It’s school time folks!
Every summer I try to evaluate what we loved about the past year, and where we went totally wrong. I only have a few personal rules about homeschooling and the curriculum that we choose.
Here are my super easy rules!
1.) It must be secular-ish, or at least sincere Christian literature. I know what you’re thinking, but keep reading! I think it is important to introduce my children to and help them develop healthy relationships with Christ. BUT, if it isn’t fleshed out any further than a superficial attempt at mentioning God in a book to make it “christian” for the homeschool market, then it feels more like a marketing ploy, than a sincere attempt at introducing children to Christ. Additionally, I doubt that the majority of these authors have degrees in both theology and the subject, doing a disservice to our children in BOTH areas. Not everyone speaking in HIS name, is furthering HIS mission.
2.) It MUST be affordable. We are a single income family with a small business. That means income is not always stable and fluctuates with the market. These big box homeschool kits that cost over $600 are not an option.
3.) It must be flexible for children with special needs. My oldest daughter has dyslexia and synesthesia. It has been a struggle for us, as her symptoms often leave her with seriously intense migraines. She struggles with sequencing, small fonts, spelling, and writing. Very little of her problems actually relate to her not being able to read. Any curriculum we get must be curriculum that I can read or teach her, rather than independent work. Colorful graphics are helpful in helping her stay focused and keeping her eyes where they need to be, or at least helping her remember how to get back to the same spot.
4.) It must be interesting. Look, my kids have to listen to me all day long. And because the youngest is still small and the oldest has dyslexia, I have to work one-on-one with each of them ALL. DAY. LONG. It’s gotta be interesting for me, as much as them!
And that’s it! That’s all the “rules” for choosing my homeschool curriculum!
Ready to see what we picked this year? Here we go!
- Florida Treasures by Macmillan McGraw-Hill: Grade 4 Grammar Practice book, these workbooks are free online! Additionally, the textbooks are super cheap to get secondhand on Amazon, Ebay, or other used book stores.
- Daily Language Review: I have discovered an amazing teacher (group of teachers?) on Teacherspayteachers.com and we are going to use her FOREVER! The “store” is called Teacher Thrive
- Language Assessment Quizzes: Teacher Thrive
Reading: Core Knowledge has free Reading units that are a touch harder than normal curriculum at the grade level, which we need as we have a super great reader on our hands! Some of the units are copyrighted, but luckily do not cost a lot to purchase. Core Knowledge Reading
Math: Lessons for a Living Education by Angela O’Dell & Kyrsten Carlson.
I’ve tried so many different math books, and bought this on a wim. Although sampling the older versions I know that I will not be able to keep with this set as it tries to get more “theological” the higher you go- and I apply the term theological liberally, as I sincerely doubt my Priest would find it to be sound in its scriptural references. I have no idea how it has a solid 5 star rating, unless of course, the adults aren’t actually reading through it. It’s pretty good in the math department, in all seriousness, so long as I skip the super weird stories spaced throughout that have absolutely very little to do with math and are quasi-racist or at the very least written without sensitivity to a diverse reading base. I had a friend read it who also homeschools, and is a christian as well, and she agrees that it’s weird. She wasn’t quite ready to call it racially insensitive like me, but, well… (it totally is). I will not be buying it again, but next year will totally get the one I choose for my 12 year old (see below). Math Lessons for a Living Education
Social Studies: Core Knowledge has free social studies curriculum online with teacher guides. You can also buy hard copies, which is what we choose to do since the cost of the book is generally cheaper (and neater) than printing out my own. Core Knowledge Social Studies
Science: We are a little bored with normal science textbooks repeating the same old thing every year. So we are mixing it up a little this year. We’ve decided to dive right in to some chapter books for this littlest, happy reader. Especially chapter books that target a specific topic at a time.
- Magic School bus books
- Magic Tree House Research guides
- Science Readers that correspond with the Scott Foresman books.
- Other hodge podge collection of science-y books. We just got done reading all about Albert Einstein, for example.
Art:Concordia University Chicago has free art classes online, organized via grade level! Just print with your colored printer and easy peasy art lesson!
- Targeted Chapter books based upon what we are learning or want to learn. Currently we are reading No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits which came with one of our deluxe tinker crates. I hope to read Ender’s Game, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond before the end of the semester.
- We will be reading selections from Realms of Gold, Volumes 1 and 2 for classical examples of literature such as Shelley, Frost, Angelou, Poe, Twain, Keats and more!
I wish I had found this math curriculum earlier! I do not think I will deviate from using it in the future for either of my daughters! It seems both sound and easy to understand (for both her and I- ha!).
I didn’t want to focus entirely on algebra this year, like some middle school math texts do, so I opted for the level 7 book, above, from teaching textbooks, but I did want to touch upon it every now and then. My daughter has a good grasp on algebra, but struggles with things like fractions and sequencing (dyslexia rears it’s ugly head). This textbook is exactly what we need for some targeted practice and an introduction to linear equations.
This Year we have selected the following titles for my oldest to work through:
-Foundations of Geography –> which she actually started this past year but needs to finish up.
-The Ancient World
-Medieval Times to Today
There are chapter outlines available for free online and Chapter Tests! Best part, the tests are graded automatically! Huzzah!
- US Government & Civics Bell Ringer Journal (for an introduction to some serious subjects, and extra writing practice): The SuperHERO Teacher
For this year I have selected the following titles to work through:
-Human Body Systems (book D)
-Astronomy (book J)
-Chemistry (book L)
The absolute best thing about these books, other than their manageable size, is the fact that the quizzes and tests are all online! Which means less I have to grade! Huzzah!
Art: Again we are using the 7th grade packet from Concordia University Chicago
Other Materials and Resources
Duolingo.com This is a free website for learning dozens of languages. The oldest is currently taking French and the youngest is taking Spanish.
Exploring Handwriting Through U.S. Geography. Super Successful Cursive edition. This link, by the way, is to Christianbook.com, a company that I have found has cheap prices and amazing customer service!
Draw Write Now: A great drawing and handwriting course teaching kids to draw everything from pigs to boats. We all have fun learning to draw together! They come in installments, and each one is slightly themed (for example, barn animals, autumn, etc).
Minimus Latin: a cute quick latin course with Minimus, a mouse. Slightly expensive though.
It’s So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families: Need a good Birds and Bees book? I can’t recommend this one enough! There are good little cartoon dialogues between the two characters ( a bird and bee, appropriately enough), lots of pictures and diagrams, and tasteful discussion about lots of sensitive topics. I’ve used this with both of my girls and I keep it around just in case anyone has any questions or wants to reference it.
Tinker Crate (for the 12 year old who likes to build things): Use my link to help me earn $10 toward more crates for my kiddos! Tinker Crate You can sign up for the deluxe version which includes a book. I’ll be using the books throughout the school year to help with her reading.
Doodle Crate (for the 9 year old who likes to create): Use my link to help me earn $10 toward more crates for my kiddos! Doodle Crate
Atlas Crate (for both of the kiddos to learn about the world around them, and to NOT be those folks on tv who can’t find a country on the map): Use my link to help me earn $10 toward more crates for my kiddos! Atlas Crate Like the Tinker Crate, you can sign up for the deluxe version which also includes a book. This is a brand new subscription but so far I have not been disappointed.
Wow! That was a lot of info y’all! Hopefully you’ve made it to the bottom and have a lot of new resources for your homeschool!
Let me know your thoughts! Anyone have an amazing textbook that they can’t live without?
The Colourful Teacup