Whether you’re just starting out with homeschooling, been doing it for a while and just looking to change things up, or just thinking about the possibility of homeschooling and looking at your options, curriculum is such a daunting choice to make! I remember, when I was homeschooled years ago, Abeka and Bob Jones were the two main options. But now, you can drive yourself straight into a panic attack with all the options available. There are online, traditional books, hybrid schools. Then people start throwing around terms like Charlotte Mason, unschooling, relaxed schooling, eclectic schooling, traditional school at home, etc. It’s enough to confuse even the not so new to the scene homeschoolers!
In case you’re wondering…I’d identify our style as eclectic. I’ve got two boys with polar opposite interests and learning styles. Throw in some ADHD/sensory challenges, and well, this control freak mama has just learned that flexibility is a non negotiable. This year we’ve pieced together our curriculum from multiple curriculums and resources. Here’s what we’re using, and why we chose each item…plus we are heading into our second week, so I can give you an idea of what I have and haven’t liked about each one so far.
Language Arts/Literature: The Good and the Beautiful Level One
What we are loving: My oldest has ADHD and hates reading. We struggled through kindergarten with any type of practicing. At first, I was overwhelmed with how intense the curriculum looked, and went in pretty sure we were going to fall flat on our faces. But I had seen so many good reviews that I had to try. There was a little bit of a learning curve for us, finding our footing in the new layout as with any new curriculum, but at the beginning of week two, I can already see his confidence boosting and we aren’t in a power struggle during language arts lessons anymore! The focus on mastery vs. constantly moving onto new information because that’s what’s scheduled for the day has been doing wonders! By the end of the first week, he had already mastered one sight word ladder (8 words) and mastered 4 out of 5 spelling words in his weekly assessment. They also encourage read aloud time, and we’ve been loving the bonding time reading together (I read to them in a book above their level while we cuddle or they do quiet activities). I opted to get the free downloadable version since we hadn’t tried it before, but I’d definitely opt for buying it already printed now.
What we aren’t loving: The beginning of the year assessment was pretty stressful. I’m looking into ways to make some adjustments before doing it again at the end of the year. The assessment is supposed to be time, with only a certain amount of time to attempt to read a word before you tell the child what it should have been and moving on. My son was anxious about the time and was frustrated that I kept telling him the word before he could work it out and moving onto the next one. He also became visibly upset over seeing me track the number of words missed. I think a lot of this had to do with struggles from last year and coming into the year, knowing he would be behind in this area. Like I said, after week one, I see his progress and confidence improving, so hopefully this won’t be an issue when we reassess…but I just wanted to forewarn anyone who may have an anxious child or one who is struggling in reading since I didn’t realize initially that we would be doing a timed assessment on day 1 and hadn’t fully prepared for the anxiety it would create.
Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful
What we are loving: Lessons are kept short and fun, incorporating drawing and coloring to work on motor skills as well as letter and number formation.
What we aren’t loving: No complaints on this one!
Science: The Good and the Beautiful (And possibly other misc. unit studies…will update with those as/if we choose to use them)
What we are loving: It is set up for multi-level family style learning, so we can all learn together! So far, all the experiments have been super fun and a hit with both my boys! The photos are beautiful.
What we aren’t loving: Although it is marketed as K-8, if I didn’t have one child in 1st grade already, I would probably hold off on using it for my kindergarten level child. He enjoys watching the experiments and participating when he can, but it’s a bit above his level overall.
What we are loving: We only do this once a week or every other week, so we’ve only done one project so far. But from what I’ve looked through ahead of schedule and what we’ve done already, I like that it is simple but still appeals to both my boys and can be used again as they get older and we will get to see their skills progress. It also hasn’t required any crazy amounts of extra supplies that I wouldn’t already keep on hand to create with.
What we aren’t loving: I really wish there were more crafts in the curriculum. But we just really love creative projects. For some, that might get overwhelming, and I don’t mind turning to Pinterest or just having some unstructured art time, so that’s mostly just personal preference.
Math: Master books
What we are loving: The story and real life application format! This has been helping incorporate more reading time in our day to improve those skills while also pairing something he’s struggling in with something he enjoys and excels in.
What we aren’t loving: The difficulty level is leaving something to be desired for him. Now, we are only in the beginning, but so far it’s just learning numbers. This could just be something we need to adjust for him since he’s always been above grade level with math, but for this year we are focusing on bringing reading level up and will supplement for extra challenges in math as needed. Next year we will evaluate if there is a need for more challenging material.
Social Studies: Master Books
What we are loving: The emphasis on the world around us and how we fit into that. Because of his ADHD, my oldest struggles with impulse control and how his words and actions affect the world around him. This has been a helpful tool in teaching him about this. He also loves that there are a variety of types of activities throughout the lessons.
What we aren’t loving: Throughout each lesson section, there are highlighted vocabulary words. At the end of the week, the student is supposed to search for them and write the words on index cards. This may not be a big deal for many kids, but for my son, it was a lot for one sitting. Moving forward, I think we will just write down the vocabulary words daily as we go instead of waiting until the end of the week, so it’s not that huge of an issue.
Language Arts/Literature: Learn to Read with EP
What we are loving: The lessons are short and simple.
What we aren’t loving: So far, my younger son is doing well with the curriculum, but my oldest, who has ADHD, struggled a lot with the reading. We are observing how it goes, with our second son before completely removing it though.
Handriting: The Good and the Beautiful
What we are loving: The lessons are simple and short. The also incorporate coloring and drawing to keep things fun.
What we aren’t loving: No complaints!
Science and Art: Group study with 1st grader
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