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What Is The Best Homeschooling Curriculum In Your Opinion And Why?

Readers Forum:

I am going to be homeschooling my 7 year old daughter in the fall and am overwhelmed by the choices of curriculum. What is the best and most kid friendly?

27 comments to What Is The Best Homeschooling Curriculum In Your Opinion And Why?

  • ArmyWife

    I would recommend starting with the Elijah Company’s resource guide — it isn’t only a catalog it has great synopsies of homeschooling method’s and their main strength’s and weaknesses. http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com/ – once you see which method fits your family the best/you are drawn to the most (and don’t freak if it’s NOT the traditional school at home one!) then it’s much easier to weed out curriculum choices.
    For instance if you are school at home you will appreciate ABEKA, ALpha Omega, Bob Jones, etc. If you are not they will drive you insane!
    Charlotte Mason fans will appreciate – Cindy Rushton, Karen Andreola, and others (http://www.amblesideonline.com is a free website based on her works by the way)
    You get the picture………..
    K12/Virtual Acadamies by the way are traditional school at home as they truly are just the ps giving you curriculum. What’s wrong with this picture? Yes they do work for some but they also allow the ps a toehold in your home – and can be overwhelming.
    Personally I don’t beleive 7yo/1st Grade/2nd Grade require a canned curriculum. You can pick and choose just fine. Lots of reading aloud, nature study, play time, perhaps musical instruction and the basics of math, reading and writing are more than sufficent for this age. You can cover science, history, geography, etc just with life- a little creativity.You can also find great unit studies on the web for free easily for this age and utilitze your public library. One link is: http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/schoolro… – just search for unit studies or free unit studies.http://www.timberdoodle.com also has great recommendations and they are cheap and fast. I would start there after the Elijah Company site.
    Many homeschoolers start out with traditional and switch soon or use a mixture of materials.
    You can do it!!!
    ps— you will also find that there may be several “sacred cows” in the hsing community. Ignore these if they don’t work for you and move on. For instance – we tried Saxon for several years and finally ditched it last year. It just doesn’t work for us! There are lots of other math curriculums out there. The biggest thing is to use what you have.
    You might also check out http://www.homeschooloasis.com for articles on educating Mom – knowing what you beleive about education and school will help you make better choices.

  • That is such a loaded question. Can I suggest that you scour this blog as well as some of the other blogs on my blog roll. We all do reviews on curriculum. That way you will see what is good, what is bad and why.

    You also have to decide on what type of homeschooling curriculum you want to use. boxed, eclectic, unit etc. which will help you in the long run to pick the curriculum that will best suit you. Good luck and God bless.

  • an88mike

    I am homeschooling my 11 y/o this fall and have been working over the past 3 months to get his curriculum together. I am against boxed curriculums, because one, they are usually religious in nature, and second, I refuse for anyone to tell me what I must teach my child.
    Having said that, I needed a guideline to tell me what other 6th graders will be learning during that school year, and I got that information from my state board of education. I found a few texts at yard sales that reflected that information. I have found MANY books I will be using next year at http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php that I get for the cost of postage (website will explain it or I would be happy to answer questions). So with my textbook in hand, I found websites that provide lesson plans and worksheets. So we are doing Language Arts (spelling, grammar, writing, reading comprehension), Science (Earth Science including Oceanography, Astronomy, etc), Math, and Social Studies. In addition, we plan Health & Anatomy, Sign Language, and Computer Applications. I have included some helpful links below.http://www.internet4classrooms.com/k12li…http://www.solutionsforhomeschool.com/to…http://www.csun.edu/~hcedu013/onlineacti…http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/c…http://www.teach-nology.com/subjects/ (one of my favorites)http://www.asluniversity.com/asl101/inde…http://science.education.nih.gov/ (NIH will send you science curriculum-I have received 3 workbooks already)http://www.kidsnutrition.org/consumer/ar…
    I have many more, but that is a start. There are TOO many resources out there to spend money on boxed curriculums!!


    If you are looking for child-friendliest, try time4learning… in lower grades it is like playing… you will need to supplement with workbooks.

