Homeschooling: what curriculum do you use?

These days there is a huge variety of choice when it comes to homeschool curriculum, with almost as many good options are their are homeschooling families.  Below I am going to list my favorite curriculum.   I hope you will add your own favorites in comments, below.

MARY’S HOMESCHOOL FAVORITES


MATH
Grades K-3 — Alpha Omega Horizon
Grades 4 and up — Saxon math

SCIENCE

Beginning around 4th grade we start Apologia science
PHONICS and READING

ABeka Phonics

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

BOB books (very early readers)

Sonlight Curriculum -we don’t do the whole curriculum, but we have many of the readers.  I love the diversity of the characters, and the way each stories illuminates a specific place and time in history. (Many different reading levels here)

HISTORY

Childhood of Famous Americans– This very diverse series of biographies is great for kids 2nd-6th grade, and is another great way to get reading and history at the same time.

Note: The above link will take you to paperbackswap.com, a great way to get affordable books. If you look at the site and decide to sign up, list me (owlhaven at aol dot com) as the person who referred you, OK?  I’ll get a book credit, which will delight my kids, because they’ll get to pick books!
HANDWRITING

A Reason for Writing– Kids get writing practice by writing Bible verses

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Rosetta Stoneinsanely expensive, but really good.  Kids are able to work on their own, without parents having to know the language.

—————

OK, all experienced homeschoolers, it’s your turn. What homeschool curriculum do you love?

{ 46 Comments }

  1. When Mom homeschooled she loved the Calvert curriculum- it was fool proof for her. You get a box in the mail with EVERYTHING- lesson plans, textbooks, music books with CD’s for the younger kids…even paper and pencils! I think it runs about $800 a year, so it’s not CHEAP…but not too bad, either. (How does that compare to other curriculum??) We also used the Saxon math books- they’re fabulous!!

  2. I’ve been reading “The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A Creative and Stress-Free Approach to Homeschooling” by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore. It has helped me feel more confident that I can homeschool my 4 year old beyond pre-school. Does anyone have any experience with the “Moore approach” vs. other options? Pros/cons?

  3. Nicola, It has been a few years since I read that book, but I do know I LOVED it. Esp in the first years of school, being relaxed and low key is best!

  4. I use Ambleside Online. Also, Math U See, Apologia Science, Getting Started with Latin, and misc. books for Bible.

  5. I am 30 and was homeschooled from 4th-graduation.
    We used:
    Math: Saxon
    Science: PACE/A.C.E (LOVED THIS!!)
    Reading/English/Spelling: Bob Jones & ABeka
    Writing/Bible verse memorization: A reason for writing
    History: Bob Jones
    Foreign language: private tutors
    Music: Private piano lessons with a piano teacher who came to our house once a week.. as well as private lessons for Flute during highschool.
    Art/home ec. :4-H for Sewing .. once a week we had private sewing lessons with our 4-H teacher.. we were judged on our work at the end of the school year. I helped my mom cook most meals.
    For preschool-1st my mom used Sing, Spell Read & Write an awesome program for learning phonics.

    My childrens charter school uses Zoo Phonics .. I really like this program that utilizes a physical aspect to the memorization of the alphabet with the different sign/motion for each letter. Plus I love animals.

    As a graduate of homeschool the ONLY thing I feel was missing was a REAL/structured Art program.. once I was in college I saw what I had missed out on.. having access to a photography lab, a Jewlery studio (I’m not talking about stringing beads), Ceramics…. those 3 studio arts are NOT something that can be duplicated at home without unlimited funds… I feel Art is majorly overlooked in most homeschool ciriculums. As a person who discovered real Art once they reached College and someone who had art changed their life (this is how I am able to be a work at home mom, insted of a someone who has to work outside the home)… I guess I would urge all homeschool moms to really research Art.. make Art an IMPORTANT part of your ciriculum… teach your children about the famous artists… sign them up for art classes in your local art community. Fostering art from a young age will allow for creativity in other aspects including more creative writing & being more creative in science/engineering… I am not talking about sitting down with a box of dried noodles & string or making homemade playdough and letting them have at it (although this is great for preschoolers) .. I am talking about researching a famous artist with them for 1-2 weeks, learn about them, let the kids emulate their work. As a mom you can be proud of your little artist and look through their eyes to how they view a particular artists work. Seeing art though a childs eyes is just plain AWESOME!

