Every year I get emails asking what curriculum we’re using. The truth is, finding the right homeschool curriculum is a lot like finding a perfect pair of jeans. It takes a lot of looking and trying on, and in the end, what’s a good fit for me isn’t necessarily a good fit for you. Regardless, after many years of homeschooling under my belt, I am ordering our curriculum with confidence this year- all of the curriculum I’m using is Lacy tested and approved. 😉
Before we move on, I want to insert here that for preschoolers I am a huge fan of Montessori style learning, and for Elementary students, I have become a huge fan of the Charlotte Mason style education. It’s a very gentle approach to learning, and our family loves it. I make no attempt to re-create a school at home. In fact, I almost think the term “home educators” would be better than “homeschoolers”, and I’m not a fan of textbooks or tests, so I avoid them when I can… although I have found that Math and Spelling really do seem to call for these things.
I have found over the years that it works much better for me to have curriculum that involves very little to no prep work at all. For all the time I spend prepping, hunting down books, printing, and searching on Pinterest for supplements… this is time that I am not spending schooling my children. And I simply can’t afford that time loss. This is why I highly prefer to buy mostly all inclusive curriculum at this point. I do still write my own Religion curriculum as I go- it’s my passion.
Subjects Covered Together
We always start the homeschool day together, and I combine as many subjects into this gathering time as possible. One of our big motivations for homeschooling is family togetherness, and I find that studying many subjects together (including Religion) creates togetherness and encourages discussion among the kids.
- Science– Real Science 4 Kids, Geology. We did their Chemistry program last year and loved it. It’s very easy to get through over the year, and I love how visual it is. I find that these books really explain things in a way that is interesting to kids, and in a way that they can truly understand. We use the textbook, lab workbook, and teacher book. (For some curriculum we don’t get all the pieces, but for this one, we do.)
- Grammar– First Language Lessons For The Well Trained Mind Level 2. We did level 1 this past year, and I love the format. It’s mostly oral, and I like the mixture of poetry memory and stories as well.
- History– A Child’s History Of The World plus narration, possibly some notebooking, and our Book of Centuries. A Child’s History of the World gets mixed reviews over the first few chapters, and many parents choose to start a few chapters in. Feel free to read the first several chapters to yourself first and choose what you’d like to read to your children.
- Read Aloud books– we are looking to increase our read aloud time this year to 2 hours a day, and I have set up many guidelines for staying on track. We will be reading a mixture of chapter books and picture books on topics including nature study, Saint stories, poetry, virtue stories, History, Science, and plenty of stories that are just for fun. 🙂
- Religion– Finishing up Tell Me About The Catholic Faith from last year. Also, Julian will be doing my First Communion Program, and the other kids will participate in this as well. This is a program that I wrote for Lydia during her FHC prep, and I will be repeating it with Julian. I will be publishing this in it’s completed form before next Fall, but if your child is making his or her First Communion this school year, it’s not ready for the public yet. If your child is making her or her First Communion next year, pencil me in. 😉
Charlotte Mason Co-op:
Each Wednesday, we meet with one other family (8 kids between the 2 of us) and have a Charlotte Mason co-op. We started this last year, and it was very successful, so we are not re-inventing the wheel this year. Here’s what we cover at co-op.
- Charlotte Mason style picture studies and matching artist studies (3 artists per year)
- Art production class to go along with current artist
- Charlotte Mason style music studies along with matching composer studies (3 composers per year)
- Composing, music reading, and music concepts
- Hymn studies (6 per year)
- Poetry teas
Being a part of this co-op insures that our fine arts do not fall between the cracks, and this enriches our homeschool so much! I have never regularly fit fine arts into our homeschool before designating one day of the week for it, and it has not a problem to get our book work done on the other 4 school days of the week.
Lydia- age 9, 4th grade:
- Math– Teaching Textbooks 5. I love Teaching Textbooks. I hear from a lot of parents that they don’t want their kids doing Math on the computer because they want them to do Math on paper. The reality is, for the most part, Lydia has to copy the problem on paper, work it, then input the answer. This actually makes for more Math writing than a workbook. Also, I find it very valuable that the computer instantly corrects the child so they don’t think they got it right and just move on, meaning we have to “unlearn” that behavior and re-learn the correct way. Plus, I was never good about checking the Math in a timely fashion when we used workbooks. This curriculum is totally worth the money also because it can be re-used kid after kid. We only get the discs, not the giant workbook that goes with it. I also love that Teaching Textbooks gives my kids a feel for actual quizzes and grades.
