Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum--what we use

Once one makes the decision to leap into wide world of homeschooling there are soooooooooo many decisions to make, not the least of which is (insert dramatic suspenseful music) what curriculum to choose????

While I can't say with any authority what will universally work for everyone (sorry!), I'm happy to share what has worked well for us so far. :) As I explained in a previous post we are what I call "Classically Eclectic and Catholic with a bit of Charlotte Mason thrown in." (Phew, say that 3 times fast!) My curriculum choices generally reflect this philosophy. I am still somewhat of a homeschooling novice, since my oldest is only 5. This has been my first more formal year of homeschooling (although, as all of you fellow homeschoolers know the teaching really begins at birth!). So far it has been a wonderful year! I put together my own curriculum pulling from a variety of resources including both Christian and secular. Without further ado, I'll just go ahead and list some of the materials and sources that we've been using this year:

1) Religion: Seton So far we've been really happy with Seton's religious education materials. Very Catholic, very clear and straightforward with lots of beautifully colored pictures throughout the books.

2) Reading: When Luke was 3 I started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I really love and would recommend to anyone starting with a younger child. About halfway through the lessons we branched out to using other sources including easy readers (thank you library!), A Beka readers and Funnix.

3) Spelling: We've been using both Explode the Code and Spelling Workout. Both are wonderful. We also use a variety of other phonics and spelling workbooks I've picked up along the way.

4) Writing: Handwriting Without Tears. I love love love this program. Luke has done amazingly well with this, and Adam has been working through the preschool workbook. Can't say enough good things about HWT!

5) English: Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons. We haven't used these much yet since we've been more focused on teaching Luke how to read, write and spell.

6) Math: Saxon. So far we're very happy with Saxon. It progresses at an easy pace with lots of review worked into new lessons. It's a great solid Math curriculum.

7) Science: This is a subject I've been putting together on my own. The boys are both naturally curious about science and ask such great questions that we never run out of topics to explore. We've been using the library and the internet as our primary resources. The science section is one of their absolute favorite areas of the library! We come home with bags and bags full of science books. (Good for learning, not so good for mom to have to lug home. Ha!) We also have quite a few general resources at home including several Usborne Internet Linked books as well as books of experiments. I have to also give a shout out to the *wonderful* science series: Let's Read and Find Out.

8) History/Social Studies: This is another subject that I put together myself. We use a variety of online and library resources, but we also use Story of the World on occasion. I don't consider myself a strict classical educator with respect to history (so far, anyway!). We tend to skip around quite a bit based on the kid's interests, but I do really like the idea of the chronological 4 year cycle. I'll probably transition to that model in the future, but for now we're enjoying this more varied method.

9) Memorization: While this isn't generally considered a "subject," I wanted to mention that I'm a big fan of memorization. The kids memorize a variety of biblical passages as well as various poems from The Harp and Laurel Wreath regularly.

10) Art: Since the boys are still very young, art at this point has mostly consisted of a variety of hands-on projects. The boys both ADORE art. It is a huge part of our week! I like to come up with projects that overlap with our other studies, but we also do a lot of holiday, seasonal and general projects as well. I also use the library as a resource to pick up various books such as the Come Look with Me series. We also use Artistic Pursuits on occasion.

11) Music: We haven't done much yet in the way of formal music lessons, but Luke has expressed interest in playing piano so I plan to teach him. (I happen to be a musician, which comes in handy! I sing and play piano.) We do lots and lots of singing throughout or days, finger plays, listen to a wide variety of music as well as playing instrument identification games. We also pull out this book on occasion: Kids Make Music! Music is certainly a huge part of our lives!

12) Foreign Language: We haven't started this formally yet. We still need to figure out what will be the best direction for us. The boys have expressed some interest in learning Spanish, so we might move forward with that. We've also toyed with the idea of Latin. I'd love to hear your feedback if you have some to offer in this area!

That about sums up the nuts and bolts of our curriculum choices for this year. I thought I'd also list some other general resources that I love:

The big book of Catholic Customs and Traditions a wonderful book of ways to celebrate liturgical seasons and feast days throughout the year

--The Well-Trained Mind Such a useful resource for any classical homeschooler

--Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home A great book for Catholic homeschoolers interested in the Charlotte Mason method

--Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from preschool through high school A wonderful resource for anyone looking to design their own curriculum

--Kidssoup A great online resource for worksheets, craft ideas and other ecucational materials for the preschool-kindergarten crowd. (membership is about $20 per year)

... there are so many more that I love but there's just too many to list!

Homeschooling has been such an amazing journey for us and I look forward to seeing the ways in which our family changes and grows in years to come. I'd *love* to hear your comments on what you use, recommendations or other feedback! I am quite the curriculum nerd and always find it fascinating to hear what works for others. :)


  1. Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog.
    Have a nice day!

  2. Thank you for sharing your curriculum choices with us! I am not currently homeschooling my two daughters, but it is something my husband and I are considering. I do develop a "summer learning program" for my girls, so always enjoy researching resources that others have found helpful.

    I have actually read The Well-Trained Mind and loved it! It makes me want to begin homeschooling right away!

    Hope you have a great day!

  3. Thanks for stopping by!

    Tracey, I wish you well in making the best decision for your family in the future regarding education. It's a huge and difficult decision to make, for sure. In the meantime good luck with your summer learning program! That sounds like a lot of fun to put together. :)



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