Making the choice to homeschool is overwhelming. Unfortunately, the overwhelm doesn’t stop there. Every year, homeschooling parents everywhere, have to also decide which homeschool curriculum they will use for the year. The choices you make can often make or break your homeschool. But don’t let me scare you. Many parents actually really enjoy choosing their homeschool curriculum.
Currently, I am entering my third year of homeschooling. During this time, I’ve learned quite a bit about what I want in a homeschool curriculum. For example, I want my curriculum to be as close to secular as possible and as straightforward as possible. I don’t want a curriculum that is hard to piece together or steeped in religious ideology.
My children also have their own needs for curriculum. My fifth grader really flourishes best with a hands-on curriculum and when I am not the teacher. My ninth graders both enjoy book work and working one-on-one with me. Knowing the needs of your children is also a huge factor for choosing curriculum.
With that being said, we are all different. Each family has different needs, lifestyle and beliefs. What works for our family may not work for your family and that is okay. But if you are interested in seeing what works for our family, you will find our homeschool curriculum picks below.
English – Essentials in Writing & Nessy Phonics and Spelling
I have tried it all with 5th grade reluctant writer. Last year alone, we used three or four different programs with little success and growth. This year, we moved on to using Essentials in Writing and it has really been a gamer-changer. The included video lessons are short while the writing portion is split into short and manageable portions. This makes it easy to complete all the work in a single session without overwhelming my learner.
Math – Singapore Math
Most people have a love or hate relationship with Singapore. In this family, for the way my 5th grader thinks, it has been a great fit now for a few years. He easily understands the concepts and we move quickly through the workbooks.
History – Curiosity Chronicles
This is our first year using Curiosity Chronicles and I can say that we would use it again. I’m not in love with the cover art of the book and do believe it could be better designed. However, the content is great and is easily accessible. We listen to the audio files and draw along while we listen. There are a variety of accompanying activities that we have enjoyed doing such as cooking a Moroccon dinner and timelining our way through history.
Science – Elemental Science & Mystery Science
Last year we really fumbled with science. However, this year, I feel pretty good about our pick. Elemental Science provides a clear path for parents who want to provide hands on activities and learning experiences. The program does require purchasing or borrowing books outside of the program to use as spines.
Spanish – Homeschool Spanish Academy
We recently just started using this program. Compared to other programs with live components, Homeschool Spanish Academy is very affordable. The classes are short and not too challenging. I like that we can schedule as many sessions a week that fit our lifestyle and learning needs.
Supplemental – Outschool
Our family loves using Outschool to help supplement our learning. In particular, my 5th grader uses Outschool a lot to take both coding and fun science classes. Sometimes we use Outschool as a full resource (learning a coding language) and other times, it is only used adjacent to our current learning.
English – Novel studies from Blackbird & Company
Considering I am an English teacher, this is the one subject I am willing to piece together with my 9th graders.. We focus on reading poems, novels and analyzing them for major themes, text structures and literary devices. We talk about these texts on a deep level and take our time working through them. Both my 9th graders also take time working through vocabulary using Word Roots by the Critical Thinking Co. My goal is to prepare them for college level writing so we focus on mechanics, style and breaking free from the five-paragraph essay.
Math – Geometry by the Critical Thinking Co.
Last year, we had a very good experience using Algebra 1 from Critical Thinking Company. We’ve continued that experience by using their Geometry text this year for both my learners. My 9th graders are easily making their way through this text.
History – The Classical Historian
I stumbled upon the Classical Historian by accident and cannot recall where I found this program. However, I was drawn too it because it is based around discussion and research. Plus, the price tag was not bad. This is a new program for us and I can’t say for sure if we love it yet. But, it is a big improvement on our history choice from last year. This program requires some leading by the parent educator but a majority of the work is completed independently by the student.
Science – Open Tent Academy & Mr. Q’s Science
At home, I have two ninth graders and believe it or not, they don’t share every program. One of my ninth graders is considering a career in a science related field. My other ninth grader will probably probably find their way to art school. On top of that, I have one who enjoys video/zoom based classes and another who wants nothing to do with. Open Tent Academy has been great for more rigorous live instruction while Mr. Q’s has been great for my other ninth grader to move more at their own pace. With that being said, there is a huge price discrepancy between the two programs. I am very thankful that Open Tent Academy offers payment plans when taking multiple classes per year with them.
Japanese – YesJapan, Duolingo & Outschool
One of my ninth graders is learning Japanese and so we patchwork together different resources. The core of learning happens through a subscription program called YesJapan. For live classes to practice speaking skills, we use Outschool.
ASL – Open Tent Academy & Outschool
My other ninth grader is learning ASL which is a highly visual language. In order to facilitate this we use live instruction through Open Tent Academy. We get weekly practice in through a weekly ongoing class on Outschool. We’ve found this to be a good balance so they are getting in plenty of practice and getting the most out of their new language practice.
I would be remiss to say that I love all my homeschool curriculum but it is what is working for us currently. It is also the first year in which I don’t feel the need to change a curriculum mid-year and this always happens. My biggest tip for new homeschoolers is to list your priorities and be willing to try things. You might find some programs to be a great fit on the first try. But don’t be disappointed if you have to try lots of things before you find a winner.