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It depends on the grade and subject. I chose not to get the visuals for K social studies. Too expensive! I made it work without them. They're essential for Bible, though. That's why we didn't use Abeka for Bible. Way too expensive!!! The teacher manuals for other stuff (reading, math...) are ... um ... I'll say "optional". Yes, most people probably need them. Yes, they help explain a lot that the student books don't teach. I didn't use them for math, though. I would have for reading if I'd done Abeka reading, but we ended up not using it after I saw what it was. (He was ahead of that. We went with Explode the Code instead.) As a general rule, yes, you need all the extra stuff. If you really NEED to save money, I'd cut out science & social studies (you can get comparable or better material online). The higher the grade level, the more essential those things will become, though.
well i was thinking for science and social studies
i honestly dont know much in those areas so not sure if i would need the teacher guides
in reading he'd be at a 2nd grade level for math kinder and everything else 1st.
I didn't use the visuals or teachers guides for sci & soc st. I probably should have, but I skimmed over the abeka stuff with him when I realized how little content was actually there. We've moved on to Apologia (starting last year) and Mystery of History (starting this year). That's just me, though. There are a lot of people who think sci and soc st should be stressed later rather than earlier, so they either don't teach it at all or they teach a lighter version. (Not that there's anything wrong with that... it's just not my style.) Abeka's materials are much lighter than Apologia or MOH (in the early grades, I mean). Ben LOVES science and soc st., so we like to dig a lot deeper than some do. Some kids love math. Ben hates it. Some kids would do better with a more rigorous math program, and others not so much. Depends on what you want your kids to learn and when you want them to learn it.