First, let me say that I am completing my 2nd year of homeschool. I love my children. I have a brain. I have done lots of research, questioning, and prayer. However, by no means do I consider myself anywhere near of an expert on the subject of school curriculum….not one bit.
I have had multiple questions on why I chose what I chose and why I aborted A beka. If you are like me at all. I love to hear what other people use and why and then filter it into my world and how it fits into my gig. So, here goes. Random, unprofessional, thoughts on curriculum a la me….
First off, I tried SONLIGHT last year. We used it for weeks. The company has unmatched customer service and incredible return policies. This curriculum requires a ton of parental involvement and a ton of reading. My kids have had a strong classroom setting background for 5-6 years and they weren’t super comfortable with the switch in learning styles. Sonlight has little to no tests, quizzes, or worksheets. I think it is an awesome curriculum if you love literature and reading and plan to do a TON of both. It is a user friendly curriculum I think, as the lesson plans were super easy to understand and use. Another downside is because you are purchasing so many books, it is quite expensive.
A BEKA. From what I have gathered from people I have come in contact with, A beka seems to be viewed as a solid, traditional, kind of “old school” curriculum. It is worksheet driven. It is bright and colorful. It has incredibly detailed lesson plans. Down to…”say this, say that, etc.” I used A beka almost exclusively (Bible was with Positive Action) in year one. I used it almost exclusively this year for my kinder and parts for my 5th/6th grader. My Kinder is super tired of worksheets and I simply can’t seem to wrap my brain around the lesson plan/teacher guide books For some reason they are so tedious and confusing for my brain and we don’t play well together. This is one of my main dislikes about the curriculum. I have also heard that their science is super easy. I really can’t attest to that, other than to say it comes from people that I know and trust in the education field.
Why I’m eclectic ~
So, you can choose a curriculum company such as A beka, Sonlight, Monarch, Switched on Schoolhouse, or others. You can order an entire grade. With A beka for example you can order the student kit and teacher kit. Choose any additional supplements they offer and you will be set for the year. I would recommend this for the first year if you are unsure of what to do. There is so much to learn and figure out that using one publisher can really eliminate a lot of work by getting used to different styles and layouts of the various curriculum choices. I found it helpful.
The second year, I deviated a bit more as I become more comfortable with home school itself. This year I will became totally “eclectic”. I made a list of subjects and inserted the curriculum that I wanted to use to fulfill that subject. I have seen people who use exclusively one publisher, those who don’t ever use more than one subject from the same publisher and everything in between. I think there are pro’s and con’s to everything and every combination. I also think, especially for those of us who are new to this, that there is the possibility to get lost in the oceans of curriculum and all of the shiny options. Research is super important, but at some point you need to just make a decision. With that being said I also feel like if something is completely not working, go ahead and switch.
Personally, I have several teacher friends that I periodically check in with. I also plan to do the testing for my kids. I also continue to periodically check homeschool reviews etc. I also completely commit this to prayer as I really believe God will guide me to find what is right for my kids and this home.
I personally want a mix of learning options for my kids. It seems to fit us best. Some computer, some worksheets, some reading. Just well rounded with lots of variety. I want some tests and some quizzes. I want some independent work and some unit studies that will provide me teaching my kids together. I want everything with a pretty bow on top. I feel putting in a bit of extra work and going eclectic allows me my bow.
I am using EXPLODE THE CODE. My six year old daughter is kind of “worksheeted out”. The downside to using all one curriculum is that everything starts to look the same. I love variety and I think its natural my kids will too. My daughter has done 2 solid years of A beka and I just think it is time to change it up. Explode the code offers an online deal for $65 a year that is a huge draw to me. It is the only part of school that I plan to have my first grader do online. I also have purchased the workbooks and she will do these as well. They are all black and white from what I can see, but have adorable little stick type figures that my daughter already finds “so funny”. The teacher books are written in a way that I completely understand which is huge. I need them. I will confess that I have a bit of anxiety knowing that I am really the one responsible for the foundational learning that she is doing. My other two were at a great school during the first few years of their education. When I brought them home, they had a wonderful foundation under their belt. Explode the Code has fantastic reviews and when you combine that with the ease of the teacher guides, the online options…I’m set and excited about the change.
I am switching to HORIZON from A beka for math primarily for two reasons. First, the lesson plan/teacher guide books again just make sense to me when I read Horizon. A beka does not. Second, there is a manipulatives kit that is used with this curriculum that I am looking forward to. I think this is going to be a great addition to my daughter’s learning. Again, she is kinda over the repetitive continuous worksheets. This will provide some variety for both of us.TEACHING TEXTBOOKS is a permanent fixture in our home for math. I love it. It begins in third grade, however. We will have to wait a bit longer for my soon to be first grader to start that.
WORDLY WISE is a program I found by looking on the Sonlight website. My kids have done A beka spelling for awhile, but I feel like they just memorize the vocabulary and don’t have a huge ability to use the words correctly. Soooo naturally I was drawn to a program that is primarily vocabulary. We will use the same vocabulary list for the spelling as well. This program begins in K. I will be using the first grade set for my youngest. I love it.