  6. We use:
    Math: Math U See
    Reading for little ones: Headsprout.com
    Bible: Bible Study Guide for All Ages
    History: The Story of the World

    For everything else, we use good books from the library.

  7. We’re using Sonlight Curriculum and the whole family is loving it. We did opt for Singapore Math and haven’t regretted it for a moment. Its challenging our son to see math functions and try them different ways-which he is really enjoying. For us that is the strength of the program, for others that maybe the weakness:)

    but yes, I’m concerned about the art. They’re just books and the pictures are great as are the discussion questions but I’m hoping for ways to get child involved in doing art himself. Not just appreciation. Ideas?

  8. We are using:
    Sonlight
    Tapestry of Grace
    Math U See
    and more ….. 🙂

  9. We’re using Bob Jones almost all the way. For Spelling we’re using Building Spelling Skills and for Math we’re using Saxon. We did use Alpha Omega to start out homeschooling Kindergarten in Language arts and loved it, but the books for Bob Jones 1st grade were more appealing. Now for third grade, next year, I’m debating using AOP Switched on Schoolhouse for science and history. Still thinking this through.

  10. I’m a new lurker ( and not a greatly experienced homeschooler, with one going into 2nd and one into Kinder) but wanted to share today:

    Math: Singapore
    Everything else: Catholic Heritage Curricula

    Thanks!

  11. I am not a formal “homeschooler” and my children will be going to school outside the home; my 3 1/2 -year-old is starting preschool in three weeks. However, she is very bright, loves to learn and we enjoy spending “workbook” time together – I’m not satisfied just colouring from a plain colouring book all day, etc. As such, we worked on the Pre-K bridging activity book together this summer, something she would ask for each day (and wanted to do more than one page), as well as the Rod and Staff Publishers books for bible lessons and other. I can tell that she would love to start reading and we’re sounding out small words together, so I’m going to get that “100 days” reading book.

    I’m just curious from all the homeschool readers – do you think I might be “pushing” her a bit too much, even though she’s the one saying “Mommy, can we do my workbook”. I’m also worried that all the extra stuff we do at home could advance her too much and then she’s bored at school. I know she’s still very young and would imagine that the “structured” at-home learning will not last for years and years (though the every day lessons will).

    Mary, I’d love your experienced homeschooler thoughts on this. And any others. Thanks.

  12. We use The Weaver (www.aop.com) by Alpha Omega Publishing. It’s a 100% Bible based unit study curriculum. We use Weaver for social studies, science, Bible, spelling, penmanship and some creative writing.

    Grammar – Winston Grammar
    Math – Math U See and Lifepac Math
    Home Ec – Christian Light Education
    Latic/Greek Root Words – Vocabulary Vine by Nancy Hasseler
    Reading/Writing – my own program
    Typing – a Software program called Typing Instructor Platinum

    On another note, I’m curious as to why Jennifer thinks she needs to send her little girl to preschool if she enjoys having her Mommy teach her? NO judgment, just curious. Why end something that her daughter really loves?

  13. I use
    The Story of the World for history my kids love all the activvities.
    Apologia Science
    Teaching Textbooks not inexpensive but I can use it for more than one child and it turned my daughter around she loves it and I have heard that the pre algebra and those subjects are wonderful
    Grammar I am already switching for this year I started with Swtiched on Schoolhouse and I did not like it at all so going to do Easy Grammar now.
    Spelling – Sequential Spelling – finally made sense to my son I love it.
    Extras:
    Discovering Great Artists where we read about a famous artist and then do a painting using a technique similiar to the one they used.

  14. For math up to Algegra: Rod and Staff
    Algebra and beyond: Videotext Interactive

    Enlish: Rod and Staff

    Preschool/Kindergarten: Rod and Staff preschool workbooks…mainly so that they feel they are doing “work” too

    Everything else is done with literature and unit studies.

  15. This is our first year to homeschool, but I previously owned an educational supply store and taught in public and private schools, so I feel like I’m not a complete rookie. This is what we are doing with my 2nd grader.

    Math – Alpha Omega Horizons, we also use a computer game called Quarter Mile Math to reinforce and practice skills. It’s a great racing game, where they compete against their own personal best scores in a huge variety of skills.

    Spelling – Sequential Spelling

    Grammar – Shurley Grammar

    Handwriting – A Reason For Handwriting

    Reading – He’s been reading since he was 4, so we are just getting good books from the library and doing literature units. Focusing on fluency and comprehension.

