The first question just about everybody asks me when I tell them I homeschool is…
“What curriculum do you use?”
I’m never irritated or annoyed because I did the same thing when I first started home educating. Basically, I was saying, “I have NO idea what I am doing, and I need somebody to tell me the silver bullet that it is going to make this crazy new adventure turn out well!!!!” in other words…
Bad news…there is no silver bullet. You have to find what works for you and your kiddos. But I am always happy to share what I’m using in hopes that it will help others think through what they want to do before they flush…uh, I mean spend all their money trying different curriculums. So, to answer your question, here is what I do:
Short answer: I use good books. I am a reader. I want my kids to be readers. Readers are thinkers. I use good books.
Long answer because I am aware that the short answer is not good enough for most of us:
Arithmetic: Math U See
Why?: Because I love the manipulatives. One of the frustrating aspects of public school math was that my daughter was having to draw her little squares to do the math problems. So, as she was adding 387 to 254, she would mis-draw and therefore mis-count and then we were both in tears (and of course all of this was after she had already put in 7 hours at school!)
So far: We’ve used it for 5 years and all enjoy it! The above mentioned child is currently in the Epsilon book (fractions and such) and is still enjoying it. I have three younger ones who all use it and so far so good!
Language Arts: Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Why?: Because I LOVE good literature!!! And I don’t want to have to buy a writing curriculum, grammar curriculum, spelling curriculum and literature curriculum separately (because, hello! I have to feed these children food and put clothes on them as well so I can’t spend ALL of my money on curriculum!). These books have all of the necessary aspects of language arts in one book as well as narration and discussion points that guide you through talking about ideas, beliefs and concepts being taught.
So far: I just love it and it works for us.
Social Studies: Story of the World
Why?: Because once again, I LOVE good literature! I have found that when I present facts to my kids in a story format, they remember them so much better than just doing a fill in the blank method. We create time lines as we go along and I hunt down historical storybooks to go along with the time period that we are reading through.
So far: We have almost finished going through this four volume series for the first time, and I plan to do just start back over at volume 1 and go through it again. This series does offer a workbook to go along which I will be looking into getting for my 6th grader. As for the younger grades, I just let them enjoy the stories! They are filing all of that info away and I trust that when the time comes, they will be well-informed on historical and political events.
Science: Nature Study
Why:? Because kids are naturally curious and ask better questions than most fill in the blank textbooks. We go outside and explore with nature journals, sketching what we see, writing down observations and questions that come to mind. Then we take it home and research (like scientists do). We search online, we check out books at the library, we have a collection of field guides and several beautifully written nature books that also contain lovely drawings for reference.
So far: We enjoy learning about the world this way. Will we do a formal science in upper grades? Of course! But we aren’t quite there yet, and as we discover what works for that age, I will be sharing my discoveries here. (Sorry, Mommas of high-schoolers! Hang in there!)
The Arts: We study the arts as we study history. Also, most of our literature read alouds coincide with our history study. So for example, as we were learning about the Civil War, we studied artists and composers from that time period, and I read aloud from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott which is set during the Civil War.
Why?: This allows us to have discussions on how art and music have influenced and been influenced by the events of history and also to observe the evolution of the arts throughout centuries. There are great FREE resources on YouTube that teach about different artists and musicians. One of our favorites is FREE SCHOOL. You can also find instructional art and music videos on YouTube and Pinterest that teach actual techniques. Also, don’t forget about your local library! I always try to pick up some books from the kids section about art, music, famous inventions and whatever else my kids are showing an interest in!
So far: We draw, paint, learn art and music history, take music lessons and just have lots of fun with all of it by allowing our passions and inspirations to guide us along the way.
Not every curriculum or method works for every family - this is what is working for ours and I hope this helps you think about what your goals for home educating are and how to structure your curriculum and methods accordingly. I would love to know what you are using and why! Sharing is caring so share in the comments below!