Discussing the various homeschool programs and curricula available used to be a favorite topic of mine. Pouring over catalogs while I drink my afternoon tea is still something I enjoy on occasion, however my enthusiasm is somewhat waning these days. There was a season when I believed that a perfect curriculum, producing amazing results in my children, could actually be found in one of those catalogs. Now though after homeschooling for over 10 years, I’ve come to realize that just as there is no perfect church, there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. Probably any curriculum would produce satisfactory results as long as it is used consistently. The problem comes when we teachers just don’t enjoy using certain programs because they are not as clear as we would like, or perhaps too teacher intensive. Some programs have excessive busy work and we homeschoolers realize more than most that there are not enough years to cover all we want to teach….so we happily trash the busy work. With that being said, I do have some favorites that I’d like to share with you. The following programs worked better for our family.
Math– Don’t be afraid to switch curriculum. We made changes every few years and were always glad we switched. When my boys were little they loved Abeka Math and I did too. They enjoyed the colorful pages and seemed to be learning quite well. Then as they entered 4th grade or so we switched to Saxon and I found the explanations to be more thorough than ABeka. For Pre-Algebra we switched to Teaching Textbooks which we loved for a while. Now for Algebra 1 we are using Dr. Firebaugh’s Math Relief. Dr. Firebaugh is somewhat dry but is very thorough and we like him! It’s nice having an actual teacher who even allows us to call him if we get stymied. I don’t call often but have 3 or 4 times and find Dr. Firebaugh to be gracious and helpful. Math is one of those subjects which we would probably struggle with somewhat no matter which curriculum we used. I’m delighted that we are continuing to learn and understand at our own pace….one of the beauties of homeschooling. Do you remember being pushed along in Math before you understood the concepts? I sure do.
Science–We have not completed a ton of Science but enjoyed the following programs. We used Considering God’s Creation from Eagle’s Wings in a homeschool Co-op when the kids were little and found it to be educational, biblical and fun. We totally loved Jeanie Fullbright’s Science from Apologia. I wish I would have begun using her program earlier. She has Astronomy, Anatomy, Botany and more. Her curriculum series is designed for students in elementary and middle school and gives a solid science foundation, yet has a strong biblical stance. I cannot say enough about this program and would consider reading the books myself when I’m done homeschooling! I’m nuts…I know. 😉 For highschool science we are blessed to find a teacher at the local Christian college who has designed science classes for homeschoolers.
History-History has been the most enjoyable subject for our family. My husband loves it….I love it and our children do too! We began using A Beka history in Kindergarten and use it nearly every year. We never complete all of the requirements though. Sometimes we simply read through the history and discuss it…on car trips, at the kitchen table, before bed…anytime….very casually…. as a family. Other years we supplemented with tests and quizzes in order to bolster and reinforce what we read.
We also enjoyed Story of the World and many of the suggested activities. We disregarded some of the projects that placed too much emphasis on false religions or gods in order to focus more on our own faith. For example, we briefly discussed Buddhism by comparing it to Christianity but did not spend time doing the coloring page of Buddha. Although I enjoyed this curriculum my personal preference leans towards history programs that are in Christian perspective.
My husbands favorite way to teach history is through reading historical fiction novels. He especially appreciates the old books written before 1950’s. The children’s books by Enid La Monte Meadowcroft are his favorite bedtime reads.
We are currently studying world history with The Mystery of History. I absolutely love it! Linda Hobar writes in a style that is so easy to understand. Each lesson is interesting and yet often leads to a worldview or spiritual discussion. This curriculum is a keeper for me…one that will remain on my bookshelves for my grandchildren someday.
Writing-We’ve tried many different writing programs but my favorite one so far is IEW. The Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa is an excellent program that will give your children some very practical tools to begin writing paragraphs. There are lessons on a DVD to watch featuring the engaging and entertaining Mr. Pudewa. The assignments are very achievable and your children will actually be able to begin writing. I highly recommend this program.
I hope you find this helpful as you teach your children. May the Lord bless you and multiply all of your efforts. ~Anne