The most exciting and overwhelming part of homeschooling is choosing a curriculum to follow. There are so many different ones out there currently, that it makes it incredibly hard to know which ones will work for your family. It also takes some time to decide if you will even use any curriculum at all, and go down the wonderful path of unschooling. My entire being wishes I could completely unschool my children, but I am through and through a Type A personality. I think I have now found a good rhythm in that we use curriculum for math and English and mostly unschool science and social studies. It has taken me several years to find my groove and to find out what I like and expect in a curriculum, and you will too!
Here are our own personal favorites:
Math– Math Mammoth
I cannot say enough good things about this math program. It is thorough, challenging, and incorporates word problems in every section. I love how it is mastery based and it ensures retention in each topic. My favorite part about this curriculum is that it teaches several different ways of solving problems as well as the “why” behind it. We have tried several other math curriculums and I have never seen math done so beautifully. When taking the placement test, don’t be discouraged if your child places below their current grade level. Math Mammoth is an advanced math curriculum, and can seem dry, but I will choose this curriculum again and again.
Pros: challenging, conceptual, open and go, easy on parents, strong math foundation, price
Cons: a tad dry, may be discouraging if placed at too hard of level
English (Reading)– All About Reading and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
When the kids were younger (4-5) we loved going through the 100 Easy Lessons book as it follows incredibly close to the Montessori teachings of phonics. Phonics I have learned, are the foundation to becoming a strong reader. Sight words are nowhere near as important as a solid understanding in phonics. This phonetic path is also why we choose the All About Reading curriculum. The approach is multisensory and has been shown to work wonderfully in children with dyslexia. I loved the way it taught the rules of English, and was actually surprised that I didn’t know many of them! The initial prep is a bit of work, but everything else is scripted for an easy open and go curriculum. Each level comes with 2 books that progressively get harder. We enjoyed these short stories much better than other leveled reading books.
Pros: multisensory, solid foundation, phonics based, fun, open and go
Cons: price (AAR), initial setup (AAR)
English (Spelling)– All About Spelling
This curriculum is just as amazing as the reading portion. Things like, why we double certain letters or how to correctly spell prefixes and suffixes are just some of the many things your child will learn. Again, I had no idea about so many of these spelling rules and it actually made me love spelling so much!
English (Writing)– Evan Moor and Writeshop
When it comes to writing, I don’t believe children need to start at any specific age. With my oldest, I tried getting her to write from day 1, and it was a disaster. I dropped it for several years, and now at 9 years old she is writing on her own, at or above her grade level. For first grade we started fun punctuation and grammar books by Evan Moor. They are simple, but get the point across. Around 4th grade, I started the Writeshop curriculum. It actually has the parent writing for the majority of it, and it works amazing. It builds confidence having your child see how to write and allows them to brainstorm without the issue of writing too slow for their ideas. It can also span over multiple grades, so I use it with my 2nd and 5th grader together!
Pros: simplistic but thorough, inexpensive (Writeshop is easy to get second hand), kids enjoy it
Cons: Writeshop is teacher heavy
Science– Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding
This curriculum is absolutely amazing. It was written by an actual scientist and the lessons make my scientific heart sing with joy. The kids love science days and every lesson we have done so far has been so much fun. Their knowledge of scientific concepts has grown so much since starting. One of the things I enjoy most about this curriculum is that Dr. Nebel himself, will answer your questions in his facebook group!
Pros: inexpensive, thorough, strong science foundation, online support
Cons: teacher heavy, prep work
Social Studies– Torchlight
Torchlight is a literature-based curriculum that can be used for several grades at once. It is wonderfully put together and is very inclusive in its book lists. We have found so many favorite books to add to our library through this curriculum and having the extra time to sit down and read together, is one of the best parts about our day.
Pros: engaging, inclusive and diverse literature, fun
Cons: finding the huge booklist, parent heavy
Printing and Cursive– Handwriting Without Tears
We have used this printing books since the beginning. They are fun and simple for the kids, and they enjoy doing them. You can also buy the parent guide, but I feel it is unnecessary. The cursive book is absolutely fantastic. My oldest completed it on her own, and handwrites beautifully. Both kids enjoy the little tasks and games in the books.
Pros: easy, open and go, works well, inexpensive
Cons: close supervision in the beginning
We have tried a plethora of curriculum over the years, and so far, these ones have been our favorite. I enjoy engaging material as well as curriculum that is more mastery based. If you are curious about any curriculum, do not hesitate to ask!