  • homescho

    Julie – this is really difficult to answer without knowing you or your child. You are right – there’s tons of excellent curricula out there (and plenty more that just stinks). The best curricula is the one that works with your teaching style, but more importantly, with your daughter’s learning style. Cathy Duffy’s reviews are really good, as she labels the different curricula as being best for “perfect Paula”, “sociable Sue”, “wiggly Willie”, and “competent Carl”. Knowing your child’s learning style is the first step to finding the right curriculum.
    BTW – don’t feel that you need to purchase “boxed” curriculum (everything from one supplier, like Bob Jones Univ. or A Beka). The best thing to do is start with one subject, see how that works, make changes (if necessary), then add another subject and repeat.
    Best wishes on this great adventure!

  • dragonfl

    Curriculum should be chosen based upon the needs of each individual. It depends on how much time you have to spend teaching your child directly, the child’s needs, personality, and level of interest in learning.
    I plan to use a combination of Memoria Press and The Well-Trained Mind, and to supplement that with classical literature when my daughter(4) is older.

  • A.J.

    You can do ACE ( Accelerated Christian Education)
    that’s what my parents are doing for us. But i suggest you only start this with young children and work them up. If you put a child above 10 into this curriculum for the first time, they’ll be behind by more of the other students in their grade.

  • MommyDon

    ACE- Accelerated Christian Education- Paces by School Of Tomorrow are the best. I graduated doing that program. It’s a learn at your own pace.

  • MSB

    I don’t think there is a best, I think it’s about finding one that works for you. Try to find a curriculum fair near you, or a homeschool swap– somewhere you can browse the materials. Remember, also, that what curriculum suits your child for reading, might not be the best for math.
    Just as an alternative option:
    I create my kids curriculum. We’ve got a strict budget, by not buying boxed curriculums we leave a lot of funds for other things, such as classes, museum memberships, good science kits and art supplies, field trips, etc. By creating my own, I am able to really custom fit it to my child’s needs, abilities, and interests.
    We don’t use tests or grades, we focus part of the day (anywhere from 30 min to a couple of hours) on learning basic skills– phonics, math, language arts, writing, spelling & reading. We use book store workbookis, hand-me-down school text books and worksheets we print for free on the internet, as well as library books.
    The rest of the subjects we learn through doing unstructured units, which the kids do sometimes as a team and sometimes individually. They choose a topic and then they can read books, magazines, do internet research, watch a video, play games, make projects or exibits or do experiments or go on field trips– all revolving around the topic for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. They also take classes that interest them with our co-op and community centers, plus have some clubs and groups like library reading group and chess club.
    Good luck!

  • ASD & DYS Mum

    As others have said, the best is what works for your DD’s learning style and what works for your teaching style.
    Since you want input, though, I’ll tell you what we’ve used for over four years – K12, Inc. We don’t use it through a virtual school; we purchase it ourselves as independent HS’ers (“Consumer Direct”).
    K12 teaches to all learning styles and the planning and progress tools are *wonderful* – especially when you’re just starting out HS’ing. I like to have lots of data and see it visually, so it’s great for me. Also, the plan is completely dynamic, not static, like a printed plan book. That is awesome!
    You can attend a virtual online info seminar and gain access to a one-week demonstration account to see the heart of the system. K12’s materials are great, too.
    K12’s scope & sequence is based on the Core Knowledge sequence, plus a lot of great classical and moral stuff put in, in addition to great info based on K12’s extensive cognitive research. It’s secular, but we use it even as Christians. I love, love, love it as does my son.http://www.k12.com

  • hsmommy0

    I don’t believe in boxed curriculums. They are like schools trying to do a one size fits all. I say look around and pick and choose. It usually takes trial and error before you find which one is best for your daughter. You can also put your own curriculum together for free if you have the time and will. You can find almost anything on the internet by doing the right searches.

