Picking Curriculum, My Way

As we enter the third week of our tenth year of homeschooling, I sometimes think about why we do what we do.  I have settled into a pretty routine choice of most of our curriculum, but only after lots of reading, agonizing, switching, and second-guessing.

New books are exciting. The new wears off quickly, though.

New books are exciting. The new wears off quickly, though.

Every family is different.  And every child is different. But I still stick with some very basic core curriculum.  I tweak toward each child’s natural learning bent, but, for the most part, they all use the same stuff.  It saves my sanity, or what’s left of it.

Let’s look at our basic core subjects: math, phonics, grammar, and spelling.  I’ll do a follow-up post on science, history, geography, and electives.

Math is part of every homeschool curriculum, and there are some fabulous choices out there.  I have settled on Math-U-See after trying two others.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the ones I’d tried or looked at, but this is the one I picked.  It has lots of review, which my girls need.  It has a DVD companion with Steve Demme, the founder, teaching each lesson.  He’s a rock star in the homeschool world.  It builds on lessons slowly, and I like the way it progresses.  I have seen some math curriculums that jumped all over the place, and that just didn’t do it for us.  Neat and orderly is the way we like it.  Math-U-See fits the bill.  (I do NOT get any kind of compensation for linking to Math-U-See.  It’s strictly a convenience link for my readers).

Phonics and language arts/grammar are two more subjects that just about everyone includes in their homeschool.  The only curriculum I have ever used is Abeka.  There are lots more, and I’m sure they work very well, too.  But I started with Abeka when I didn’t know anything about anything.  It worked.  All three of my older girls read very well.  I see no reason to fix something that ain’t broke.  Abeka also uses lots of repetition, some of which I skip.  They use simple illustrations, so it’s not distracting.  A series of grade appropriate readers are available for each year.  We don’t finish all the readers every year, but I like to use them.  (I do NOT get any kind of compensation for linking to Abeka.  It’s strictly a convenience link for my readers).

Oops, I take that back.  I have used Easy Grammar and Learning Language Arts through Literature.  I like Easy Grammar for the same reasons I like Abeka.  It’s practice heavy without being distracting.  This year I picked Abeka for all three grades simply to streamline my orders.  (I do NOT get any kind of compensation for linking to Easy Grammar or LLAT.  It’s strictly a convenience link for my readers).

LLAT did not impress me as much, at least from the grammar perspective.  I don’t remember anything else specific except that I believe in learning and practicing punctuation, sentence structure, capitalization, etc.  LLAT didn’t do much of that.

Spelling is one of those subjects that has a lot of homeschoolers on one side of the fence or the other.  I’m on the “do it” side.  I think spelling is helpful for young readers.  They can begin recognizing more words and sounding out fewer words as they become more comfortable reading. For older students, spelling introduces words they might not normally encounter in reading and builds vocabulary skills.  I had used a few spelling curriculums until I found Spelling Workout.  This is really my favorite for several reasons.  It approaches spelling from a vocabulary standpoint.  Each week involves word skills, like grouping by special sounds, games, like crossword puzzles, and vocabulary, like editing sentences or definition hints.  My kids will never win a spelling bee, but they are mostly capable spellers and have a decent vocabulary.  (This is an affiliate link with Amazon.  I will be compensated if you purchase one of these books from Amazon after clicking on this link).

So, that’s part one of what we use and why.  What do you like?  Tell me about it.  I’m a curriculum junky, and I like to look at other stuff. So, make me crazy by telling me how great your curriculum is.



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