you drill all the life and interest out of it by making them study grammar before they are mentally able to understand it. a9That was a complex sentence!)
    Down off the soap box, and not meaning to offend anyone, but I hope that my perspective could be helpful to someone.

    • Do you have any favorites, in terms of good literature for elementary children? We read many of the books recommended by Sonlite, Illuminations (from Bright Ideas Press), living history, but I always enjoy hearing other people’s favorites.

      I completely agree about drill, worksheets, etc. I was raised In a public school setting where these were the norm because they had to be. It is a daily growth experience for me to allow my children to learn from their environment that has been saturated other opportunities for learning.

    • I read about Winston Grammer in the resource guide for the book, I Saw the Angel in the Marble. They said it was the best program they had found for teaching grammar. So I ordered a copy, but shelved it for now, as my oldest is only 7 and he is too young for it at this time.

    • Thanks! Your post helped me! I’ve been very confused about what to get for my daughter (6 years old). We have been just doing All About Reading for phonics and a Sonlight Core which has tons of great literature. So from what you said, it sounds like just keeping on doing this should be good enough for her age.

    • Just thank you. That is what I wish I had done with my older two. What age is Winston for?

    • Thank you soooooo much!!!!! I agree with you on that. My daughter has used Abeka since kindergarten and she hates it! She will be in grade 6 this coming year and she still knows nothing about grammar. We’ve had a lot of tears with it. I think it is just better to introduce grammar when they are older. I am thinking of trying Jr. Analytical Grammar this year with her. Anyone used this???

    • I completely agree with your post. We have homeshooled for two years. My children had done Abeka/BJU in school. My 5th grade daughter could not tell me what a noun or the subject of a sentence was. We started Winston Grammar this year and she is doing wonderful. I couldn’t teach grammar until I used this program. It is easy to teach, quick and works wonders. Also, a good site for quality well written childrens books from the 1800-1900’s is Lamplighter Publishing. Very well written English.

  56. We have used 100 Easy Lessons this year with my 5 year old. This is our first year of homeschooling and I have heard such great things so we gave it a go. But!!!!! My daughter is a math head! She really likes rules and wants to understand why about everything! So I started looking for a better suited material and found Foundations by Logic of English. It just came out last week and we are on lesson 5. For the first time EVER she Wants to do English. Hooray!!! I am so impressed with this curriculum. It is the most thorough I have seen(i.e. I have already learned things:)), but it does NOT give them busy work…LOVE it!
    Thank you for your site and all the wonderful info by all the other moms. I am enjoying looking into what we might like later on!

  57. We are using Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Island series after using BJU and SOS. My 4th grader was having trouble understanding language and grammar. I was afraid she was missing some things so we just started at the beginning with the Island series. We may be a bit behind in this curriculum, but I feel like she is gettting a better understanding than many kids using other programs.
    Language is not really my thing, so we needed something really good. I think I am learning in a way I have never learned before.

    • We are new to homeschooling. Next year will be our first year. My daughter will be in fourth grade and I already ordered Grammar Town for her. My husband and I have loved reading the books ourselves and I’m excited to start teaching my daughter! Any tips? I’m not so secretly terrified about homeschooling. The more information I get, the better I feel.

      • We will be new also…my son will be in third grade…I’m also terrified….lol But I’m like you. The more research I do, the better I feel.

        We have decided on BJU English. Hopefully it will work for us. If not, we aren’t married to it forever. :)

        These subject forums are great! Thanks for setting it up, Erica!

  58. Has anyone used The Latin Road to English Grammar? I’m considering starting with The Phonics Road to Spelling & Reading, then rolling into the Grammar levels. I would love to hear if anyone has made it through the levels of either. It’s supposed to be all-inclusive: phonics, grammar, spelling, writing.

    We have used:
    First Language Lessons 1 – okay (wasn’t to my son’s style of learning)
    Easy Grammar 2 – loved it (quick, easy, independent, not enough teacher help)
    Rod & Staff English 3 – liked it (seemed too boring, but no complaints from son while doing it)
    R&S Reading & Comprehension – we LOVE (time consuming for student, but it reinforces so many things)

    With the other grammar programs I’ve supplemented with AAS for spelling & IEW for writing. I was hoping that I could do 1 language arts curriculum that ties everything together.

  59. Hi, I will be a new homeschooler next year, teaching my 2nd grade son. For the Language Arts program I am thinking about:
    Spelling: All about spelling
    Grammar: Growing with Grammar (I like McRuffy, but it seems too expensive)
    Writing: Handwriting w/o tears or Excellence in writing (my sons does not like to write)
    Phonics: using http://www.progressivephonics.com
    With My fathers world reading, I’m hoping that I am covering all the basics for what he needs to know next year. It is really overwhelming and it seems like I change my mind weekly.

