I am often asked what curriculum we use in our homeschool. Since the homeschool conference season is upon us I thought it was high time to get this post posted! It is easiest to continue answering this question here where it can be accessed easily and whenever it is convenient for you to read, re-read and ask questions. So go grab yourself a cup of tea, lemonade, water or beverage of choice, sit back and relax. This is by nature a l-o-n-g post. :-)
When you ask anyone what curriculum they use in their homeschool, they should first tell you what teaching method they follow! I am first and foremost a Teaching the Trivium proponent. I then lean towards a classical methodology with unit studies and Charlotte Mason thrown in the mix!! So whatever teaching methodology you favor will determine in large part the curriculum you will use. I will elaborate on the Trivium and my mix in a different blog post.
– this book will help you get started on understanding why to homeschool, I consider this essential reading for parents and required reading for our children when they are about 14 or older and preparing for marriage
Before we get started I wanted you to give you hint at what you will find in this post… I hope this helps you find what you are looking for. There are two sections;
section #1 is curriculum resources with the following categories in this order: bible studies, history/geography/literature/government/bible history/philosophy, reading instruction, handwriting, writing instruction, grammar, math, science, spelling, occupational education, Greek/Hebrew/Latin, art appreciation and music appreciation;
and section #2 is home/school/child management skills and resources.
1. What do I use and why do I like it?
A) Bible Studies:
– Balancing the Sword – I did a thorough review here
– Quite Times for Kids – solid, biblical, meaty studies; children work on their own as soon as they can read; free samples, various studies, can be used for any reading aged child, one study uses Lego blocks to reinforce lesson!, easy to use
– Plants Grown Up (boys) & Polished Cornerstones (girls) from Doorposts are full of bibles studies, and various gender specific tasks/lessons to be learned in preparation for marriage. I love the Doorpost materials!! These are pretty thorough, varies enough that any child would benefit, CD with all memory verses and printable sheets available, is used from childhood until marriage
B) History/Bible History/Geography/Government/Literature/Philosophy & more:
–Tapestry of Grace – helps ME teach a Christian, classical education (we emphasize the Reformed viewpoint) using a guided unit study approach with the history of the world as the core organizational theme, students cycle through the material 3 times at different learning levels, detailed lesson plans and discussion outlines make ME the primary teacher and mentor and I shape their biblical worldview, comes in digital, print or you can get both, flexible for different learning levels and is designed for stages NOT ages, assignments for a full 36-week school year which are also broken down into 4 9-week units, every unit starts with a full introduction and end-of-unit celebration activities, each unit is broken down into week plans with the actual reading, thinking and writing assignments as well as tools and teacher helps, online collection of useful and helpful documents that are not specific to any week plan, optional supplements covering a wide range of subjects to make your experience more streamlined and enjoyable, resource book list and book update chart. Tapestry is a plan of study, recommended books are available for sale, at the library or might already be on your own shelves! Any books can easily be substituted for those you would prefer to use. This does take some learning to use, but there are many resources to help you in your learning curve! Anything worth doing isn’t always easy, but THIS is well worth doing! There are also free units available for you to try before you buy.
C) Reading Instruction:
– Phonics Pathways – 100% phonics, uncluttered pages, large type, easy to use, NO prep time for me, a reading readiness evaluation so you are not pushing instruction too early for your child’s development
– A Reason for Writing – lessons built around bible verses, easy to use, potential outreach by sending out the completed border sheets at the end of the week (we have done this in the past and have had wonderful responses), simple ‘test’ to check handwriting improvement through the years.
– Startwrite – a computer program that allows you to use any material for handwriting and has both printing and cursive alphabets. I love using this for bible memory verses, psalms for singing we are working on, quotes from leaders we are studying, poems Arrow is memorizing and much more!
– Understanding Writing by Susan Bradrick, this is the ONLY curriculum that truly teaches HOW to write!! The others tell you to write to learn, but that isn’t effective and doesn’t teach you how to write! There are also examples of simple word games to improve sentence structure and descriptions. Amongst all the excellent teaching is a mini child training curriculum! Double bonus to be sure!! Tapestry of Grace does have a writing component and each assignment is tied to that weeks lesson, but they are just more meaningless writing exercises. This curriculum has your child writing notes and letters to friends and relatives all while learning the HOW to write and write well. It is writing with a real purpose. Most of our students will not be writers, journalists or editors. But they will need to write notes, letters, and possibly even blog posts!
– Easy Grammar – easy to use, you memorize prepositions and it is SO much easier to find subject and verb after that!! I struggled with grammar all through my school years, with this method I would have had a MUCH easier time!! Even “I” do not have to use the answer key for many of the answers when correcting work!! WOW… I have learned so much!!
– Math-U-See – easy to use, very thorough (build problem with manipulatives, write the problem, say the problem, practice, teach it back (really demonstrates whether they understand the concept or not!), ability to make additional worksheets for those times when a concept just does not seem to be grasped and you have used all the ones in the workbook, concepts taught to the teacher first via DVD, addition (& subtraction) taught as general concepts and then the facts are taught in groups (+2, doubles, etc), addition taught then subtraction (not both at the same time), same for multiplication & division, and I love, love, love the manipulatives!
