Choices for Homeschool Curriculum

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Thinking about homeschooling but does choosing “curriculum”, or material to teach from, seem too daunting or difficult?  It is true that there are literally hundreds of different books, authors, and publishers that provide educational materials.

If you just want to give homeschooling a trial run, or are looking for something that will not cost you a penny, you may be interested in knowing about this complete free homeschool curriculum online.  It is found at http://allinonehomeschool.com .  I do not personally use it, but a few people I know do and they are happy with it.  Just click on the grade level on the right hand side of the screen, and then your child follows the directions day by day.
Another great free resource is by Jenny Philips at http://www.jennyphillips.com/good-beautiful/. She has a book list of “clean” and moral books; I’ve personally found that MOST of the books aren’t available at our library… but the books she recommends that have been available have been exceptional! So many books for kids nowadays depict children back-talking and being disrespectful to adults.  It’s so frustrating when you’re trying to teach the opposite values to your children!
A few years ago, we lived in a state that offered a “public school option” of K12, which provides all your homeschooling curriculum for free (and mandates monitoring and assistance from an assigned teacher).  In fact, most states offer K12 free of charge!  Check out whether your state does here.  K12 is wonderful, but I also only had one homeschooler at the time– I imagine it would be an overwhelming curriculum for people with multiple homeschoolers.  I did NOT like the insane amount of work “required” by K12 (our Kindergartner was expected to log 6 hours of schoolwork daily!!).  If you have a struggling student, then K12 certainly provides ample opportunity to go over concepts again and again.  K12 is not for everyone, but it is a great resource to consider, especially if you are new to homeschooling.
Here are some other curriculum you may want to consider
 
I personally do not use an all-around “pre-packaged” curriculum because I do not think that one specific publisher has an all-around fantastic curriculum.  I pick and choose between different publishers depending on the subject.  Here are some great resources by subject area.
English:  (We do English every day)
  • Rod and Staff  http://www.milestonebooks.com/list/Rod_and_Staff_Curriculum/  We are on Level 3 and I REALLY like it, but it looks like 1st and 2nd grade are just readers… in Level 3 they begin intense English skills (grammar and punctuation).  Rod and Staff also offers Math, but I haven’t personally seen the Math textbooks.  As a note, Rod and Staff is NOT bright, colorful, or fun.  It IS thorough and complete.  Also important to know, Rod and Staff is Christian-based (it was developed by a group of Mennonite brethren).  We are Christians (I am Mormon), and I appreciate the amount of religion that is incorporated into the Rod and Staff books.
  • All About Reading  http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-reading/  Several moms have very highly recommended this curriculum to me.  I haven’t purchased this, because by the time I learned about it, my child was already a very strong reader.  But I probably will get it when my younger children are ready to learn to read!  Go to their website to access the free placement tests to figure out which level your child is on.
  • It is also important for kids to listen to stories, because modeling good reading skills has been shown to help kids learn how to read 🙂  I recommend allowing children throughout Elementary school (and even beyond) listen to stories or books on tape every single day.  Our library website http://www.aacpl.net/kids has hundreds of free books online through “TumbleBooks” that read aloud.  They choose their own stories and listen to them on the computer.  Zero effort from me 🙂
  • Nessy http://www.nessy.com/us/ was recommended to me by my brother.  He says his girls have really benefitted from their reading activities.  This is a subscription based website.
Math:  (We do Math every day)
  • Mathematics by Scott Foresman & Addison Wesley http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listing/2691456887352?r=1&kpid=2691456887352&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-TextBook_NotInStock_26To75-_-Q000000633-_-2691456887352  I got this book for free from a homeschool swap, and it looks really fantastic!  It says it is 2nd grade level, but I think it is more 1st grade level.  It says it is “consumable”, but I generally have my kids write the answers in their own notebook so multiple children can use it.
  • Saxon Math http://www.amazon.com/Saxon-Math-Incremental-Development-Workbook/dp/0939798824/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430235793&sr=8-2&keywords=saxon+math+2  This is what we are using right now.  The workbooks are redundant but thorough.  I do have the kids actually write in the workbooks.  For the nominal cost of these workbooks, it is worth it to have concrete proof of their work.  The kids generally work through them on their own now, but don’t expect them to work by themselves until 2nd grade…  Saxon Math goes up through high school math, which is nice.  A friend recommends always buying the 1st Edition of the textbooks (textbooks begin in grade 4/5, workbooks are for the early years).  The 1st Edition books only cost a couple of dollars on Amazon!
  • Right Start is another Math curriculum for early learners that several moms have highly recommended to me.  It uses many hands-on manipulatives to teach math.  http://rightstartmath.com  Make sure to have your child take their placement test to ensure you purchase the correct level for your child!
  • KhanAcademy.org is free and a great way to teach kids without having to explain everything yourself!  My kids work on Khanacademy for about 10 minutes/day.  They are given math problems; if they do not know how to solve the question, then they can watch a short video tutorial explaining the math concept.  I like KhanAcademy because they truly get to learn at their own pace, and they are introduced to new concepts almost every day (whereas in our Saxon math workbooks, they do the same type of problems over and over again to improve their accuracy and speed).  The kids also enjoy KhanAcademy because they get to earn new avatar guys with each new level they reach.
  • Xtramath.org is a free math drills website.  It doesn’t have any ads and is really, really simple to navigate.  This has really helped my kids get faster with their math facts (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication).  They “race their teacher” and attempt to answer math facts before their timer runs out.  I like this new updated version of math flashcards (and they don’t require me to take 20 minutes out of my day to hold up each flashcard one by one!).
  • Math Lessons for a Living Education now has their books online for FREE!   http://www.mathlessonsforalivingeducation.com
History:  (We do History on Tuesdays and Thursdays)
Science: (We do Science on Mondays and Wednesdays)
  • I have an Abeka Science book that we’ve started using lightly, but most often I just pull Science from library books we get.  I plan to officially begin a regimented Science course for 3rd grade (next year) using the Abeka book I already have (which I got for free from someone).
  • Apologia is a science curriculum many people have recommended to me.  http://www.apologia.com/index.asp?proc=pg&pg=4  I think I will probably end up going with this company when I end up buying Science books because of all the fantastic recommendations people have given me on it.
  • Here is a link discussing several of the popular science curriculum.  This is a good place to educate yourself on the available options: http://teachbesideme.com/homeschool-moms-share-favorite-science-curriculum/
   Art: (We do Art one day each week)