    • Kathy- McRuffy has a special for their new color edition right now… It may help with the price.
      It may be listed on their website. The new color editions are not available elsewhere yet….

      • McRuffy includes all the subjects you have listed. If you dropped everything else for McRuffy LA, you would save money and get a great product.

  60. Laura Zimmer says:

    Wow, it has been amazing to read everyone’s posts. I have been given some new ideas to consider. I have a 14 year old and a 6 year old. I did a hodge-podge of things for language arts with my 14 year old. I have had trouble finding a balanced blend of grammar, composition and literature. I really like novel studies, but wanted something more than just read the book and answer questions. I wanted something that taught about literary elements as well. So, one more year of mixing and matching for him, we are doing Easy Grammar, which he has done for about two years now. It works very well for him. We add Critical Thinking Co. Editor in Chief once a week for application purposes. This year and next year we are doing Lightning Literature by Hewitt publishing Co. It is pretty comprehensive and we really like the literature choices. We are also including for next year a book called Essays and Research Reports by Kim Nash from The Father’s Books.com. However, for the remainder of his highschool years and for my daughters Language curriculum I am looking to do Total Language Plus. I love that it seems to be all inclusive. You can pick and choose books of your choice. It has a critical thinking component and a Christian worldview. I am really excited to launch into this.

  61. My kids are still in the lowers grades and still learning how to read so we use Child 1st Publications and All About Learning Press (both have similar programs and complement each other’s strengths/weakness’). I also believe kids should start grammar instruction as soon as they are reading and writing sentences so we use Growing with Grammar since they start in the 1st grade (unlike most programs), and my kids seem to catch on quickly to their easy approach.

    • Laura Zimmer says:

      Thanks for posting Becca. I had not heard of this series, but I went and checked it out immediately. I am definitely considering this program for my second grader.

  62. We’ve done a few different things, but this has worked the best (and plans for the next couple years):

    Phonics/spelling: Spell to Write and Read with the Wise Guide to Spelling. It’s a k-12 curriculum and we’ve used it through 4th grade so far.

    Grammar: Introduce the parts of speech in 1st or 2nd with activities I bought years ago from Scholastic (cut & paste type things). Then Jr. Analytical Grammar and Jr. Analytical Mechanics in 4th-6th grade, and Analytical Grammar beginning in 6th/7th grade.

    Writing: Daily writing and biweekly writers workshops with a writing exercise included. Don’t worry about grammar/spelling unless the audience requires it. Don’t worry about genre. We’ll likely begin a formal writing curriculum in 7th or 8th grade.

    Literature: LOTS of read alouds, LOTS of classics and books in a variety of genres available to read. My kids do read a lot, so no assigned reading lists. We’ve done lit. lapbooks from this site (LOVE!) and also from Progeny Press (a little more “academic” than my preference for now, but still very good). Lots of discussion. We’ll lapbook through Robin Hood/Beowulf/Canterbury Tales this year. My kids are requesting more lit. lapbooks from this site, so I’m going to comply :)

  63. We have used ABeka since K4 and are finishing up 3rd this year. We dabbled in First Language Lessons one summer – we did like it. I like the ABeka and feel my son has a good grasp on the material, so we will be sticking with it mostly because that is what we are familiar with. We have added in some more “fun” computer work this year. One of the things we do is from the site Grammaropolis. We just use the FREE portion of this program. They have fun videos that help teach all the parts of speech. My kids think they are fun and ask to watch more than the “one a day” that is assigned. I just ask them to watch one of the videos a day of their choice. Hoping it will help drill everything in there for me! Here is the site: http://grammaropolis.com/index.php
    Hope that helps someone. Oh, and did I mention its FREE!!!!

  64. I started my 4th and 1st grader with Writeshop and hated it for my 4th grader and am tolerating for my 1st grader.

    I switched to BJU Press for my 4th grader and like it very much. The writing is a little bit of a challenge since I do not know how to teach creative writing but it is MUCH easier to figure out than Writeshop. BJU does not give guidelines on how to grade the writing projects. They just suggest a rubric. I am sticking with BJU as it seems in line with what 4th grade in our area is teaching.

    I am going to switch my 1st grader to BJU Press for language/writing when he starts 2nd grade.

  65. I am using Oak Meadow’s entire curriculum for 7th grade. I am VERY pleased with the reading selections and the way the grammar is integrated each week. I think it is straightforward and easy to follow. Perhaps find just the English to buy used??