  • simonsay

    I agree with previous answers that the best curriculum is the one that works for your child.
    We found this site and info very valuable in choosing curriculum for our family. They put a sample of each curriculum in a box for you to browse through so you are not blindly buying.http://www.3moms.com/html/homeschool_cur…

  • mom21gr8

    It is an amazing array of choices isn’t it? It is true that what is best and most kid friendly depends highly on what your family values in education and what style of learning appeals to your kiddo. So first step, take a deep breath and resist those impulses to purchase large amounts of curriculum until you have sorted some of those issues out. Next, go to your library, bookstore, or Amazon and pick up a copy of Creative Homeschooling for Smart Families by Lisa Rivero. It goes over many approaches to homeschooling (along with lists of resources) to help you decide what you think will fit your family and your child.
    While you are sorting through these fundamental issues, I know you will be going crazy feeling like you need to get busy and get something school like done! Pick out a good math curriculum such as Singapore math – http://www.singaporemath.com/
    or Right Start Math – http://www.alabacus.com/
    or Kitchen table math – http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/Books…
    See which one appeals to you and your daughter and give it a try.
    While at the library or bookstore, pick up the book Deconstructing Peguins. It is a wonderful book on how to discuss literature with children. Read some of the books it talks about with your daughter and discuss away!
    Have your daughter pick a topic she’d like to learn about and pick up reading level appropriate books at the library to discuss, and then a few videos on the topic and related field trips if she maintains her interest. The children’s librarian can be your best friend.
    Now, you have some serious learning going on, and you’ve had time to begin to sort through what your expectations are for homeschooling. You’ve probably got a better idea of what your daughter likes, what kind of schedule she thrives on, and a bit more about her strengths and weaknesses. Now you can start adding on what you would like to do for handwriting, spelling/phonics, grammar, science, social studies, music, art, foreign language etc. Check out the homeschool buyers co-op for great free curriculum and group buy offers. http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/hom…
    And of course, rule number one – Have Fun!

  • BraxOwl

    There is no answer to this question. The best thing about homeschooling is that it can be customized to the students needs and learning styles. What is best for one student will not be best for another.
    I would suggest you find a homeschool group or a homeschool homeschool fair and attempt to look at the various curriculum and decide which would fit your daughter best. I know that A Beka (http://www.ABeka.com) travels with material displays. They have EVERY SINGLE ITEM available for viewing and you can look it over before you order.
    We personally use A Beka for our curriculum, although we have substituted or enhanced that curriculum with other materials.
    Good luck homeschooling! My children are going into grades 4 and 2 and have been homeschooled from the beginning. We knew when our oldest was very young that we were going to homeschool and spent a lot of time researching. I am glad we did, because there is so much information available and options to choose from that it could be overwhelming!

  • busymom

    The choices are indeed vast, and to new home school families they can be positively mind boggling.
    Remember the only curriculum worth a penny, or for that matter “kid friendly” is the one that works for your child.
    I do not believe in “boxed curriculum’s”, they are to prescriptive for us, but some families really need that kind of scheduled structure.
    You will not know what works until you have found out through trail, and error what her learning, and your teaching style is.
    When beginning to home school buy only the basics; math, spelling, grammar, and a writing workbook.
    All other books can be borrowed from the library; history, science, and all those subjects.
    If you spend $400.00 to $500.00 on a curriculum you may be tempted to make it work no matter what, and totally defeat the purpose of individualized home schooling.
    Most parents are very reluctant to put such an expensive investment aside, and try a different approach.
    Find a local support group, or visit a home school convention in your, or your neighboring state; these provide informational workshops, and vendors are there to show you their curriculum’s, and books.
    We do use Christian Liberty Press as our curriculum foundation, but have chosen an eclectic approach, meaning we pull from many sources, depending on the child’s learning preference.
    CLP won our vote for both solid academics, and price; they are very inexpensive.
    We use the classical – unschooling approach; meaning relax, and let the schedule be a guide, not gospel.http://ebiz.netopia.com/clpress/http://unschooling.com/
    Good luck.
    Simonsays gave you a good web link; I forgot all about that web site, it has been so long since we searched for beginning materials.