Character Building: (We start off each day with this)

  • http://characterfirsteducation.com/c/curriculum.php  I highly recommend this website.  It is free and has wonderful videos with songs, poems, and stories to teach your children the fundamentals of good character.  I have seen drastic improvement in my children’s behavior since we began implementing this in our school day.  They now understand exactly what it means to show respect, obedience, attentiveness, etc.  One of my top priorities in homeschooling is to teach good moral values and to ensure my children are learning to know and love their Heavenly Father and their Savior, Jesus Christ.  Character First definitely helps to teach the moral values that are essential in building children of good character.

Computer Time: (each day) College and careers alike require proficiency in computer skills.  I want my kids to be familiar and comfortable with navigating the computer and internet.  With that being said, I gave an informal lesson on the dangers of pornography when they were 8.  They both were disgusted at the thought of seeing naked girls, but now they know what it is and what they should do (not look and tell mom) if they encounter it online. Every single day, my kids are allotted 30 minute of computer time.  They have these 5 items on their computer time checklist daily:

  1. xtramath.com They spend ~5 minutes on math speed drills on this site each day (see more info on xtramath above).
  2. Typing.com When I think about what skills I use each and every day in my adult life, typing comes in at the top of my list.  I am so grateful that my elementary schools focused on teaching us how to type.  The kids spend ~5 minutes/day on a typing lesson (which is free on this website!).
  3. Khanacademy.org They spend about 10 minutes/day learning new math concepts and practicing ones they already know (more info above)
  4. Little Pim They spend 5 minutes/day watching an episode of Little Pim, a children’s language learning show.  They are learning German 🙂  I bought the download from the Little Pim website.
  5. TumbleBooks They spend their remaining time listening to a storybook from our library’s website. (more info above)

I switch around our homeschool schedule based on the specific needs of my children at the time.  We do Math and English every single day.  Sometimes I alternate between Science and History (Science on Mondays/Wednesdays; History on Tuesdays/Thursdays).  Other times I simply do shorter lessons and include BOTH science and history every single day.  Do what works best for you and your children!

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