  66. Mother of Two Boys says:

    We use BJU. I find that the more years we use them, the more of a routine my kids get into and are confident with doing their work independantly. With that comes less direction needed from me. I find that they are very consistant with the standard testing that we all have to take. In my second year of homeschooling I tried a different cirriculum because the first year I was given BJU to use and was trying to save money. What actually happened was I had to re-do lots of lessons because it left so many holes. With BJU I am confident that there are no holes in their education. We recently started a Young Writers Club where I invite a few of my kids friends over and they share their writing. That has been very inspiring to them!

  67. We currently use FLL and WWE, along with All About Spelling…. I was wondering if anyone has used Sonlight’s language arts programs. Maybe I just missed that comment! :) I have wondered how their approach compares… we love Sonlight’s Cores, but I have been afraid to try the LA because we love our current programs.

    • I have not been a huge fan or Sonlight’s language arts. Love our Core, just not the language arts. So I’ve been trying to decide what we’ll use next year instead. Halfway through this year I got All About Reading and we’ve been doing that instead of Sonlight LA.

  68. We have used the K12 grammar for the last 3 years….2nd through 4th grade. I really like the workbooks. You might be practicing using comma’s and periods by reading sentences about Rosa Parks or the Wright brothers. My daughter used Abeka at a Christian school before we started homeschooling and I think I agree with the poster who thought Abeka was good for the younger grades. My two 4K’ ers and one 5K’er are rocking the Abeka and learning so much.
    I have also used the Sonlight program for 1st grade with another daughter and have decided to switch to Sonlight next year for 5th grade. If it doesn’t work for us….we can always switch back!
    Good reading…thanks for the “forum”!

  69. We use Growing with Grammar and it is just right for us. It is a serious program without the overkill of pages and pages to do each day. It is also VERY affordable. Here is the web site: http://growingwithgrammar.com/

  70. As anyone can see not one option fits every family. That is what is so cool about homeschooling! We get to pick and choose what works for each kid.

    Over our time we have tried out:
    Growing with Grammar 1st-6th (no retention)
    Calvert School Grammar 3rd-4th (Just UGG!!!)
    Oak Meadow English 4th-6th (the whole method did not work for us)
    Easy Grammar Plus (confusing)
    Saxon/Hake Grammar and Writing 5th-6th (too much like Saxon for my Saxon hating guys)
    McRuffy K and 1st (too easy for the age kids I bought it for but we did like it)
    Rod and Staff 2nd-5th (Boring and overly religious/preachy with too much diagramming focus and too little writing are at the top of the Never Again List.)
    CLE 100 and 300 (the combo approach made it confusing for mine)
    ABeka (3rd) (cannot remember why this one did not make the cut)
    I think that covers it.

    For this coming year, we are going with BJU. As a poster on TWTM forums said, (and I am paraphrasing here) she liked BJU because it teaches her daughter to recognize and correct the kinds of mistakes she and her daughter’s friends will make. She also liked that the kids learn a grammar concept then immediately apply it to a writing assignment. I agree with her. I also like that it gives a more even coverage to the topics of grammar and writing, is colorful, and feels more engaging. I have not had any luck finding a writing program that clicked for my very creative writing guys so I am hopeful this one will work out. I have heard it said that BJU is about a year ahead grade wise. The suggestion to me was to use it one grade behind.

  71. Has anyone used Essentials in Writing? I’m interested in that for next year. It is supposed to be like Math U See (short video lessons and very student led) for Grammar/Writing. I like the thought of that!

  72. Kendra Liedtke says:

    We have been doing All about learning press for reading & spelling. I am looking for a grammar that would meld well with it. I like that they are very hands on. He will be a 1 st grader next year! Any suggestions would be great!

  73. Erica, do you teach from the BJU Eng TM or use it as a reference if your kids need more help?

  74. Over the past 17 years of home educating our children we have used Abeka, Sonlight, LLTL, BJU, Christian Liberty Press, Alpha Omega, First Language Lessons, K12, Rod & Staff, Christian Light and Jensen’s. At first, it was finding a good fit and figuring out home school. Now that we know what we are doing and what we like, we use Rod & Staff up through 3rd grade – starting with their preschool books, because they introduce language gently. The 3rd grade English book can be used by just about any grade, as it is intensive in content. Great stuff!

    From 4th grade through 10th grade, we use Christian Light. We switched from R&S to CLE because the children had gaps in certain areas, and the writing was not as intense as I would have liked. CLE is a nice balance. CLE splits their English in high school out, giving half a year of English 1 in 9th and half in 10th, and then English 2 split over 11th and 12th. We don’t do that. We do all of English 1 in 9th grade, and all of English 2 in 10th grade.

