Please read on only if you are researching about what to use in your homeschooling. If you are currently using a program that is working for your family (children are learning), I highly recommend you keep at it (especially since the effect of a program usually becomes evident after a few years of use). The introduction of better-looking (seemingly improved) curricula will never end. From experience, it is not the specific curriculum you use that makes a difference, it is YOU learning with your children and making the most of the programs that you already own. Beware, switching programs too often can be detrimental to your homeschool health!
Note: Last updated: June 9, 2014
General references that have influenced our home school:
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
- A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
- Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson
- 100 Top Picks by Cathy Duffy
- The 3Rs by Ruth Beechick
- Homeschooling High School by Gowen Dennis
A summary of links to some of the programs and materials we use that I mention in this site:
We owe to Sonlight our love for reading as well as science. We own and have used (older versions):
- SL Core P 4/5
- Core C – Introduction to World History Part 2
- Core D – Introduction to American History Part 1
- Core E – Introduction to American History Part 2
- SL Language Arts D as part of Core D
- SL Language Arts E as part of Core E
- SL Science P 4/5 – Plants, Animals, and Machines
- SL Science B – Animals, Astronomy, and Physics
- SL Science C – Geology, Meteorology, and Mechanical Technology
- SL Science D – Biology, Taxonomy, and Human Anatomy
- SL Science E – Electricity, Magnetism, and Astronomy
- SL Science F – Health Medicine and Human Anatomy
- SL Science H – General Science
- Sl Science 150 – Physical Science
- SL Science 250 – Biology
- SL Science 350 – Chemistry
To supplement Sonlight Science, we use this immersion approach program to science. Each book focuses only on one area of science. We have used and continue to enjoy Astronomy, Botany, Zoology 1, Zoology 2, Zoology 3, Anatomy & Physiology. Using the Notebook Journal will really help cement the lessons in the textbook.
We have used Units 1 & 2 and currently finishing up Unit 3. As the website says, a “Bible curriculum that actually teaches the Bible!” We especially like that it systematically goes through the different books of the bible not necessarily chronologically so that there is variety. Includes memorization of verses, timeline work, and geography map work, weaves in review of past lessons throughout the units, and provides worksheets for varying levels.
Definitely helped us understand the “whys” of Math. Math-U-See uses the mastery approach to learning math. We have used from Primer to Geometry.
As one of the older existing math curricula, Saxon Math can be depended on to ensure that your child is learning everything that is covered in the usual school grade levels. It uses an incremental and spiral approach in teaching math. If your child needs a lot of repetition, Saxon provides thorough review of material. All children have begun with our favorite, Saxon K. We have also used Saxon 1, Saxon 2, Saxon 54, Saxon 65, Saxon 76, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 with our Math-U-See textbooks. Oldest was using the Advanced Algebra level when she switched to Art of Problem Solving (Intermediate Algebra text).
Although we stopped using Singapore Math at around the 5th grade level the first time around, we’ve felt the need to use it again with a second set of students (OK, have to admit because of test scores) . So far, we have used Singapore Math K through 4th with success. This program presents math quite uniquely and sharpens the children’s mental math skills.
So far we have only completed the Beginning Algebra and Advanced Algebra levels and second child was happy supplementing Math-U-See with this program. This program presents math in the form of a story. It also stresses the application of math to real life. Our Geometry and Trigonometry texts are currently being used by 10th grader (who just completed Intermediate Algebra by Lial to round out her Algebra studies) and 11th grader (who is working through her Art of Problem Solving Intermediate Algebra text)
We only discovered this when we were teaching our third child to read. We made a switch to this program for two main reasons. First, SWR really uses phonics to teach spelling and reading. Children learn to read by learning how to spell. This may take a longer process than teaching reading first but it definitely ensures that they not only can read but they can spell. Second, one purchase will allow you to use the program from beginning reading level to grade 6 for ALL of your children. You just need to buy a separate spelling notebook (logbook) each year. No need to buy separate phonics and spelling workbooks for each level per child. After this program you can switch from spelling lessons to vocabulary lessons (Vocabulary from Classical Roots). We also noticed that our children who learned to write cursive first use cursive more comfortably earlier on than those who learned to write manuscript first. The continuous and rounded strokes of cursive seems to just come more naturally for young children!
Our 1st and 2nd grade introduction to nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc. Lessons are done orally with a little, even optional, writing assignments. Also introduces poem memorization. With my older children, there were not other levels of FLL so we move to Rod and Staff English after the 2nd grade level. However, 3rd and 4th children have used FLL3 before moving on to Rod and Staff English 4.
Although this is a more traditional grammar text (like those I used when I was in school), it is very thorough and teaches grammar quite systematically. We also love that it teaches diagramming. We have used this from grade 3 to grade 10 (last book in the series).
We have used Writing with Ease 1-3 and currently working through the 4th level with my rising 5th grader. As introduced already in First Language Lessons, Susan Wise Bauer continues to walk you through the composition exercises of narration, copywork, and dictation. Great selection of literature used in these books have whet the appetites of my children to read the entire books. We followed up or combined this writing course with Classical Writing. Third child, was however, able to finish the first level of the next series (Writing with Skill) this last school year as it became available.
The Older Beginners version (of Aesop and Homer) was the first book in this series that we used since it took awhile until we discovered this program. While younger children are working on Homer, high schoolers have completed Homer and Diogenes. Oldest is about to finish Herodotus. This program, I would say, is a “parts to whole” approach to writing/composition much like Spell to Write and Read was to spelling/reading. Some home school curricula may claim to teach writing but this seems to be the first one to really do so that we have tried and that we have found worth our time.
This curricula uses history as a context for studying other fields such as literature, church history, fine arts, writing, geography, government, and philosophy. You can pick and choose. It comes with a comprehensive guide that schedules weekly readings, activities, assignments, and teachers’ notes. We especially appreciate that TOG provides us with topics to discuss with the children as we help them to form a godly worldview and to think critically.
This is a great introduction to Latin. So far, our oldest child has continued on with more serious Latin. Why study Latin? For us, it’s a good way to prepare for studying other languages such Greek (the new testament’s original language) and French (Oh, Canada!). English words have Latin roots.
A one year college Latin text that can be used for two years in high school.
The first is an immersion approach computer program introductory French. The second is a more grammar intensive approach to learning French.
Some Logic and Rhetoric texts we use:
- Mind Benders
- Detective Fallacy
- Thinking Toolbox
- Introductory Logic
- Intermediate Logic
- A Rulebook for Arguments
- Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student
From Tree of Life Book and Service, one of our favorite Canadian suppliers. Their catalog describes this music program as follows: “This music appreciation course is versatile enough to be a multi-year program, or a simple one or two year overview of Western art (“Classical”) music. Designed to develop in the student a Biblical philosophy of music, an appreciation of all sorts of music, and the ability to think critically about the music he hears…” The complete program comes with 5 music CDs.
So far our favorite among art resource books we have tried. This is actually not a program but a book teaching children and adults basic drawing skills.
A complete art program with volumes from K to high school. For more, please read: In Pursuit of Art.