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Topic: Homeschool Curriculum Confusion

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Subject: Homeschool Curriculum Confusion
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2009
Posts: 2
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I'm currently exploring the possibilities of homeschooling.  I have an almost 4 yr. old and an almost 2 yr. old.  I have heard several different curriculum names tossed around, most frequently hearing A beka with Sonlight running a close second.  But when I look at the websites for these 2 curriculums I don't feel I get much of an explanation about them, how they work, and what i will need for a complete set.  I don't want to leave anything out of my children's education.  Can someone help?


Thank so much.


Date Posted: 2/19/2009 11:27 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2008
Posts: 695
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You might want to read a general book about homeschooling to get a feel of your philosophy.  That will go a long way in determining the curriculum you will choose.

Cathy Duffy has a book that discusses the curriculums.  My youngest is 10th so it's been a while since I read this type of book. Perhaps other swappers would be able to suggest a good book or website that might help you get a better feel of the curriculum out there.


Date Posted: 2/19/2009 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2007
Posts: 89
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Since your kids are so young I would suggest holding off on buying any curriculum -they can be pricey and since your kids are young you can use so many cheaper alternatives than a curriculm --like the library.  There are also TONS of free websites that your kids might like and can learn a lot from without it costing any $$.

I also would suggest the book by Cathy Duffy that Nancy suggested -it is a good one.  Go to your library and see how many homeschooling books there are -probably lots of them!  You just need to do a lot of reading and investigating and sometimes buy the wrong curriculum (don't worry you can always re-sell it somewhere) before you find a good fit for your own kids.  I belong to a really good homeschool message board which has a lot of helpful homeschoolers who would love to answer any questions you have     http://www.homeschoolspot.com



Date Posted: 2/19/2009 3:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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As others have said, read up on philosophies/methods of HS'ing first.  Next, try and discover your childrens' learning styles (and this may need to wait until at least Kdg age or later.  Then you'll match the method you feel most comfortable with with their learning styles and your teaching styles to find a curriculum...or several...or none...that work.

I would attend HS'ing conferences also, and any "motel meetings" that curricula suppliers have in your area.  HS group swap sales, and "curriculum share" nights are also great for ideas.

I looked over many different publishers during my initial research.  Abeka is too "school-y" for me (and much more conservative), and Sonlight would have made me fall asleep on the couch reading every day.  I did end up with a "school-in-a-box" method (well, online anyway) in using K12.  But we took many rabbit trails from that, and after the 2-3 hours/day of formal instruction, my son's always been "unschooled" - doing self-directed, independent study.  This year is our sixth year HS'ing and we're finishing up using K12 and moving to a more eclectic (mixed up publishers) method.  He's also doing two different online classes (teacher-led) from two sources.  He does a local HS'ing co-op, lots of field trips, sports, scouts, and HS art classes at a ceramic/mud/glass studio.

So, I would connect with other HS'ers in your area.  If there are informal play dates at the park, that's a great place to chat with other HS'ers!


Date Posted: 2/19/2009 5:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Ditto everything else. You don't need a curriculum for prek and Kindergarten!

I would advise learning about learning styles such as in the book Discover Your Child's Learning Style plus a second topic of 'right brained learner' versus 'left brained learner'. You can start figuring those things out for your 4 YO now and then it will evolve and change as she turns 5 and 6. Knowing a combination of YOUR PHILOSOPHY and METHOD PREFERENCE combined with your child's learning style and the left brain/right brain thing will be helpful to pick out methods, plans, books, and even curriculums.

I'm assuming you know you don't have to buy one company 'school in a box' that you can buy each subject from different companies which let's you customize your child's education plan (one of the main reasons people HS in the first place right?).

If your library doesn't have that learning styles book I'd advise to buy a new copy, on discount, from Amazon as it is worth the investment. It can be used with multiple kids and adults and used year to year. It is worth the low investment cost in the new book. (Sometimes the best and most helpful books are not available on PBS when we need them).

Please do not buy a school in the box curriculum until you look at one in your own hands. You may be surprised and disappointed with what you see (I know I was).