    From there we move to Jensen’s Grammar for 11th, and Jensen’s Format Writing for 12th. Our children graduate with significantly more grammar than they need, but they also understand a lot more and have scored very high on SAT and other collegiate entrance tests.

    One change we have made – I have a child with dysgraphia, making CLE often a challenge for language arts. For this child we took a break and brought in Grammar Land (free worksheets online). Old, but cute. He suddenly understood grammar as never before, and jumped two full grades in CLE between pre and post tests (free on their website). We also dropped the penmanship portion of CLE, and went with their new penmanship books. Much easier for him.

    For those of you just beginning, take heart if the first thing you use is not a ‘match’ for you and your kiddos. You might also find that something works for a while, and then in one grade it doesn’t. It’s okay to switch! There are some excellent comments on here, and some great resources. Just remember that English doesn’t have to be beastly, and it’s okay to take a break while you find something new!

    • .Wendy,
      Would you recommend I use R&S English 3 for my 4th & 5th graders before moving on to CLE? From the above comments it has a wealth of lessons. I had planned to use Winston Grammar & could use that along with R&S 3. I also have an 8th grade student who has struggled with grammar & writing. I have been planning to use CLE, Winston Grammar immediately, And Jensens Grammar & Format Writing (for high school) I like your high school plan!

  75. All i have to say is Logic of english! The best!

    • I have 10 children and have been homeschooling for 25 years. The first several years I used nothing but ABeka for all their subjects. Then I decided to use something else for Language as I wasn’t overly fund of theirs, especially the writing portion. I used Winston Grammar one year, liked it fine, but it definitely was not a years worth of material for us. Finished it in a few weeks. Then we used Easy Grammar one year. Kinda liked the prepositional phrase approach, but at that time it only covered parts of speech and maybe a little mechanics, etc.
      Went back to ABeka. Then Shurley English came out and I decided to try it. I loved it! I liked the way that it built on and reviewed. For example, we didn’t just learn about nouns and then have a chapter on verbs and so on. Once we learned a part of speech, we continued labeling all the parts and doing the unique question and answer flow for the whole sentence, not just the part of speech we were currently learning.
      I am now homeschooling my youngest three, a 12th, 11th, and 3rd grader. My third grader is very hands on and much different than any of my other children so I decided to try something different with him. I used the American Language Series for teaching all of my children to read in kindergarten and love it, love it, love it! It is the best ever!! I love phonics and reading so I actually used the Scaredy Cat program also with one of mine and PAL program from IEW with my youngest. I used IEW years ago with my oldest and am about to use it again this year for all of mine. I purchased the theme based Bible Heroes for my youngest one and love it. My older two are doing the theme based U.S. History. I really like it also.
      I used First Language Lessons with my youngest last year but have bought Rod and Staff 2 to use this year. So far I like what I see. I still may go back to Shurley English for a year or two. I also am looking into Logic of English Foundations for my youngest and Logic of English Essentials for my older ones. I also use All About Spelling with younger one. I am checking out Analyptical Grammar and Dynamic Word Build.

  76. Erica, I have heard that Abekas grade 3 is a key to good foundation. However…I get so overwhelmed on their website. I wish you just clicked English/Grammer and it gave the price. Instead it has 1000000 options. What do I actually need to start out with? Do not want a bunch of extra unnecessary stuff.

  77. Has anyone used the Latin Road to English Grammar? I’m interested in buying volume 1 set.

  78. HEIDI FROM TN says:

    I have 3 boys grades 1, 4, and 6. The have used the A Beka language and the BJU. The began school at a Private Christian school. Then I home schooled them for a while and now they are back in Private Christian. My opinion of A Beka is that it is weak – plain and simple. I teach 5th grade at the school and we use BJU. I would consider BJU fair. The lessons are neat and clear cut. I am a weak English teacher and BJU makes it easy to teach the lesson. However, BJU does a horrible job creating sentences for practice. They put things in their practice sentences that students haven’t seen before. It confuses them. The text will ask students to find the verb in the sentence and then BJU will pop infinitive forms of a verb in their examples. They haven’t taught it in the curriculum. A child will circle “to run” and not know why it is wrong. You can explain it but now you have to stop and teach infinitives. This happens EVERY chapter in a variety of ways. I called BJU and they said that they do this more in the “class practice” section to help the kids learn to do more challenging work. I m sorry but you don’t “challenge” a student you frustrate them. It is a disaster in the classroom. I have spoken to multiple teachers who use BJU and several have decided to only use BJU as a supplement. We have found that as a school, our students are not applying what they are learning when they are doing writing assignments.
    I used BJU when I homeschooled and I was able to deal with it a little better. I had time to teach these “mini lessons,” One other item that I do not think works well is teaching prepositional phrases at the end of the book. The 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers decided to teach the last chapter (prep phrases) at the beginning of the year. This has helped great deal. It has helped the kids learn to knock out the prep phrases before looking for a subject.
    I apologize if this post has many mistakes. I don’t have my glasses and the print is very small. Good luck to everyone! I m still searching for the perfect curriculum :)

