It’s the question that gets asked every time you meet another mom and find out she homeschools too: What curriculum do you use? The curriculum picks they’ve chosen can determine whether or not you will be BFF’s or if you will ever bother to speak to that person again. Okay…that’s a bit drastic. But, it IS a question that has come up in the first conversation I have with someone once I know they homeschool. Sometimes they bring it up, sometimes I bring it up…inevitably it comes up.
Why is that? Why do we need to know what curriculum our new homeschooling friend uses? I think there are two main reasons. First, since no one hands us a “How to Homeschool” manual once we’ve made the decision, we are constantly second guessing ourselves. Am I doing this right? Did I miss something? Am I failing my kids? The need to measure ourselves, our choices, our progress, against other homeschooling families is an urge most homeschoolers constantly battle (and battle against it you must!). The second main reason we ask about another mom’s curriculum picks…it’s the “grass is always greener” syndrome. We do our research, pick a curriculum, and get all excited when our books and supplies come in. And then halfway through the year the novelty fades. We start looking at what other moms are using with their kids thinking maybe if we tried THAT curriculum then somehow things would be better. Everyday of homeschooling would be filled with happy, obedient, children that beg you to do school all day long and cheer when you break out the Colonial America lapbook you planned for them to do today.
The reality is, there is no perfect curriculum, just the perfect one for your family. It sounds so cliché, I know, but trust me it is SO true!
When I first decided to homeschool I researched, and researched…and then researched some more. There are so many options, styles, methods that it can be so overwhelming. Especially for someone just starting out. That’s why I’ve put together this list of my curriculum picks. I will be covering Bible and Math in this post, and Language Arts, History, and Science in a Part 2 post, so make sure to check that one out as well! You can find it here!
My 2018-2019 Curriculum Picks
Most of my choices were made based on my research of different companies and their curriculum. I narrowed those down by weeding out the ones I knew I didn’t want. The ones that were internet based, all in one packages, or really expensive I tossed. When possible I got sample lessons from the company, borrow copies from my homeschool association’s resource room, or borrowed a friend’s copy. I also talked to several friends to see why they chose their curriculum and what they liked and didn’t like about it. That’s what I hope to do for you here. Your friendly friend LJ, giving my reasons for my curriculum picks and what I like and don’t like about each. (Spoiler alert: there’s not much I don’t like about these!)
Start with the basics!
My oldest is still in early elementary, so my suggestions will be based on that age group. With children this age, the most important subjects are:
- Language Arts
Some people will tell you that you don’t need History or Science until Second Grade, but my daughter was begging me to do both. At this age children are sponges and love to learn new facts, hear new stories, and see new things. So if your child is like mine then go ahead and add in a History and Science. Make it age appropriate, keep the lessons short, but most of all make it FUN!
And now without further ado, here are my curriculum picks for the 2018-2019 school year:
This subject was by far the hardest for me to choose a curriculum. I wanted something age appropriate, fun, covered the basics, but that had some depth. My daughter asks lots of questions, so I wanted more than just a story Bible.
I ended up choosing The Bible Road Trip. You can check it out here.
I chose this curriculum because it had a bit of everything I wanted:
- memory verses that were age appropriate
- a complete Bible survey over 3 years
- increases in depth as child gets older
- incorporates prayer for other peoples
- introductory study on other religions and cultures and how we can pray for them
- has he option for crafts and projects
- can be done with children of different ages all at once (which was a huge plus for me) from k-12
- the price was right!
We have been enjoying this curriculum so far. It has sparked many great conversations with my daughter. If I had to list any “cons” it would be:
- The format takes a bit to get used to. The first time I looked into this curriculum I was confused and a bit overwhelmed. I ended up shelving it for several weeks and kept looking around. After more looking and not finding anything I liked, I went back to this, sat down, read through the sample packet and finally understood the format. It wasn’t bad once I took the time to really look it over. On a daily basis, it is very easy to use.
- The schedule is a bit aggressive. A lot is covered each week and it could take up much of your school day. This was another easy fix for us, though. We ended up spreading each week out over two weeks. This works better for my 1st grader. When she is older we may go back to the schedule as is, but for now this works well for us!
The Thinking Kids Press website is a great resource for Bible related studies. I highly encourage you to check it out. They are constantly putting out new material. Sign up for their newsletter to get info on new products, a 3 week sample of their Bible Road Trip, and their frequent sales!
I LOVE math! Loved it as a kid in school and love it as an adult. So it was important to me that our math curriculum be challenging AND fun. So far, we only have one child doing math and she has tested as above her “grade level” so I felt comfortable with giving her a challenging curriculum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to turn her into a 7 year old rocket scientist, I just want her to be stretched a little for where she is at, and she is doing great, but more importantly, LOVING math!
I chose Singapore Math as her curriculum for Kindergarten, and now 1st grade. You can find their website here.
I loved the Kindergarten level. Singapore’s Kindergarten math is made up of 2 workbooks, part A, and part B. My daughter had so much fun with the workbooks. It felt more like a puzzle or activity book than a school book. My daughter often begged to do more pages than I had planned for her.
I chose Singapore Math for Kindergarten because in my opinion it covered a great amount of foundational topics in a fun way. Below you can see pictures of the Units and topics covered over the course of the year.
The 1st grade level was a bit different and took a little time to adjust to the format. There are also different editions to choose from, we chose the CA Standards Edition. If you would like to see a post about the different editions and why we chose this edition, leave a comment below.
First grade levels and above come with 3 books for Part A, and 3 books for Part B. There is a Instructor’s Guide, a textbook, and a workbook. It did take a little while for me to wrap my head around the format and Instructor’s guide. Once I did, it was pretty easy to use day to day. However, I would not say that this is an open and go curriculum. I found that I needed to look at the instructor’s guide ahead of sitting down with my daughter to go over the hands on portion of the lesson so that I could understand what the objective was, and also to gather any materials I may need which were always simple household objects.
The format seems to be a hands on introduction to the lesson, then it is applied to examples in the textbook, and finally the student works through a few pages in the workbook that cover the material. I normally sit and teach my daughter during the hands on and textbook portions, and I can usually giver her instructions on the workbook pages and let her do the problems on her own. Sometimes she needs help getting started on the workbook pages and once she understands she can work independently, but that is to be expected at this age.
We have gone slower than the instructor’s guide sample schedule suggests. My daughter needed more time to memorize her addition facts, so I have slowed down to give her that time. I made sure she understands the concept, and am now using flashcards to help her memorize the addition facts. We did continue on in the books while we work on the flash cards. That’s the beauty of homeschooling, you can work at your child’s pace!
I do think I will start with Singapore for my other children. I feel like Singapore offers the opportunity to teach different kinds of learners, so we will see how this curriculum works for them.
Language Arts, History, and Science
My picks for Language Arts, History, and Science are in Part 2 of this post. You can find it here!
I hope reading about why I chose these curricula for our family helps you as you make your decisions for your family! Each family, and even each child has different needs for how they learn, but I do feel that the curricula I have chosen is able to be used with several different learning styles!
I would love to hear your comments and questions! What would you like to know about how we homeschool? Is there a subject of company that I’ve mentioned that you would like me to talk more about? Let me know below!