HEre is a good article about rt. brain/left brain.


Subject: I agree
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 503
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Since your kids are so young you can use alot of free resources(free printables/activities on the net,library etc.) until you get a feel for what works for you and your children. The other members are right in getting a general homeschooling book to start. Do alot of internet research and look at samples you can download from the curriculum publishers before you spend $ if that is road you want to take. I have done most of my homeschooling very little new purchases and alot of yard sales from school/churches,thrift shops and ebay. I wish I had found this site earlier! Also, there are alot of free scope and sequence(learning guidlines by grade) to help you out when creating your own curriculum. 

Subject: link
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 503
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this site helped me alot in the beginning

Subject: Thanks so much
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2009
Posts: 2
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All the posts were very helpful.  I appreciate them.

Subject: Classical and Christian
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2008
Posts: 240
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We love homeschooling with the Classical Christian approach.  The following were incredible helps on not just cur. choices, but HOW to teach your children...

Repairing the Ruins and The Case for Classical Christian Education both by Douglas Wilson

The Well-Trained Mind by Bauer

Veritas Press Online and Logos School Online for cur.

It's a LOT of work to teach your kids, but it is such an honor and a blessing!  Best to you and your family!

Subject: Relax and enjoy your children!
Date Posted: 2/20/2009 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2008
Posts: 407
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I have homeschooled for 24 years and I have never bought all my curriculum from one source. We have used BJU, Abeka, Saxon, Beautiful Feet, Diana Waring History, and many other publishers as well. The best place to get a good idea of what is out there and see some of it first hand is a homeschool conference but you may get overwhelmed. Talk to some other moms in your area and get their input. Don't buy curriculum for your children yet. It will only overwhelm all of you. What the other swappers said is true. Read out loud to your children as much as you can. Use your public library---non-fiction as well as fiction. My children loved to check out books every week out of a variety of sections.

IF any support groups in your are have book sales, go to those and look at used curriculum. I'm afraid the homeschool community has changed a lot since I started so many years ago. We used to have great used book sales every year and it was a great place to talk to other homeschoolers and see the curriculum. I miss those days with all the on-line sales now. You just don't get the same community benefits that way. Relax and enjoy your children. They will learn if you just watch for those teachable moments and utilize them. Formal education has its place but give it some time. You want your children to love learning not dread seeing the curriculum come off the shelf.

This comes from someone who started out with my boys and a very structured curriculum (they hated reading and the "red book". My girls had the benefit of a little more relaxed mom and they have enjoyed reading and exploring what they find interesting. They have more formal curriculum now but my oldest daughter graduated last year and is in college and my younger daughter is a freshman in high-school. (still homeschooled)

Enjoy the journey,  Meg

Date Posted: 2/21/2009 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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Meg said:

<<I'm afraid the homeschool community has changed a lot since I started so many years ago. We used to have great used book sales every year and it was a great place to talk to other homeschoolers and see the curriculum. I miss those days with all the on-line sales now. You just don't get the same community benefits that way. >>

Our local groups still have in-person swap sales twice a year.  Plus, we do have Yahoo Group for posting items all through the year.

I recently joined HomeschoolClassifieds.com and I LOVE it.  I've found so much great stuff, and I've sold a lot.  There are no posting fees and you can do a free membership.  With their wanted lists it's so handy as I've found "rare" stuff just by people looking at my list.  I love the online swaps b/c it's a much broader market.  I'm the only HS'er in my area using some curricula.


Date Posted: 6/30/2009 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2007
Posts: 79
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When my children were little-bitty kiddos,  I used "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons" for reading at around age 4-5 or so (can't remember exactly).  The lessons are really short and they read fairly quickly using this book.  We did a lot of read alouds, trips to the library, and I bought a few books at Mardel's or Barnes and Noble that had learning to write letters and numbers and beginning math skills.

