Welcome to Day 8 of Homeschooling Enrichment! Now that we’ve gotten our minds and attitudes right before God, today we’re going to discuss one of my favorite topics, homeschool curriculum!
Curriculum choices can be one of the most overwhelming things to a homeschooler, but there are some great choices out there to get you started and I’m going to share some of my thoughts on those today.
One thing I want to start off with, is to encourage you to pray before even starting to research curriculum. Ask God for guidance on what He has for your family this year. We’ve already learned that our children are not our own, but His.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
Once I’d found a couple good curriculum choices, one thing I found extremely helpful was www.homeschoolreviews.com. Most curricula are listed there and you can read reviews from others who have used it. I found it to be fairly easy to tell the people who were like-minded with me. I was then able to weigh the pros and cons before I spent our own money on something.
Here are some of my preferred curriculum choices to help you get started (please note all content below is my personal opinion and may differ from others!):
- All About Spelling: I absolutely LOVE AAS! I can’t say enough about this program, I’ve seen dramatic increase in my children’s ability to both spell and read since implementing it this year. While they encourage you to buy a separate set of tiles and cards for each child, I don’t do that. I’m all about saving money and so I only buy 1 Level at a time and we share it.My daughter started on Level 2 and has since moved up to Level 3, my son is now using her Level 2 stuff. I have those workboxes separated out so I’m only teaching one at at time so it’s easy to share supplies. We don’t always use the tiles, some days we use a white board to write the words, or we use our Nintendo DS to write the words, then send it to mom as a picto-chat. Just a fun alternation to keep it more exciting! Scheduled for you: This program is very easy to use. Each day is scheduled out for you, it even includes what to say which is nice! You can move at your own pace with this, the object is to teach to mastery before moving on.
- Math U See: A solid math program with colorful blocks to aid in the visualization of math concepts. This is particularly helpful for kids who are having trouble grasping the concept of addition and subtraction. Using blocks they can literally “see” what is happening. In my opinion, MUS is weak in the area of money and time but I’ve found it easy to supplement in this area. I simply teach the basic concepts adding something simple like a handful of coins to a workbox for my kids to count, or a clock with times they have to make.
- BJU Press: We’re looking at this for next year, I love how the teacher’s manuals are laid out, and the worksheets are colorful! Their reading program has great comprehension questions, I also like their English, it has great writing help along with easy to understand lessons. I also like the Heritage studies. One thing that I find attractive about BJU Press is that all the subjects tie in with one another, so it’s like doing a large unit study with all the other subjects tying back to the main theme of the year. The schedule is easy to follow and laid out for you by day, and they offer both standard Teacher’s Manuals as well as DVD series lessons.
- Abeka – A more traditional curriculum with solid academics, but not too exciting, this curriculum is mostly worksheet based . Scheduled for you, ie: Monday do this, Tuesday do this… and so on. I typically use it for Kindergarten and first grade. The phonics and reading are great and the history and science reading is easy and age appropriate. This area is mostly reading with a few experiments, but again, not that exciting.
- Sonlight: Classical based curriculum which is basically learning through reading. Scheduling: I believe they give you a daily schedule, and you can pick from a 4 or 5 day week to choose from. I have not used Sonlight personally, but I do know other’s who have and love it. If you love to read, this may be for you! (Note: They are more expensive due to quantity of books you must purchase)
- Tapestry Of Grace: TOS is a unit study history curriculum. It looks really fun, but doesn’t include math, spelling, language/grammar, or science. That is a lot of supplementing if you consider the price. I would not necessarily recommend this to a beginning homeschooler. I’ve considered this carefully, and honestly the Teacher Manual can be overwhelming, (especially for a newbie). According to friends who have used this program it is fairly labor intensive on your part to get everything organized planned out. Scheduling: They give you a list of what to accomplish in a week and you organize how and what you want to do, plan on spending a few hours each week planning out your schedule.
- Christian Homeschool Curriculums: This site offers a list of several different Christian based homeschool curriculum choices.
What homeschooling laws do I need to know?
(Disclaimer: Please note, I am not a lawyer, the below information is just to help you locate information regarding your state’s laws.)
