This week I’m taking part in a 5 day series that has been organized by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The series is titled 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials, and everyday this week I will be posting about things that I feel are essentials in our homeschool. Maybe it will give you some new ideas for your homeschool.
If you’ve missed any of the other days you can find links to them below:
Day 1: Our 2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum Choices
Day 2: 12 Must-Have Books for Homeschool Moms
Day 3: 5 Homeschool Supplies I Can’t Live Without
Day 4: Books Every Family Should Own
Day 5: A HUGE List of Christian Resources for the Whole Family
One of the obvious essentials of homeschooling is having something to teach. You don’t necessarily need a fancy curriculum (I know some die-hard unschoolers that are very successful without curriculum), but you do need something to teach, right? Well, we are a curriculum family. We don’t use any one publisher or company exclusively; by using a little of this and a little of that, I piece together our curriculum every year. Some things remain the same each year, and it’s very likely that there will be something new on the docket each year.
This post is about 4 months overdue. I wanted to write up a post at the beginning of the typical school year (we school year-round) to share what curriculum we would be using this year, but, it just never happened. So, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write that post and to start of the 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials series.
- Teaching Textbooks – My two oldest kids are using Teaching Textbooks (grades 4 and 6). This is our third year using it and it has proven to work for our family. I really like that they do the whole course right on the computer (there is a workbook too, if you prefer, but it’s the same problems as on the computer). The boys do their math independently on Monday – Thursday and then on Friday I go over any areas they are having trouble with.
- A+ Tutorsoft Interactive Math – My first grade daughter is using this course. This is our first year using it. It is similar to Teaching Textbooks in that it is all on the computer. Teaching Textbooks doesn’t start until third grade and I wanted a math curriculum that was on the computer. I learned about A+ math at the beginning of last year, so I thought we’d give it a try. You can read reviews on this curriculum from the Review Crew.
- Saxon Math – I am using Saxon math my PreK/K daughter that just turned 5. We are using the Kindergarten level. I really like Saxon Math K because it is very laid back and very hands-on.
- Soaring with Spelling and Vocabulary – In my opinion, this is hardly a vocabulary course; it pretty much just gives the definitions of the spelling words. So, we just use it as our spelling course and use something else for vocabulary. We have been using this spelling course from about the time my oldest was in first grade (he is now in sixth). I like it because it is straight-forward and the boys can do it independently (except for the tests; which now they are old enough to give each other their tests). If you are looking for a curriculum that has weekly spelling lists and daily worksheets, then this might be a good fit for you.
Grammar & Writing
- Saxon Grammar & Writing – This year we are trying out a new grammar curriculum with our fourth and sixth graders. We are using Saxon Grammar & Writing and it also includes vocabulary, dictation exercises, and journal writing. I’m throwing in some copywork on top of it too.
- Essentials in Writing – I’m using this with my first grader. It’s a program that has the lessons on DVD and the worksheets as a PDF download. It’s a very gentle introduction to grammar and writing. You can read my review on the fifth grade level here.
- All About Reading – This year we started using All About Reading from All About Learning Press with our 5 and 6-year-old girls. We love it! My 6-year-old is using Level 1 and my 5-year-old is using the Pre-reading level. They both love the Ziggy the Zebra puppet and enjoy the hands-on learning that this curriculum offers. I love how easy it is to use and how thorough the program is. There are currently 4 levels of the All About Reading Program (Pre-reading, Level 1, 2, and 3) with a 5th level coming out later this year.
Even though I feel this program is very thorough, we do throw in the use of Explode the Code books, but more for just busywork when I need to occupy them as I’m working with other children. Plus, I love Explode the Code books too (and the Get Ready for the Code books are great for learning letters and letter sounds).
- Apologia – This will be our 4th year using Apologia for science (yes, we love Apologia). This year we are using the newest course in the Young Explorer series – Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics. I like that the Young Explorer series is Bible-based, uses an immersion approach and incorporates Charlotte Mason Methodology. Check out my review on Chemistry & Physics, and Zoology 1 – Flying Creatures.
- The Mystery of History – Last year we started using The Mystery of History but unfortunately we didn’t get very far. Life got in the way and history got put on the back burner. We have really enjoyed using MOH thus far and I’m happy to say that we are planning on starting up again, full-force, this week. I love that this curriculum is Christ-centered, hands-on, and incorporates living books. Check out our progress so far.
- God’s Great Covenant – Old Testament 1 from Classical Academic Press – This is a new (to us) Bible curriculum that we are starting today with our 9 and 11-year-olds. The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this curriculum last year and I was very intrigued after reading the reviews, so we are going to give it a try.
- God’s Little Explorer Preschool Curriculum – This is a FREE curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. You can also buy it as one complete download for $14. Not only does this curriculum teach about God and the Bible, it also incorporates learning the ABCs, numbers, colors, science projects, crafts, and more. We are planning to start using this this week with the little ones and I can’t wait; it looks so cute and so well done.
- See the Light – We discovered See the Light almost a year ago and we love it! I’m not very artsy, so I love that all the instruction is on DVD, plus it’s Christ-centered and very thorough. We like to do one of the Art Projects DVDs for an entire week instead of several lessons just once a week; it’s kind of like a little break for us. We are planning on staring with the Art Class DVDs soon. You can read my review on the Art Project: Paper Jungle here.
- Keyboard Classroom – We very recently discovered Keyboard Classroom when we had the opportunity to review it. We have been very pleased with its effectiveness and my son enjoys using it.
What curriculum are you using in your homeschool this year?
What are some of your favorite curriculum companies?