- Spelling– All About Spelling. We have been using this program for years and love it. This is another curriculum where you can put multiple children through the same book, so again, worth the value. PS we don’t actually use the dry erase board or the letter tiles anymore- I found them cumbersome past a certain point. I still love the layout of the lessons, the way that it involves no prep, the way you move on only when the concept is mastered, and I love the flash cards. Also, I love how simply they lay out the spelling “rules” and how you get to throw the “rule breakers” in jail.
- Writing– IEW, All Things Fun & Fascinating. This is the only curriculum I am purchasing for the upcoming year that I haven’t tried before. I hear lots of good things about IEW, so I’m hoping to like it.
- Handwriting– A Reason For Handwriting, D. Lydia started cursive last year with this program, and it has gone very well. They love choosing their own border and making 1 beautiful Bible verse to display each week. I have found the teacher book completely unnecessary to this program, so I would suggest ordering only the workbooks.
- Phonics– Explode the Code 7. This is Lydia’s first year in Explode the Code, but it helped so much with Julian last year that I’m putting everyone in it this year. I like these because the kids can do them independently, these books are very affordable, and the lessons are quick to complete.
- Critical Thinking– Think A Minutes Level A, Book 2. I have loved everything I have ever tried from the Critical Thinking Company. Although this book says grades 2-3, it’s a good fit for Lydia this year.
Julian- age 7, 2nd grade:
- Math– Teaching Textbooks 3. See my blurb about how much I love this program above (under Lydia’s Math.) I will insert here that the lowest grade they offer is 3rd grade, but I have my kids start it in 2nd. This isn’t because we’re over achievers, it’s because it really does seem to be more “on grade level” to stay 1 year ahead in Teaching Textbooks, and they seem ready for it at this time. PS. He is going straight into Lydia’s old discs with no new expense to me this year. Whoo hoo! 😉
- Spelling– All About Spelling. Julian has been in All About Reading for the last few years, but I’m switching him over. I find it too redundant to do both at the same time, and have discovered that I like the All About Reading for younger kids because it comes with workbooks and cute readers. This seems like the right time to switch him over.
- Writing– Journal entry each day. I might start him on something a little more structured at some point during the year, but he’s just not ready yet. For now, I’m just aiming to help him get some thoughts on paper.
- Handwriting– A Reason For Handwriting, B. Julian also loved this program last year. (read more under Lydia’s Handwriting.)
- Phonics– Explode the Code 5. (read more under Lydia’s Phonics.)
- Critical Thinking– Mind Benders, K-2. I love the Critical Thinking Company, but there stuff is no joke. It’s very thinky, so I don’t push grade level on these at all.
Violet- age 5, Kindergarten:
- Math– Critical Thinking Company Mathematical Reasoning A. Violet isn’t yet old enough for Teaching Textbooks, and I’ve tried other computer Math programs in the past and hated them. And I mean like, breaking-down-and-buying-new-curriculum-in-weeks hate. That’s a strong hate. Anywho, I really like the Critical Thinking Company’s Math. It’s very visual and really well rounded.
- Reading– All About Reading 1. The best part is, I only have to replace the workbook to use this with Violet. She absolutely loved Pre All About Reading last year, so I’m expecting a smooth transition.
- Extra Reading Practice– Explode The Code Book 1.
- Handwriting– A Reason For Handwriting, K. This will make her a part of what the big kids are doing, which she loves, and this Kindergarten book is well done. It also includes some pictures to color, and Violet loves to color.
Anabelle- age 3, Preschool:
- Catholic ABC’s. I mean, what did you expect. 😉 I wrote it because it’s the approach I wanted to use with my own kiddos. Next year, when she is actually Pre-K, we will go through the letter of the week format again, kicking it up a notch the second time around. Find all of my preschool resources here.
Curriculum We Have Enjoyed In Past Years:
- Adventures In America History Curriculum. Everything online said this was for Kindergartners, but I found that it worked very well for Lydia and Julian last year (3rd and 1st grades.) I totally recommend it.
- 106 Days of Creation– Really fun Science curriculum for elementary kids that incorporates nature study.
One More Tip For Choosing Curriculum: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! There’s always some new shiny curriculum that the homeschool moms are going running towards at 100 miles an hour, but finding what works for you and your children is homeschool gold. 🙂
For further detailed reading about Homeschool curriculum reviews, I strongly suggest checking out Cathy Duffy’s site. I love how she ranks how much parent involvement and prep time is needed for each curriculum, and if the teacher book is needed, among other things. When I’m totally stuck on a curriculum choice, I start narrowing it down by what’s on her top 101 picks list.
How about you? What curriculum have you loved?
Disclaimer: I was not paid by any of these companies to promote these materials. All opinions are my own, and are hopefully helpful from one homeschool mom to another. Most of these links are affiliate links, which help support the cost of running this site. Thanks. 🙂Pin It