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I have been on JM off and on for about 5 years, and i never knew there was a homeschool section on here. My name is Simone and i am going to be homeschooling my children starting this year. My kids are 8, 5, 3, and 10 months. My oldest two are in public school now, and i hate it. I was going to pull them out a few months ago, but decided to let them finish the year. My oldest son did k-2 in school and did really well, i had very few behavior problems out of him, well my daughter started k and OMG she changed into a totally diffrent child for the worse. The school they go to is k-8 so being with older kids she is exposed to a lot of stuff i would rather her not see or hear (cussing, dancing bad, and just overall bad attitude) so we are going to homeschool.
So that is my "little" introduction. I am nervous and excited to start this journey with them. I am not set on my curriculum yet, i am still researching, but i would love to hear good reviews on what works for you.
WELCOME! What have you looked at so far, and what did/didn't you like about it? What works for one might be a terrible fit for another. Actually... I have some things I love, but they don't work for my son, so that's also a consideration (learning/teaching style differences). Are you sticking to a budget? Are you looking for religious, secular, or doesn't matter? Are you looking for an all-in-one kit, or do you want to find the best curriculum for each subject to match each child?
Welcome! I am fairly new to homeschooling, we just started in January with my 5 year old daughter. My oldest sons attend public school. We started out with a curriculum that I loved but that was a disaster for my daughter. After several changes we now have a program that is working great for her, but that will likely need changes for her younger siblings as they start more formal educating at home.
BensMom asked great questions - if we know a little more about their learning styles and your preferences I am sure we can give lots of recommendations
Alison - Mom to: Augustus (2) Maximus (3) Eleanor (5) Reid (6) Evelyn (8) Lucas (12) Christopher (14)
i am looking for a curriculum that is not too expensive so i have kind of put out of my mind the all in one kits. I am looking at things mainly for math and language arts. My main focus is going to be on the 3 R's. Im leaning towards unit studies for the other subjects. Are there any LA curriculums that offer all the branches of LA in one book or box (however they come) I think i would be willing to pay a little extra to make sure that they are learning what they need to know about spelling, grammer, reading, ect.
TIA for all your info and help.
oh i forgot to add as far as learning styles go my daughter (going to be 1st grader) is very hands on and easily discouraged if she doesnt "get it" right away. My son (going to be 3rd grade) is easy to teach and learns fairly quick. He is always the top of his class in every subject. He likes to learn, and uses every opportunity to learn something.
...my daughter (going to be 1st grader) is very hands on and easily discouraged if she doesnt "get it" right away...
She might be a perfectionist, she might have a learning disability, or she might just be a typical first grader. Hard to tell at that age. If she's a perfectionist, she'll be reluctant to try new things until she's had plenty of time to figure them out in her head first, and if she messes up, she'll be crushed from the embarrassment. If she's learning disabled, she may try really hard over and over to do something, regardless of who's looking, and will get discouraged after all her attempts fail. Somewhere between the two is what a typical first grader might look like. Those are very broad descriptions, and of course not all children fit into those sorts of molds, but it might help you understand her better.
Unless you get a boxed curriculum, there aren't a whole lot of programs out there that contain all the language arts you'll want (at least, not at the level of rigor you might want). Most people (self included) prefer to mix & match to find what works best for them. Here are some things you could consider:
Spelling - I prefer Sequential Spelling (SS) myself (very cheap), but there are a lot of great programs out there. All About Spelling (AAS - hands on, but expensive), Spelling Power (SP), Spelling Workout (SW), etc. Here's a free online spelling program that gets raving reviews as well. Spelling & Vocabulary Website: SpellingCity
Reading (phonics) - For phonics, I absolutely LOVE Explode the Code (ETC ... appx $7 per workbook, and there are 8-ish of them through 4th grade). There's an online version for it, too, but it's not nearly as good as the workbooks, and it's also not free. You'll find people who don't like ETC, but most people do. Other publishers who have really good phonics programs are Abeka (Christian, but not "in your face") and Rod & Staff (R&S ... extremely Christian). I'm sure others will jump in with their favorites, too. Some like "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but I don't. It's a love it or hate it sort of curriculum. I know I'm leaving some out, too. Hooked on Phonics (HoP) works well for some, but I don't really like it, either. That's just me, though. All that really matters is what works for you!
Reading (comprehension) - I LOVE "Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter" from EPS. They're available for grades 2-12, if I remember right, and they're fun, because you know each story will be completely different from the previous one. The early books are just one paragraph with a few questions, and the later books are much longer readings with inference questions and creative writing assignments. The lessons range from biography to math to cooking to fiction. Some aren't even in paragraph form. Some are charts or recipes, and you have to figure out the answers by looking at only what they've given you. It's pretty cool. Explode the Code has a sister series called Beyond the Code, but we didn't like it at all! I wouldn't go with that one if I were you. I don't know anyone who'd be benefitted by that series.
Reading (readers) - Pretty much every publisher will have these, or you can do what we do... just go to the library! Practice reading for comprehension (ask the child to tell you what the book was about, whether they liked it, what they would've changed, etc.), and practice reading for fluidity (reading orally at first). Also be sure to look up any words the child doesn't already know. Don't limit a child when picking out books from the library. If something catches their eye and looks really interesting, get it. They'll either change their mind later, or it'll really be interesting. Even a book that is higher than the child's reading level is fine. You can read together, and hearing you read will show the child how oral reading should sound. Telling a child no to a book (assuming it's not in the adult section or something) implies they're not good enough for that book. It's very discouraging to an emerging reader.
