2019-2020 Homeschool Curriculum Choices and WHY
Every year I get asked the same question about nine hundred times. What curriculum are you using and why? Below you’ll find an outline of everything we chose and the reason why. Each curriculum I have chosen can take my kids all the way through high school. If you’re like me, searching for new curriculum each year can be exhausting (and I’ve found that it doesn’t really make that much of a difference for us when we do change). So I’ve discovered curriculums we like and we’re sticking to them (unless something really provoking changes my mind).
Morning Baskets for Elementary Kids: These baskets are wonderful to use for any age group. Everyone from your youngest baby to your oldest child can benefit from morning basket time. The way we do it is fairly simple. I let my kids go to the non-fiction part of the library and pick about half a dozen to a dozen books they find interesting. I provoke them to choose various topics including science, cooking, biographies, new skills, history, artists, etc. These books are divided between two baskets. I also include maps, an atlas, dictionary, thesaurus, poetry books, and anything else I think would be fun to read or look at during this time each morning. I use a basket a week. So I’ll put one basket out every morning for 5 days (or 7 if they want to do it on the weekends, which I never discourage). And then the following Monday, I’ll change the basket to the second one. Then we’ll go to the library at the end of that week and start over. Some things never change in the baskets, but they’re interesting enough for a whole year (i.e. the dictionary with full-color graphics I purchased a couple of years ago).
Morning Baskets for Toddlers: For my kids who aren’t quite school-aged, I put various items that work on different skills. Flashcards for colors, numbers, shapes, letters, etc. Board books, patterns, puzzles, fine motor skills activities, and dry erase boards all make their way into baskets. The key is to make sure you have enough items for a couple of different baskets so that there’s variety through the year. You may even want to completely change the baskets halfway through the year.
Math: Horizons is what we’ve used for about three years now. My biggest suggestion with math curriculum is to spend a few years really discovering what works best for each of your children and then stick with it as long as possible (if not all the way through their schooling). This will eliminate any issues of “holes” in their math journey. For a few years, we changed curriculums each year or even every semester and I noticed that some things were repeated, while others we missed. Math is math and since it’s an important subject, we want to make sure we do it as seamlessly as possible.
Language Arts: Character Quality Language Arts is a great program for teaching multiple grades. The curriculum offers grade-specific books, but you can choose to have your children cover the same theme— which keeps things somewhat connected for the parent. There are different options for the character themes so you can choose which ones pertain to your child(ren) each year.
Science: Apologia works well for us as I can teach both of my students at the same time and they can work together. My favorite thing about Apologia is that the curriculum focuses on one concept for an entire year (or semester if you choose). Many science curriculums jump from space to animals to energy to life science all in a span of a couple of months. While my children were maintaining some of that knowledge, they weren’t really learning much. The idea behind Apologia is that students will actually master each subject they learn. It may seem like your kids aren’t learning as much as other students who get snippets of various things all year long, but if you stick with the program, the results should be in your kids’ favor.
History: Mystery of History is another “multiple grades” friendly curriculum. This curriculum offers three different levels of assignments at the end of each lesson. I will even have my toddlers coloring or playing with playdough while they listen to these lessons as well. It is a timeline Christian-based curriculum that takes children from Creation to the year 2014 (and I’m sure it will be updated as history continues to be made). There are four volumes, and if you use it from the start of your child’s education, they can repeat the volumes and use the later volumes for High School credits. There’s a full scope & sequence on the website!
Reading: Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress are great options for reading comprehension. They are online and require a monthly family subscription, but it allows me to help each kid with math (which they still need at this point). The program offers reading comprehension levels for kids preschool age to age thirteen.
Composition: It might be because I’m a writer myself, but I believe writing is crucial! So I also use Writer’s Express – A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers & Learners to go deeper in composition at least once a week. I want them to have the best writing and articulation skills possible!
Extras: I tend to be eclectic at times and throw in more poetry one week, a little music study the next, or a random nature study. I might do something special for an approaching holiday or plan a field trip. The extras are the fun part and homeschool parents should decide what extras are best for their students. Every family’s interests are different and that’s one of the joys of homeschooling.
Tentative School Day Schedule
I’ll end with an outline of how I attempt to do things on any given day. We also volunteer for Meals on Wheels once a week (I highly recommend this to any homeschool family), visit my grandmother at least once a month, go to the library, get groceries, etc. This schedule doesn’t always happen perfectly, but you’ll notice I don’t have a specific time beside anything. We might start at 7:30 AM or we might start at 10:00 AM. Whenever I get off track or we get interrupted, I just pick up where we left off. We might finish school at 1 pm or we might finish some things the next day. But an outline keeps me sure that everyone is at least attempting to complete their work each day. Good luck out there to all of you homeschooling parents! I only have two school-aged right now and two others coming quickly behind. I know others who are schooling five or six at a time. It can be challenging, but it will be rewarding; I can assure you that!
|5th Grader||3rd Grader|
Morning Basket Time
This is also the time I spend the most with my two toddlers (ages 2 and 3) while my older kids have free time to explore what’s in the baskets independently.
|Horizons Math 5||Reading Eggs|
|History (Mystery of History) or Science (Apologia)
History M, W, & F
Science Tu, Th
|Reading Eggspress||Horizons Math 3|
|Character Quality Language Arts
Spelling, Composition & Grammar included
This curriculum is done at the same time since my 5th grader can work more independently. I work back and forth with each student. This will take about 60 to 90 minutes depending on what we’re covering that day. We also throw in that extra writing time here at least once a week.
|Personal Reading Time – 30 min
We always end the day with personal reading time. These are books that the kids have picked to read from the library and they’re super interested in them. If I’m lucky, the toddlers are still napping and I can enjoy a good book as well!
Featured Image by Kassi Russell