I get questions all the time. “What is the best 9th grade curriculum?” What do you like for 4th grade math?” What is the best 6th grade social studies curriculum?”
Over the past 21 years of home education, we have tried quite a few things. Our homeschooling style is a mix of relaxed and rigorous, year-round, and large-family-style. I believe that a Christian education with a biblical worldview is vital, and I believe that it does not take twelve years to educate a child. With all of that, I present our homeschool curriculum picks.
I want you to know that no matter how much I love what we use, and will highly recommend all of these, I still want you to pick what works best for your family. Each homeschool is unique, and what works great for us may not work well for you. So I’m also including my how-to for choosing curriculum.
Newbies: please know that the 3 or 4 companies you see recommended on Facebook are not all there is. Not by a very long shot! Homeschoolers have more choices than most people can even comprehend.
This post contains affiliate links.
A Little Reasearch
Homeschoolers have a language all their own. There are several methods, and within those methods there are multiple curriculum choices. Learn the lingo. Understand the methods. Don’t rush into the most popular curriculum on social media. Find what works best for your family. I have a detailed blog post on this.
If you want to compare several of your choices, you should check out Cathy Duffy Reviews. And get a used copy of one of her books. (They are no longer in print, but the info is still valuable.)
And in case you haven’t read my book, Anyone Can Homeschool, there’s a lot of helpful info about education, teaching, and getting started:
Accredited Homeschool Programs
Basically, there’s no such thing. There are accredited schools, but a curriculum cannot be accredited. So if you are using an umbrella school, where the school assigns the schedule and the curriculum grades the work, and keeps records, it will be accredited.
But homeschoolers don’t need accreditation anyway. If college is your concern, see my post all about high school transcripts and graduation. Rest assured, thousands of homeschoolers across America are accepted into college every single year, and all they need is a transcript and/or acceptable test scores.
As Christian home educators, Bible should be the top priority in our day. It’s the most important thing. I have written extensively about this. As far as curriculum goes, I only use one real curriculum, which is the Picture Smart Bible.
But there are several non-curriculum things that we do, too, and I have some detailed blog posts here:
We also LOVE the Creation Apologetics Master Course from Answers in Genesis. (Actually, we love everything from AiG. We even have a subscription to AnswersTV.) The Creation Apologetics class is a great high school curriculum, though my middle school students watch the videos, too. We all do the quizzes together. I cannot stress just how awesome this course is as a homeschool program.
Math-U-See has been our family’s curriculum for about 12 years. I love it because I am not math-savvy (everyone has their strengths and weaknesses!), so I appreciate the video instruction. It is a mastery program, with each level focusing on honing one complete skill: Alpha teaches addition, Beta teaches subtraction, Gamma teaches multiplication, etc.
Each level comes with the Instructional DVD and/or streaming access, Teacher’s Guide, and Student Workbook. Most levels also make use of the manipulative blocks (which are life-changing!). One set of manipulatives will take you through all the levels.
There are multiple options for how to order and what to use: DVDs, streaming, and online classes. We have used the DVDs for so long, and I keep re-using curriculum with my kids as they grow, that I’ve never tried the streaming option. We also make use of the free resources on Math-U-See’s website: online drills, printable worksheets, and more.
When your kids get to high school, they must take the Math-U-See Stewardship course. It is biblical and amazing. And also, check out Steve Demme’s podcasst: Building Faith Families. You can see why I love this company!
Read my related post: Delaying math instruction might be a good thing
My high schoolers always watch the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace series with us. But with my third child, I purchased the Foundations course for high school. He loves it. It’s Financial Peace, but it was specifically designed as a homeschool program for high school, with more relevant content for teens. It’s on sale a LOT, so get it when it’s cheap!
This is where you’ll see my mix of “relaxed and rigorous.” I’ll link to some blog posts that explain our methods on launguage arts instruction below.
The most important, constant thing we do is read. I read aloud to all the kids, they read to themselves, and everyone enjoys audiobooks.
Reading instruction is the first thing my kids do in school. And that’s it. I just focus on phonics (and with that comes spelling). I have used two different curricula successfully:
Abeka Handbook for Reading Phonics Textbook
This manual will teach students how to apply phonics rules through six easy steps to reading. Blends and words are arranged to correlate with the sequence in which special phonics sounds are taught; the early introduction of vowels helps students move quickly to whole words. Students will learn to recognize short vowels & their sounds, consonants & their sounds, blends, how to sound one-vowel and two-vowel words, the sounds of the long vowels, and special phonics sounds. Review and practice exercises are integrated. Grades 1-3. 6″ x 9″.