  79. I really enjoy reading all of your comments and feedbacks. Right now, I am frustrated because I really can’t decide on which curriculum for my 4th grade son. I would love your suggestion if you have. I have bad experience in the past relating to the gaps with my 3 kids. I want my son to have a good foundation with grammar and writing. He was using Rod & Staff for 2nd and 3rd grade. I do see very good structure on his grammar and writing. But, sadly, he was dreadful doing them. When I show him R&S in 4th grade, he said, No, please!. He wants another kind. Oh! Umm. I am considering BJU English 4. I am still hesitating if it is really good program. If it is much similar to Abeka Language, I would prefer not. We currently use BJU History and Reading and love them! Let me tell my long experience with many english programs. Long time ago, our three kids were using R&S till 4rd grade. I started to have a problem because I was having a baby. It was hard to follow up with their schoolworks. So, they tried SOS Language 5 and 3. They were not happy with it. So, I tried on Abeka language. When my older son arrived to 8th grade, he was not happy with it. Very confusing! He tried on BJU English for 9th and 10th. It was okay. At last two years, he was on SOS language. He was fine with it. Now, he is in college. My 2nd and 3rd ones were on Abeka language for several years during their elementary & middle school. I don’t see the improvement in their grammar and writing. I tried on Easy Grammar. They liked them because of very easy work. Their SAT tests showed low on language arts. I decided to quit on them. I want them to go back to R&S. They tried on few units. They were very dreadful with them. I tried on Pace English. I love the God centered style they use! It really encouraged me a lot! They have been on them since 2 years. They like them. But, I don’t really see any improvement on their grammar structure and writing. There is not much of thinking skills on Pace program. My all three kids are currently using Pace Word Building/Entmology and love them. It is really excellent! I am thinking to get BJU English for two kids. Not sure! Now, back to my last son. I really don’t want him to go through what my other kids did. I am looking one with spiral learning approach which R&S does offer. I see that BJU English and CLP do offer that. I look at Growing in Grammar which is new to me. It reminds me much of Easy Grammar which I dislike unless I am wrong. I would love your opinion and suggestion. BJU English? CLP? Growing in Grammar? for 4th grade. If R&S is still a best choice, I will manage to deal with my son to continue on it. Greatly appreciate your help! God bless you all!! Philippians 4:4-Rejoice in Lord!

  80. I am so thankful for all the post here! I currently have a 3rd and 1st grader and an almost 3yr old. We are going to switch from LifePac Lang arts to something else next year. My oldest does well with it but my 1st grader loathes it! I did Sing, Spell, Read, Write with my oldest early on and he did great, wish I had just kept on with second child but wanted to keep them on the same type of program so they both were doing Lifepac LA….bad idea….live and learn. I am considering First Lang Lessons and Writing with ease or Rod and Staff English with IEW. This forum has been so helpful to me. We are in our 3rd year of homeschooling. Comments welcome on either of my possible choices! :-)

  81. Jennifer R says:

    I just ran across this blog post and did not see anyone talk about the curriculum we used this last year its called Essentials in writing. Its half grammar and writing. If you like the Math u see set up with a workbook and video you will like this curriculum. I have a 4th grader and I have seen his writing really improve using this curriculum. Bonus I called and talked to the author who was an english teacher for many years.

  82. I have been agonizing over what main LA program to use for my daughter who will be in 6th grade next year. She was in PS last year. After looking at Abeka, R&S, BJ, and many others, I think we will go with CLE. I had her take the 500 placement test (it’s free if you just click to see the sample) and she scored well in some areas and poorly in others. Not well enough to pass though. What’s great about CLE is that they have 10 separate books to cover the entire year so I can just pick the books that I need to focus on to catch her up. I think spelling is also included. They also have a separate diagramming book for only $3 or $4 which she didn’t learn in PS. For anyone that has used CLE, do I need to find programs for writing & vocabulary to add? Was your child prepared for the SAT or ACT? Thanks for your help!

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