  • hometeac

    All these responses to your question must be overwhelming too. I’d like to suggest that you figure out first how your children would learn best, and then if you want a curriculum that is extremely structured, or one that is a little less that leaves you with more room to do things you want. I can only tell you that I myself have done Calvert, and it tells you exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. It will give your child a great education. It gave me confidence, but my kids didn’t enjoy it, and inturn it was a misrible experience. My older daughter hated homeschooling, and I don’t want my other 2 to feel that way also. I have 4 other friends who decided that the program was too hard and unenjoyable and are looking for other curriculums.
    I re-evaluated what I wanted out of my homeschooling experience with my children, and the program that I found that best suited my children’s interest and my structure is Oak Meadow Curriculum. It’s structure with hands on activities, and more free time for field trips, etc. They looked thru the books and are real excited to get started. The only thing about this is that it gives you the material you need to cover for the week and you decide how and when you will do it. I love this concept, but I’m still in the process of making this work.
    I found Oak Meadow by searching on the internet “homeschooling curriculums” reviews, or just “homeschooling” reviews. Also, the book “Homeschooling, take a deep breath – You can do this” by Terrie Lynn Bittner has a section using ready made plans or building your own. You can probably find this book at your local library, I did mine.
    Hope this helps.

  • wat_more

    i studied under A Beka Academy all my life and it’s fantastic. students learn by DVD following a curriculum.
    i like the method of teaching because they lay a good foundation. and each new year they review last year’s work before adding on. the projects in the upper grades all help to prepare students for college. i know many who went through A Beka Academy who have entered universities 😀

  • Jessie P

    I have found that we do better WITHOUT a boxed curriculum. We print worksheets off the internet and buy a select few workbooks. (my favorite is the “Learn at Home” series by McGraw-Hill) We also get a few text books from our local book depository for free. (check with your school system to see if you have one near you)

  • Alexandr

    I was homeschooled from k-12 and now am in college. Saxon math was by far the most effective math curriculum I ever used. Abeka is excellent for grammar and Bob Jones is excellent over all.

  • Ms. Phyllis

    The best homeschooling curriculum is one which your child can learn the most from and has fun and is not bored to tears or frustrated to tears from. I am now homeschooling my 7-year-old son, and we will be finishing up 1st grade around the end of August. (I just began homeschooling in mid-November, 2006.)
    I think most beginning homeschoolers feel more comfortable using a set curriculum; however, I began homeschooling with an open mind. I consider myself to be an eclectic homeschooler, and I am using whatever works for my son. So far, after one major change from a “set” curriculum to our current eclectic approach, our homeschooling year has been successful.
    The following has worked for us:
    Christian Liberty Press (Adventures in Phonics; Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1; Spelling Book 1; Phonics Readers, K level; Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook; & Lessons from the Farmyard)
    My son likes the Christian Liberty books, and their curriculum is extremely affordable; we’re only using certain books–not the entire 1st grade curriculum.
    What Your First Grader Needs to Know (Edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.)
    Math for Your 1st and 2nd Grader: All You Need to Know to Be Your Child’s Best Teacher (Author: Steve Slavin)
    Time4Learning (online home education)
    starfall.com (Learn to read website for pre-K to 2nd grade)
    spellingtime.com (spelling website for 1st to 5th graders)
    Many other books, lessons, projects, field trips, sports classes, etc.
    If you would like to e-mail me off list, please feel free to do so.
    I hope the aforementioned is helpful.

  • MrsMac

    I’m tempted like all the other mothers to say, “The best thing is what works for you and yours”, but I know that that is not what you want.
    What you want is for someone to give you a head start, cheaply, so you can figure out what is going to work. I was lucky, because the first child I homeschooled wasn’t my own, and the mother gave me some books and I improvised the rest.
    Seven is a wonderful age! Can your daughter read? If not I recommend A beka’s “Fun with Pets”. After you read that book a gazillion times with your daughter you will be able to start her reading anything and just point out the “special sounds” or “sight words” as you go. My four year old and two other kids I homeschooled learned to read using this book. My three year old even knows all the sounds the letters make because of this book. Her big brother ‘teaches’ her.
    Any computer games by “The Learning Company” are great for teaching and re-enforcing age appropriate concepts, just don’t leave them alone with the game or they’ll learn to ‘cheat’.
    I also like A beka’s math early grade workbooks, because they’re colourful and engage the kids, gradually working them into every concept so that you rarely have to ‘teach’ anything.
    Science and History can pretty much be done at the library with whatever your kids are interested in.
    “English” can be done with a ‘journal’, where the date, your child’s name and a short blurb about whatever happened yesterday or whatever can be written down and ‘corrected’ by you.
    Spelling can be done by choosing words that are commonly used and that the child has trouble reading or writing. Months, days of the week, numbers and sight words are some very useful things to start out ‘spelling’. Do ten words a week, have a ‘test’ at the end of the week and give checks and stickers for jobs well done.
    Good luck!
    And remember don’t forget to love your child! (It’s possible to get so caught up in goal setting and goal reaching that you forget to laugh and cuddle and do all the stuff mothers do with children to teach them the most valuable lesson ever, that they are loved!