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2008
Posts: 42
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Great answers! Here's two other resources that were absolutely indespensible when I was researching curriculum:

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson: The whole book is great, but the two chapters where she highlights nine homeschooling "styles" and then follows a family using each style for a week was a huge help to me. Although EVERY family is different, because we hadn't started school yet, I found myself lost, really not knowing where to start. The different styles helped me narrow down the styles that would help our family flourish. We've since melded about three of them (Charlotte Mason, classical and Unit Studies) to find the perfect fit for our family.

Another fabulous resource is www.homeschoolreviews.com. Once you've narrowed down some curriculum you THINK will work for you, read the reviews from mom and dads on this site. I was considering Sonlight and KONOS. After reading the reviews, I realized that even though Sonlight is very well reviewed, it would never work with my personality. It took a tremendous burden off of me. And I didn't waste hundreds of dollars! I would have hated to find out Sonlight didn't work after spending all the money.

And I'll agree with all the others -- though it's wonderful that you are thinking ahead and anxious not to "miss" anything, I usually don't do anything formal with my children til they are 6. I let them PLAY, PLAY, PLAY. Abeka in particular has kids starting at 4, and that just blows my mind. It may work for some, but my 4 year olds aren't particularly gifted at sitting!

Best to you!

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2007
Posts: 308
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www.thehomeschoollibrary.com has decent curriculum reviews.

By far, the best thing I did when I first started was to go to a company called 3moms ( www.3moms.com) .  They sell a big old box of sample curriculum.  I had some ideas about what I thought looked good, but when my box from 3moms came I was able to line up the contenders and really see how they stacked up to eachother. 

Also, maybe start reaching out to homeschoolers in your area.  Are there any active groups?  Ask around, see what people in your area are using.  Invite yourself over and look at their stuff!

In the meantime, sit back and relax.  You've got plenty of time!

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2005
Posts: 33
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Oh Erica,

That 3moms site is wonderful! Thanks for posting it!!!


Edited for typos

Last Edited on: 7/1/09 9:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/1/2009 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2007
Posts: 308
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~ You're welcome, I hope it helps someone!

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2007
Posts: 237
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There are some wonderful articles on this site to help new and seasoned homeschoolers sort out learning styles and curriculum choices.


These were published in the Elijah Company catalog before the owners decided to leave the retail market and minister in another direction.

For children this young I would also look into the Five-in-a-Row unit studies. I'm already working on getting these ready for my grandchildren to use.


Enjoy your learning adventures!

Date Posted: 7/2/2009 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2008
Posts: 118
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We have been using Sonlight this year for my 2nd grader. When I pulled her out of school, Sonlight was recommended. Since she has a younger sister we called for the catalog and I started using the pre-school read aloud books as the bedtime stories and to read during the day. My girls love stories so this worked well for us. Most of the books are classics and can easy be ordered from the library if you can not get them from PBS. We have liked many if not most of their book selections. I would also look into Barbara Curtis, book "Mommy, Teach Me to Read". I found it very useful. My other suggestion to to look into homeschooling group in your area. Many moms (and a few dads) would be willing to let you look at what they use. It also helps you to have people to call and visit when you need a word of encouragement. Good luck and have fun.
Date Posted: 7/18/2009 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2007
Posts: 137
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Also for those just looking into homeschooling, there is a wonderful online resource from Considering Homeschooling : www.consideringhomeschooling.org.

They have a free DVD that they send new/considering homeschoolers, that helped me quite a bit in figuring out just how to to get started on this journey.

Other books I recommend: Homeschooling: The Right Choice (Chris Klicka), and The How and Why of Homeschooling (Ballman).

Don't start delving too deeply into curriculum choices at this point. The depth and breadth of choices out there is dizzying, and you really need to get a good solid idea of WHY you want to homeschool (to get your personal homeschooling philosophy) before you can really start getting into curricula. 

Just take it a step at a time. And if you are wanting to jump in and do something with your kids while you're doing all this research, get some cheap "preschool" workbooks at the grocery/dollar/drug store and have fun playing with those (only when your child has interest - don't push it, or have scheduled 'school time'), and other than that, read lots of good books to your kids!

Hope that helps some. I also hope the amount of advice/response you've gotten doesn't just overwhelm you! :-)