- Homeschool Legal Info: For legal information visit HSLDA to find out about homeschooling requirements in your state. Each state is different, some even give tax breaks, so make sure to check out this information!
- Local Support: Visit Homeschool.com and search for a local homeschooling group in your area, along with tons of other homeschooling info! Local groups are all over the place! I find our group very helpful as well as encouraging on days when things aren’t going quite as planned! They also provide opportunities for co-op’s and other fun activities for your children such as geography & science fairs, spelling bees, presentation days, holiday parties and more!
- Local Umbrella School: Most states have umbrella schools that you can join. they enable you to teach at home, while storing your test and attendance records on file for you.
The last thing I wanted to share with you is a bit on making learning fun! One of the many benefits to homeschooling, is that we aren’t chained to our desks all day doing boring worksheets. We have the flexibility to make our days fun as well, by adding in extra things such as field trips, crafts, hands on activities & nature walks!
Here are some fun learning tools that you can easily ad into your school day!
- iPhone educational apps
- Wii Sports Time
Be spontaneous today! Put something totally unexpected in your workboxes (or workload) for the day! Some ideas: fun snack, $1 craft from Michael’s, “Free-Play-Time” card, online learning time, Wii time or game time.
Some Extra Online fun:
There are literally tons of homeschooling blogs out there! Chances are if you’ve found mine, you already know this. Search for what you’re looking for, someone out there will have ideas and suggestions to get you started! See my sidebar for all my favorite blogs and websites!
- Nest Family Learning
- www.raz-kids.com (a reading program)
- www.powerspeak.com (We use this for Spanish, its really fun!)
- www.scholastic.com (They have fun educational games for your kids to play). Actually, just look on my left sidebar scroll down a bit and I list all my favorite websites and blogs!
- Literacy Center: early learning
- Read, Write & Type (A fun online typing program)
- I’m sure there are tons more, if you know of a great site, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!
Stick around tomorrow for Day 9 of Homeschooling Enrichment where we’ll be discussing how to organize all of your yummy curriculum!
Visit our Sponsors! Time 4 Learning & Pick and Draw
Thanks for sharing your GREAT ideas… at our house, we LOVE using Heart of Dakota!!Jessica
Hi Erica,I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your posts. They are well thought out and written. I agree with you on all your points. You have helped me remember the true reason why I am homeschooling. Sometimes it is easy to forget and get catch up on the earthly reasons losing sight of the only reason it is truly important, to help our children get to heaven to be with God for all eternity. Huge challenge but we as parents have to be are up to it! Thanks again for all of your thoughts and ideas!
I really like math u see also…the only concern I have is kind of what you said..it teaches things in a different order…and I have read that this could affect standardized testing…I was wondering if you have had any experience with this. In our state they do have to test at the end of each year…so it sort of makes me nervous.ThanksMeg
MEG: So far we haven't had any issues but we're only up to 2nd grade. In our state you are required to test odd grades starting at 3,5,7,9… I doubt there will be issues though, they do teach to standards, just master one thing before moving on to the next skill level.
Hi! We are about to start our first year of homeschooling. Our oldest daughter is 5 and will be in K. We ordered Math-U-See and MFW. I see you suggest to do more phonics since it is weak in MFW. What suggestions do you have that I could use along with MFW? I am so new to all of this that it is quite overwhelming looking over all the options for curriculum. TIA for all your help!
Hi Briana, My favorite phonics right now is All About Spelling! They do a great job at teaching the phonics rules, and they also have readers if you need those as well. I know it’s called All About Spelling, but they teach phonics at the same time. There is a button that will take you to their site on the top right sidebar of my blog.
Hi! I was wondering about in your Homeschool Room Viedo part 1 you show a schdule that is clipped on your board with rings. What is that and do you have a download for that and the schdule you use for your children?
Thank You SO much for your blog, i am amazed by all your hard work and i hope you keep blogging for years to come!
I’m looking for a place to start with my kids ages 3&4. All the curriculums look designed for older children. Any advice for moms of preschoolers? Thanks! Love your website.