    Science – We participate in a classical co-op called Classical Conversations. I’ll be supplementing their outline, which includes life science and earth science this year. They’ll do an experiment each week at coop and we’ll continue that line of thinking throughout the week.

    History – Veritas Press history timeline cards. We’ll also be following the coops outline here. They are studying ancient cultures. We’ll be reading books and biographies to supplement here as well.

  16. HI Jennifer,
    5-10 minutes of workbook time each day is probably fine if she is interested. And if she is interested in learning the sounds of letters, sure, do some. Again, I’d aim for only a few minutes a day at her age– you don’t want to overdo. But in my opinion you can’t overdo the reading of good books. Cuddle together on the couch and read, read, read — every excellent book you can get your hands on — anything that will spark her interest in the world around her. That will only benefit her!
    All the best,
    Mary

  17. I did two years as an independent homeschooler before I joined our state’s virtual charter school.

    “Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” didn’t work well for me (but I continue to hear great reviews), but Hooked on Phonics has been a huge hit in my house. I still use it with my new readers and have even purchased the next level called “Master Reader” and use that periodically.

    I love “A Reason for Handwriting” as well as “Handwriting Without Tears”

    We think “Story of the World” is awesome.

    Our entire curriculum through our virtual school is K12, (www.K12.com) and I have to say that I LOVE it. It is helpful to me to have my lesson plans online, as well as the animated stories and games that are on the computer as well. But not all the work is on the computer and the crafts and projects that we do that are hands on are a big hit.

    How fun that there is so much out there – something for everyone!

  18. Well, we’re not experienced, but here’s what I’m doing with my two kindergarten boys:

    Math-U-See
    Five In A Row (I include my preschooler in this, of course)
    Reason for Handwriting
    Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

  19. We LOVE the robinsoncurriculum.com ! It’s very streamlined and teaches students to learn independently, which is great in a larger family, with students of many ages and preschoolers under foot. =)

  20. Oh, and it’s SUPER economical for larger families, too!!

  21. This is our fourth year of homeschooling and we have only used School of Tomorrow PACES. We do some lapbooking and we use the Math-U-See drills online for extra math practice.

  22. Phonics-Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons
    Grammar-Voyages in English
    History-Story of the World
    Vocabulary-Worldly Wise (thru 6th grade)/Vocabulary From Classical Roots (middle school)
    Spelling-Spelling Workout
    Latin-Latin Primer
    Math-Saxon
    Science-throwing stuff together (haven’t found a program I like yet)
    Languages-Rosetta Stone
    Formal Writing-Writing Strands

  23. It depends a lot on the kid and the family!

    Some favorites that we/some of us have really liked:

    History/ lit: Many books recommended by Sonlight, but not the whole enchilada curriculum. Great historical fiction is fabulous for giving the spirit of a time and place in history.

    Writing:
    – I love Jump In: A workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers (published by Apologia)
    -A new one I’m liking so far is Daily 6-Trait Writing
    – I like Institute for Excellence in Writing, but it’s not for all kids

    Grammar:
    Easy Grammar

    Math:
    A combination of Horizons and word problems from Singapore (aka Primary Mathematics)

    Apologia Astronomy, in particular, is a really awesome elementary science course.

    Reading:
    Love Sing, Spell, Read and Write for the songs and way of introducing the sounds. ( I don’t like that it combines with writing as many kids read before their motor skills are ready to write much, but that is a very common complaint with phonics programs.)

    Five in a Row is a lovely, gentle program for early childhood/ early grades.

    Brand new to us, so untested, but I like it: Language Lessons for the Very Young ( gentle, Charlotte Mason-style language program)

    Art:
    How to Teach Art to Children

    Discovering Great Artists

    Check out The Complete Book of… series books (available at any Barnes and Noble) for many subjects as a nice jumping off place.

    And so many, many other individual books… I’ve found that we’re just not one-stop curriculum package people. That’s it off the top of my head.

  24. We’ve been homeschooling for 4 years now using My Father’s World. I love it! I order the deluxe package and get everything I need for my girls (they are one grade apart). I enjoy having all their assignments written out for me in a grid life form. This year I spent about $400 for all the materials to school two children for a year. 😀

  25. I have over 7 years experience teaching in Christian schools, and we used Bob Jones and ABeka in both schools. However, I didn’t like the pressure ABeka puts on the younger grades, especially to read fluently before the end of kindergarten. So I searched for something that was comprehensive without burning out my all-boy boy. I want him to love learning and then we can forge ahead.