– God’s Design for Science series – from Answers in Genesis, all sets reflect a Biblical worldview, including a young-earth view of creation, four-part series, experiments & activities in every lesson, great photos, easy to use with multiple children at different levels, flexible to use, comprehensive material, makes The Patriarch very happy as he decries the lack of hard sciences taught to homeschooled children
– rock collections for geology from Northwest Treasures – wonderfully full of rocks, books, and all in a great storage case, reasonably priced, very interesting kits (dinosaurs, fossils, Lewis & Clark, glow in the dark (VERY popular!!), and much more, all from a young earth/creation perspective
J) Occupational Education:
– Plants Grown Up (boys) & Polished Cornerstones (girls) from Doorposts are full of bibles studies, and various gender specific tasks/lessons to be learned in preparation for marriage. I love the Doorpost materials!!
K) Greek, Hebrew & Latin:
– Little Bitty Baby Learns Greek, Alphabet for Classical Latin (no longer available), Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew – we are just at the stage for a formal Latin but not ready for Greek or Hebrew curriculum yet…, but we know the alphabets of all three!
L) Art Appreciation:
– Adventures in Art – NO NUDES!!, larger reproductions of paintings, easy to use, easy to organize the paintings into one large ‘timeline’ of art history to trace how art changed with political ideas through history… OK so when I bought this about 18 years ago I got a portfolio with reproduction paintings this is now an internet curriculum, and will still be WONDERFUL! Art is the expression of an idea/thought and tracing its history is eye-opening.
M) Music Appreciation:
– Music & Moments with the Masters – traces music history and how music changed with political ideas through history, music is the expression of an idea/thought/emotion and tracing its history is eye-opening.
2. What home/school/child management skills have you learned to make things easier and more enjoyable?
A) Home Management:
1) Have meal plans. This helps with KNOWING what will be for lunch and dinner, making sure you have the necessary ingredients, eliminating unnecessary trips to the store (saving money on gas and wear & tear on the vehicle). This is NOT restrictive but freeing!
2) Have some kind of cleaning schedule. Don’t wait for it to get dirty, clean it BEFORE it gets dirty! I clean the shower when I am IN there. I’m already wet! I wipe something down every time I am in the bathroom. This helps KEEP the bathroom clean. Teach your children to do the same thing! You are NOT a maid.
3) Eliminate clutter! This is a biggie and I am still struggling with this one… but each trip to the donation center helps! Funny thing, I can not usually even remember what was in those bags and boxes after I donated them. So that is PROOF I didn’t need it!
B) School Management:
– Homeschool Tracker Plus – a planning and organizing software, adaptable to any homeschooling style simply and yet sophisticated, lesson planning, record keeping, flexible and customizable to my (or your) planning and organization style, lesson plans can be reused for multiple students or in different years and can be shared with other Tracker users, affordable and either online or downloadable versions, EXCELLENT customer service & support, online discussion forum with great users who are helpful and kind, oh so kind!! One of my favorite features is the rescheduling!! This has helped save my sanity more than once!!!
OK, I heard that snickering out there! Who did that!!!??!!!
C) Child Training:
D) Skills/Lessons/Tips I Have Learned:
1) START THE DAY WITH HE LORD!!! Even just a few moments with really little ones afoot. Aren’t we homeschooling for the Lord in the first place? We cannot do this without Him!
2) Be truly submitted to your husband. Ladies, do not deceive yourself into thinking you are in submission when you are not. Ask you husband, he’ll tell you.
3) Patience, but this came after #2, #1 AND #5 makes it easier! :-D Despite what the world thinks (that we must have lots of patience in order to homeschool) it is the process of teaching our children at home that develops that patience! Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. A lesson I am still learning… sigh.
4) To study the various educational methodologies and determine which one best fits with God’s word first and our child’s leaning second. See resources listed at the top of this post. This helps you eliminate some curriculum which helps in the decision-making process!
5) GO TO BED EARLY, NO LATE NIGHTS (unless you are nursing, then… TAKE NAPS)! There really is no benefit in burning the candle at both ends… and lots of detriments. Draining your adrenals is a big one. You do NOT want to go there. Trust me on this one.
6) LIMIT computer time, crafts, talking on the phone, and any other activity that takes your focus off your home and family. There will be a season for more of that when the children are grown. You will only have them for a short time, don’t waste it with your fave in the box!!
7) Start with obedience training when your children are very young. You are striving for first time obedience, without excuse, without delay, without complaint. Doorposts has great help with this area. Your consistency is a key factor.
I hope you find this helpful. Some of these resources I liked so well I became an affiliate for them! I do receive a monetary compensation if you purchase through one of my links. All these materials I have purchased on my own and I was not paid for this post.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may still have!
Blessings, ~Aunt Mae (aka ~Mrs. R)
Other Aunt Mae Musings that may interest you:
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