  • Daddys Girl

    One of the best Is Life pac It is Explanitor and Very kids friendly! Also Rod and staff It is Ver good as well!
    Hope this Helps And Good luck in you homeschooling Journey!

  • harv3st3

    Don’t feel like you must have your curriculum right now (or that you need to have one at all). It took me a year to find the right resources for us. I’m a “traditional,” workbook based home schooler and have been home schooling for almost 3 years.
    While I searched around, I got core curriculum workbooks (math, science, etc.) from local educational book stores and Walmart. They are those books that are meant to be used as extra practice, but I found they did the job until I found my groove. I especially liked the ones called “Math Smart,” “English Smart,” etc., and “Big First (second, third, etc.) Grade Workbook.”
    Right now I use curriculum from all over: Singapore Math, language arts from the Caribbean, etc. As long as it works.
    Relax! You will be home schooling, so your child will be way ahead of the game. She won’t “fall behind” like some uninformed people (mostly family and nosey neighbours) might suggest.
    Breathe! All the best!

  • Janis B

    I read once how a new home school mom was confused by response to this question. She said the answers were evasive. She understood better after home schooling for awhile. There is no ‘best’. What is best for our family may not be best for your family.
    We are eclectic. We use free and cheap.

  • Shira S.

    Hi all..I am very new to this..I have an 11 year old son who has LD as well as dysgraphia and dyslexia. Right now we are in our public elementary school and he will be going into 6th grade in Sept. He gets every service available to him, speech, OT, resource room and a few more services and accommodations have been added to his IEP for Sept. My concern is for when he enters middle school in 7th grade. I don't think..well I almost know for sure that he will not be able to handle it..he can barely make it through a day now and to have 8 different teachers instead of 2 and the amount of work as well as the enormity of the school itself and I don't think they will qualify him for an aid (not that I think that would really be the biggest help), I was thinking my only option might be to homeschool at that point..does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you for your input it is so very appreciated =]

  • Shira,

    Can I first sugest that you go to HSLDA and check out some of the book suggestions/resources that have for homeschooling parents with LD as well as dysgraphia and dyslexia. Homeschooling would for sure take the anxiety out of schooling for him as well as for you. He would be able to take things at his own pace instead of at a class room pace.

    Can I just say that you are almost at the end of the school year right now.  At lease where I live there is only about 3 more weeks of public school left. It is up to you, but seems like letting him finish up these last 2 or 3 weeks would be ok. then through the summer, start searching and looking through curriculum that would benefit him and work with his abilities as well as your teaching style.

    Connect with other homeschoolers in your area right now and start looking over their curriculum and asking to borrow it and take it home and REALLY read it over. Not the skimming over we tend to do at someone's house. Go onto Yahoo and do a search for used homeschool curriculum,. There are many boards out there that sell their curriculums at very low to almost nothing cost except for shipping. You never know you might find one in your area.

    Lastly, don;t be afraid to get your child's opinion of the curriculum. Your son is old enough at this point to help you out and give an opinion of what he might or might not like. With this input he will most likely want to use it as well as be willing to work with you better on down days when he knows he has chosen the curriculum. HOWEVER, just like us moms, a kid can make an error too and end up not liking a curriculum they have chosen. Feel free to always scrap a curriculum that is not working and get something new.

    It may take you a year or so to really get the swing of homeschooling, but hand with it, it will be well worth it in the end. Your son has some difficulties ahead of him with learning and with homeschooling I feel that those difficulties can be minimize a lot as long as you keep a cool and patient head.

    Good luck to you!!

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