- A Beka Phonics
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
By S. Engelmann, P. Haddox & E. Bruner / Simon & Schuster
In only twenty-to-thirty minutes a day, you can have your preschoolers and non-reading elementary-aged children at a second-grade reading level within 100 days. A complete, step-by-step program, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons includes everything parents need; using the DISTAR method, lessons follow a sensible, simple plan that doesn’t require complicated planning or difficult add-on activities. Building from simple exercises that cover sound identification, decoding words and sentences, irregulars, and more, lessons slowly build to more challenging tasks; vocabulary, examples, and the teacher’s aspect of the lesson are carefully controlled to help children comfortably progress to a fluent level. Lessons are fully scripted with teacher instruction integrated into the examples and demonstrations. 395 pages, softcover.
This program can be used for bright 3-year olds, on-track 4 and 5 year olds, and non-reading elementary students, but is not recommended for struggling readers who make mistakes.
- Basically, we are a Charlotte Mason/classical blend when it comes to language arts. That means lots of reading (silently and aloud as a group) and copywork. I don’t introduce a grammar curriculum until about age 10 (or roughly middle school), and I don’t use a spelling curriculum at all. In fact, the only thing my kids do until age 10 or 11 is reading and copywork. After that, here’s what we do:
- Copywork all the time
- Easy Grammar every couple of years
- Institute for Excellence in Writing every couple of years
I do not believe in daily, yearly grammar drill, or writing just to be writing. I believe in focused instruction and occasional review. And tons of reading, all the time. Easy Grammar is great for elementary school, and a bit of review in middle school. I don’t use it much at all by high school because reading, writing, and copywork should be reinforcing everything they’ve learned.
I don’t do “literature” courses, but I do incorporate literature into every day. Here’s how I do that:
Teaching Literature: A homeschool program in literature feels artificial to me. Reading good books is a natural part of life (or it should be!).
Now, for us, history includes geography, literature, Bible, some science, worldview/apologetics, and even incorporates writing and copywork. So I use the term history loosely when it comes to a “school subject.” But you should know I’m a history buff and so I take it very seriously. You can follow me on social media for my regular soapbox moments on that, and of course, visit my bookstore: Knowledge Keepers Bookstore.
We are currently using Mystery of History, and have no plans to change that. I’m actually blogging our journey through Volume 1 for you to follow if you are interested. I use ONE CURRICULUM for all of my kids. It’s a real time and sanity saver. You can see how we blend many topics with “history.”
I have also used, in years past, Beautiful Feet Books, Sonlight, and Story of the World. I have since ditched SOTW because I want to focus on God and the story of Christianity throughout history. SOTW only does this minimally.
Along with the basic curriculum, we read LOTS of books: historical fiction and non-fiction that includes firsthand accounts as often as possible. Here are a few of my reading lists:
If you’re in Texas (and hey, even if you’re not, amiright) I want to tell you about Discover Texas, a Texas history curriculum unlike all the rest. Go check out my review here. It works for elementary, middle school, and high school.
This is one of the most important reasons for home education: a biblical worldview. And I believe it starts with Genesis. There are some great companies out there providing solid science curriculum for Christian homeschool students. Here’s what we use:
Berean Builders is by the same author as Apologia science (which is great, too). We use it at the elementary level, and I use one book with two kids at a time, instead of two levels for two kids. Do you see a trend here?
The 101 Series is a vdieo-based, Christian science program that can be as laid-back or as rigorous as you want it to be. See my review here.
There are various other things we use at certain grade levels.
I believe that a foundation in Latin greatly improves English. We have typically started Latina Christiana around middle school.
All you need to do is watch the news, surf social media, or talk to random people to know that Logic is truly lacking today. Prepare your high school students with this excellent course written by one of our favorite scientists, creation astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle.
Cursive handwriting is still very important. Read my post about how I teach it and why. (Free resources included!) If it hasn’t been taught in elementary school, that’s okay. I think every child should learn it, even if they get a late start.
Typing 101 is a free and effective online course that’s great for elementary through high school. My kids love it!
I hope you found something helpful here. As I said at the beginning, my list is not THE list, so don’t think that you will mess up if you choose something else. One of the best things about home education is freedom!
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