    I think I was taught in college that the traditional, classical style of learning was “it”. But the more I worked with little boys, I have come to really respectfully disagree. My younger brother was almost suicidal in grade school – largely b/c of Rod & Staff curriculum. It took him years to recover.

    So I found “My Father’s World” curriculum, and we LOVE it. My kids are 2 years apart, so I am looking forward to combining subjects in the unit studies. Every day there are hands-on, tactile learning activities which are necessary for left-brain learners. I can’t say it as well as they do, so here is the basic idea:

    *Recognizes the Bible, God’s truth, to be the foundation of wisdom and education.
    *Utilizes hands-on, unit studies with daily lesson plans that are easy-to-teach.
    *Enables families and multi-age groups to learn together. Many of our programs may be taught to a range of ages simultaneously.
    *Combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas and classical education with a Biblical worldview, an international focus and our own observations of how children learn.
    *Uses a comprehensive, sequenced learning program beginning with preschool learning toys to develop readiness skills. Our complete unit-based curriculum includes a phonics-based learning-to-read program and focuses on God’s amazing creation (kindergarten), the world of the Bible (first grade), and U.S. history (second or third grade). Then a year of geography sets the foundation for four years of chronological world and U.S. history (through eighth grade). Our high school curriculum provides a Biblical framework for English, history, and other subjects.
    *Provides easy-to-teach, integrated curriculum that is enjoyable, academically strong, and focused on character development.
    *Is committed to the Lord of All, who tenderly searches for people from every tribe and language. A portion of our profits helps support mission work overseas, especially Bible translation projects. Our heart’s desire is that someday soon all people would be able to read of God’s love in their own language.

    So glad we found this curriculum – my son’s deluxe package was less than $250 for the whole year.

  26. We share many of the same tastes in curriculm – love Sonlight and have used it from the very beginning – 10 yrs ago.

    We have always struggled with math curriculum – We were bored even though they were all learning…Last two years the older kids have all used TEACHING TEXTBOOKS and WE LOVE IT! It frees me up to work with the little ones because the lessons are all taught on CD. They now have grades 3 – high school math.

  27. I am new to your blog. It looks like a place I might feel at home. I just finished 19 years of homeschooling. My daughter was married on Aug. 1st and my 18 year old son graduated this spring. We loved Sonlight and the literature approach to learning. Nothing better than a good, living book!

  28. Our lists are very similar :^)

  29. Love math u see and Apologia Science.

    My 10th grader is taking Spanish 2 using Switched on Schoolhouse and he really loves it. He is taking Chemistry through the Apoligia Academy. Hasn’t started yet but is very excited about it.

    We are using Around the World in 180 days for our history. I love this because all of the kids (K-10th grade) can study the same thing at the same time.

    Julie

  30. Writing Strands has been fabulous for my son. It has transformed his writing abilities. It is cheap. The first page tells the student that they can do the book without the paren’t help and not to write in the book so a sibling can use it. It wouldn’t be great for a natural writer but fantastic for my Math/Science loving son.

  31. Math- I LOVE Math-U-See
    Literature- My older gals use Hewitt Homeschooling Lightening Literature. It’s great for middle school and high school
    Science- Apologia
    History and Geography- Beautiful Feet has fabulous sets using good books. You can also study history of classical music, the horse, etc. These are really good programs that incorporate reading with learning history and geography and such. They also have literature sets.

    Grammar- Easy Grammar
    Readers- Pathway readers
    Phonics- Rocket Phonics and some Explode The Code
    Handwriting- A Reason for Handwriting
    In the Soutgh there is also a company called Notgrass that has history geared towards Georgia and Tennessee. they are GREAT!

  32. I love Heart of Wisdom stuff. Have used SOS (Switched On Schoolhouse) with great success when new babies come home house is chaotic. SOS and Rosetta Stone is what got my older ET adoptees caught up to peer age
    Julee
    mom to many

  33. Hi mary, this was excellent to read! thanks for writing it all out! 🙂 We actually use much of what you use. I was glad for the Rosetta stone plug..been thinking about it, but it IS expensive. My oldest is 9 so maybe it is time to take the plunge.
    We use Sonlight for our core history and geography. LOVE the books.
    Learning Language Arts thru Literature for, well, language arts. 🙂
    Throw in some Wordly Wise, Sequential Spelling and Reason for Handwriting (all very intermittently..)
    Math-U-See…I love this! We call him “mr. math-u-see”
    I did use teach you rchild to read in 100 easy lessons for my oldest, but then i discovered ‘teach your child to read in 20 easy lessons” and well, i was sold.

