When we first decided that we were going to homeschool, I spent so many hours researching curriculum, that if you added them all up they would probably equal a full week or more. I was so panicked that I would choose the wrong books or educational philosophy and ruin my kids’ education. Anyone else out there like me? Frantically searching pinterest and google for curriculum reviews?
Oh friend, you’re not alone. And here’s the unfortunate news I have for you. Until you dig into a curriculum in your homeschool, you won’t know what curriculum will work out in your family. We “officially” started homeschooling around May or June of 2014. Mr. C flew through the curriculum that we got him, and we have changed every single curriculum that we chose going into his “first grade” year that we started in September. Now we’re pretty happy with our homeschool curriculum choices, and I’ll be sharing those here! First we’ll cover the core subjects [reading, writing, and math] and next week we’ll cover the extras.
Homeschool Curriculum: Core Subjects
So when we first started out, we tried Math-U-See. It is a great curriculum, but my son really didn’t need the hands on manipulatives that the curriculum used. It ended up wasting a lot of time, so we just started only doing the worksheets. The worksheets are fairly boring, all black and white, so we needed something more exciting and advanced.
Enter Abeka Arithmetic! Okay, no throwing stones, homeschoolers, but we’re a workbook family. Mr. C, like me, really just loves to learn and isn’t as excited by all the extras. I absolutely love Abeka’s math program because they review things regularly, without being obnoxious. The worksheet is filled with full color pictures, too, which always makes math seem more fun!
Alright, I’m going to level with you guys. I’m a reading nerd. I can whip through a novel in a few hours, and when I was a kid my parents had to check on me regularly because I was constantly in my room reading my newest book. I really, really want my boys to love reading as much as I did because I truly believe that reading is magic. It takes you into another world. Okay, off my soap box, and back to homeschool curriculum!
To start out for reading, we got Mr. C Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons which we really enjoyed. It’s so inexpensive that it was easy for his biological dad to get one to keep at his house to use as well. I really recommend this book as a starting point for learning to sound out words. It was quick and easy (we skipped the writing portions) for the first 50-6o lessons. We didn’t finish the whole book because once he was reading we felt it was time to switch to something more structured.
Again, for this subject we went with Abeka. I really feel that it gives kids a broad understanding of phonics without focusing heavily on sight words. We use the Handbook For Reading and the Language 1 and Phonics and Reading 1 workbooks. These are a recent start for us, but so far we’re enjoying it. We didn’t purchase all the charts and games and books that Abeka provides, but we’re making it work. :)
When Mr. C was done with the 100 easy lessons book, but we hadn’t yet received all of the Abeka books, we used Bob Books
which I love. We used set 2, advancing beginners and they fit Mr. C’s reading level perfectly. They’re written phonetically and there are very few sight words used [OK, the, a, etc]. We are still using these books on top of Abeka for reading practice, and they actually have entertaining stories that Mr. C loves to read over and over again!
For this, I really mean handwriting. We haven’t started official writing instruction yet because I believe that we need to have a firm grasp on how to write letters and words before we can begin writing thoughts. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we started last summer using Handwriting Without Tears at the kindergarten level. I really like this program. They have a lot of hands on instruction and different ways for kids to learn the letters. However, again, Mr. C just didn’t need the hands on materials, and we ended up just using the workbook. He was doing two pages a day and could have done more if I let him, so we definitely needed something more for starting first grade.
Finally, something that’s not Abeka! We chose A Reason for Handwriting, and I am so happy that we did. My son absolutely loves this curriculum because he gets to write about God and Jesus, and those are his favorite words! This curriculum uses a five day schedule. The first 3 days are spent practicing letters or words that will be used in a Bible verse that they trace on the fourth day. Then the fifth day, they get to choose a paper with pretty border to write their Bible verse in their very best handwriting. They get to color the border and you can either make a book of these to have at the end of the year, or you can send them to friends and family to share God’s Word.
So that’s what we’re using for my four year old first grader! What kind of homeschool curriculum works for your family? Did you spend a ton of time researching like I did, or just pick the first thing you found?