English/grammar - I love, love, love Rod & Staff, however, it's extremely in-your-face Christian, so it turns a lot of people off. Where most books would have you find the simple subject in "The dog chased the ball," R&S would have something like "Isaac married Rebekah." R&S is a mennonite publication. The books are hardback, high quality, very cheap, and rarely have revision, so they're easy to resell later. English goes from 2nd to 10th grade, but those are mennonite grade levels. Their 2nd is more like most people's 1st, and their combined 9th & 10th grade book is more than most people get in college. For most students, the 2nd thru 8th grade books are plenty. R&S puts a ton (really... a ton!) of review into all their materials. You shouldn't feel like you're cheating yourself if you decide to skip something, and a lot of it can be done orally, too. Starting in 3rd grade, you'll have worksheets (optional). The 2nd grade book doesn't have that option. R&S starts out a little behind our grade levels, catches up in about 4th grade, and then makes a bit of a leap in 5th grade. As I said, their 8th is more like our 12th. Don't plan on any one book taking exactly a year. The earlier ones might be rushed through, and the later ones slowed down.
Another English option I like but have chosen not to use is Shurley Grammar.
Writing (penmanship)- For print, I like Handwriting w/o Tears (HWT - secular), and for cursive I like Abeka and Pentime (both are slightly Christian).
Writing (creative) - I like Writing Strands. It's non-graded. You move to the next level when you're ready, regardless of age. It's very non-threatening to students for that reason.
Wow. Where to begin? Maybe I'll just come back for this one. It's another novel.
Ok... now for math. Definitely look for placement tests when possible, because math publishers vary considerably in what they consider important for a particular grade level. IGNORE the grade levels they tell you! If you think your kids will have a problem seeing the "wrong grade" on their assignments, make photocopies or something. That way they won't know. (Or tell them it was published in a different state. )
Teaching Textbooks (Definitely do the placement tests, because TT starts out very slow and is even 2 grades behind other publishers in some places. It picks up in middle/high school, though.)
Time4Learning (T4L) - I know very few people who actually use this as their entire curriculum. Most people use it as a fun supplement or a summer refresher. It's not very rigorous, and I'm pretty sure you can't just do math. You have to get the whole package. Switched On Schoolhouse (SOS) - Again, this is a complete curriculum, and I think it starts at 3rd grade, so your younger one couldn't use it.
Horizons - Horizons Math Readiness Evaluations (this is the placement test for horizons, which tends to be very advanced. you might need to start back a grade level for this one)
Abeka - also very advanced, but not as much as horizons
R&S - Very "old school" with tons and tons of review, no flashy colors or pictures, and that sort of thing. It's also about a grade level behind at first but gets back on track with other publishers by 4th-5th grade.
Miquon - (scope & sequence) - This is what I'm using (after trying a zillion other things). It's hands-on and teaches kids how and why. It's kid friendly because each page is a different (solid) color, and the font size/style is easy on a child's eyes, but it's not flashy or filled with irrelevant pictures like most modern texts are. This one was popular in the 60's and has made a come-back. There are 6 workbooks which are supposedly 1st thru 3rd (2 per year), but they're not "graded". They're "the red book" or "the purple book" so that kids aren't intimidated by a grade level on the cover. You can work as fast or as slow as you want, and you're not tied to doing 1 page a day. Some assignments will be so quick that you can do 5-6 pages, where some might take you a couple of days to do just one. The teacher's manual (called "Lab Sheet Annotations") and the counting rods are required. The other stuff ("notes" and "diary") aren't necessary. This curriculum teaches higher level concepts right from the start, so kids aren't overwhelmed when they hit algebra. They've been substituting letters for numbers all along, for example.
McRuffy - I haven't used this one, but it gets wonderful reviews.
RightStart - Also very hands on, and gets great reviews.
Singapore - I personally don't like this one, but it's extremely popular and is a solid program. Don't discount it because of me.
Saxon - This is wonderful in the later grades, but not very many (self included) like it before about 4-5 grade. It's also quite expensive and has a bit of an overwhelming teacher's edition.
Math Mammoth - We have some here using this, so they can comment better than I can. A lot of people like this one.
Calvert - One of our members (Butter) uses this complete curriculum. It's pricey, and I don't know if you can order one subject at a time. She can tell you more about it.
Seton - Catholic complete curriculum. I don't know if you can pull out one subject or not, but if you're Catholic, it's one you could consider.
Bob Jones - This one looks & feels like Abeka, but it's not quite as advanced. It's right on target, I'd say. I like it.
Alpha Omega Lifepacs - Very boring, and not very rigorous at all. Some people like them, but I don't know very many who do.
Video Options (which technically would include Khan Academy listed in free options above ... Khan is done through YouTube)
Math-u-see - (also comes with textbooks, and is very hands-on, but expensive)
Mathtacular! DVDs - There are 4 of these, I believe. They start at the K level and go through elementary. I think they're expanding to high school, but I'm not sure. Personally... I'd use this ONLY as a supplement! You'll need to print worksheets from the computer or something to practice what's taught.