    we used sonlight science the last couple of years, but this year i am going to try NOEO science which looks fantastic. we have the books for apologia, but i am waiting another couple of years for my middle child to get a bit older, since i like to keep them together as much as possible.
    and then we have overflowing bookshelves and baskets with books of all sorts-art, french, amharic cd for language learning, usborne, etc. WE love to read in this family. (well, i may be an addict and raising my kids to be, as well. ) 🙂

  34. I have a toddler not even two yet and I am trying to decide what to get to help her be prepared for school. I wonder if you have any suggestions or craft idea’s for toddlers ?

  35. Native Momma,
    Look for a great book titled “Playful Learning”

  36. We love just reading books! We also use Saxon math, Story of the World for History and First Language Lessons for Grammar.

  37. Hi!

    We use “My Father’s World”, plus Math-U-See, Easy Grammar, and Explode the Code. We’ll be using Auralog’s “Tell Me More” Spanish Homeschool Edition for foreign language. We have a 9yod, 6yod and 4yod (plus an 17yod who’s only got a couple of classes to complete for senior year, so will be graduating early).

    Also, this year we are organizing ourselves with Sue Patrick’s Workbox System. We’re excited to start our new school year soon!

  38. The Phonics Handbook (Jolly Phonics)–A fun way to introduce sounds and their spellings with stories and hand gestures. I started doing about 5 minutes a day of “reading lessons” just after my son turned 3 (including phonemic awareness games such as those described in the book Why Our Children Can’t Read and What We Can Do About It) and he could read CVC words like “pin” and “feet” at age 3 1/2. I just skipped all the writing activities because he didn’t have the fine motor skills for them.

    Saxon Math K–the only kindergarten math program I found that didn’t have a workbook (even filling in the calendar in the “math meeting book” was taxing for my son)

    Singapore Primary Mathematics–We just started this, but I like the problem-solving emphasis.

    Sonlight core curriculum–We love doing the read-alouds together.

  39. Mom of eight here… couldn’t do upper math without Teaching Textbooks, and for the reasons you mention loving Rosetta Stone!

    Can’t wait to read your new book, although I was encouraged to read above that you are spending between $800-900/month. That’s where we are right now, but I always have this nagging thought that I could be doing more.

    I know my kids would love it if we’d get a little more creative with snacks, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you do. That big bag of pretzels from Costco is well-loved but a little boring…

    ~Kendra

  40. We use Abeka exclusively except for Greek N Stuff for Greek lessons. If I were to pick and choose, I know myself, I’d leave a hole somewhere. So it has helped having everything from one place. And since Abeka is so advanced and my son is so young (he’s 7, he’s on track to finish 3rd grade in December or so) I just back off when he’s had too much. So far it works for us. We’ll be gearing up full force come Sept 1. But for now, we’re still enjoying the relaxed days of summer here in Northern Nevada and having an equally relaxed home school schedule.

  41. This is our first year to homeschool – oldest is Kindergarten age. We use:

    Math: Christian Light Education (LOVE IT! Structured like Saxon, but with Christian references for half the price!)

    Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (It’s works!)
    Handwriting: StartWrite

    Science: Christian Light Education

    Bible: Little Hands to Heaven (ages 2-5, so oldest reads bible story and questions to 3 y/o)

    Social Studies: My State History Funbook (cut and paste, but hey – he’s learning a lot of fun facts about our state) http://www.statehistory.net/

    And for our preschooler, the Rod and Staff preschool set. She feels so proud to do her own “school”.

    Love your site, Mary!

  42. We are new to homeschooling, but have landed on Sonlight. So happy to find it. We use Apologia science. Right now we’re doing Botany and General Science. We are using Horizon and Teaching Textbooks for Math. Artistic Pursuits is what we are using for Art. It’s a great combination of Art History and Art Technique, but does not give cookie cutter type art projects. Leaves so much room for each child’s creativity.

  43. Hi, i’ve been homeschooling for the past 7 years- two sons, 12 and 8 and recently, two daughters adopted from Ethiopia- both about 16 months!
    We have used Oak Meadow the whole time and really love it. My older son has added EPGY, and both have used Rosetta Stone.

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