Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coffee Talk Thursday: Curriculum

Coffee Talk Thursday

Lately I've been researching curriculum choices for homeschooling our oldest in first grade next year. My sister-in-law generously passed down to us her A Beka curriculum for 1st grade. We would still need to order consumable workbooks for math, phonics, spelling, and language arts, but other than most everything we would need is there.


If I didn't have the A Beka materials on hand and it were totally up to my husband and I to order our own materials for next year, here's what I think I would do:
 But I'm torn, since we have been given the A Beka materials, and I feel like maybe I should just try it as suggested (with the curriculum guides and lesson plans) for a year. At the same time, I'm not crazy about creating the official classroom feel at home. That is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling--it doesn't have to look like the public or private school down the street. Sure there are times for lessons, but real learning takes place in the home all day long--even when it doesn't look "formal."

So, I'm still debating and praying about it. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (James 1:5).

In the meantime, what materials--or curriculum--do you use for homeschooling? Do you love it? What do you love about it? Have you tried any materials that just haven't worked for you (or your kids)?




  1. I started out with Abeka for kindegarten, but I don't know if it was due to my lack of teaching skills or just not getting it, but Abeka's K english program didn't make sense to me. So I switched to Explode the Code and it amazed me how fast the kids picked up the reading/phonics. But once you get through books A-C, book 1 starts to slow down and that is when I switched into the Abeka.

    Last year, I kind of used a mismash of curriculum that I thought would work best for me, but I can tell you that I started to go crazy because I felt that in certain curriculums you were missing out on a balance of topics.

    This year, I switched to Abeka across the board and am so glad that I did. Everything seems to work hand in hand and blends smoothly. For teaching two grades, 1st and 3rd, we can get most of the book work out of the way in about 1-2 hours (depending on the focus of the kids). I tend to look ahead of the books and then just incorporate what they will be learning through out the day. That way when they come to the new material in the books, they have a firm concept of it from just everyday living and the book work remains easy and quick.

    Hope this help (and make sense!) :)

  2. Thanks Janelle! Yes, hearing your experience is helpful and makes me feel better about going with Abeka if we go that route :)

  3. I taught Abeka Kindergarten through 8th grade for years in a school setting. I love, love, love the way they do phonics. I wish the reading used more real literature like Sonlight but you can always supplement. I love the how orderly and well though out Abeka is. The great thing about homeschooling is that your classroom doesn't have to look anything like school. I am now teaching a granddaughter at my home and many days we have school on the porch or at the park down the street.

    Go with your gut. You know your child better than anyone!

  4. Thanks, Suzie! I am feeling better and better about going with it next year :)

  5. We love Handwriting Without Tears! It is very multisensory, which I think is especially good for active little boys.

  6. My kids all LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the story of the world.

    I also fight this same battle each year. We started out with Bob Jones when our youngest was in kindergarten, and we love it...but I always feel like I am a slave to the curriculum. The one year we deviated from BJ was a disaster. That being said I think next year we are going to piece meal it again. Best wishes as you decide.

  7. This year for first grade for my daughter we used a variety of things:
    CLE Math (really enjoyed, but might switch to Singapore for second)
    CLE LA/Reading (OK, but I felt there were way too many workbook pages for first grade)
    Abeka 1st grade Readers (enjoyed - colorful and fun)
    Abeka Science/Health/History/Community Helpers (my daughter really loved these - we added in library books for some topics for more depth)
    Various read-alouds and poetry
    101 Favorite Stories from the Bible and 2 devotion books

    I went to an Abeka materials display last spring and really liked the looks of all of their curriculum for first grade. However, we couldn't afford to buy everything needed for their complete first grade package and just bought some of our favorite items off of Ebay. I wonder if you have compared the price of the Abeka consumables you need to get versus your curriculum choices? I am familiar with most of your choices and don't remember them as being very expensive. Maybe the costs are similar and you can go with your choices?

    Next fall, for second grade, we are using Heart of Dakota's Beyond program. I just received my box this week and have enjoyed looking through the guide - I think it should be a fun year! They recommend Singapore math (you can use the program of your choice easily instead) and I really like the hands-on activities that the author has written to accompany the Singapore lessons. We are also going to try their preschool progam, Little Hands, for our just-turned-four daughter.

    Good luck with your decisions. I always drive myself (and my husband!) crazy this time of year. I am glad to have most of my decisions made for next year (except for math.)

  8. HEy CHeryl, we used saxon math for Jayden for 1st and 2nd grade...I felt that it was too boring so am looking into horizons, singapore, math u see, etc. I also used a supplement found at barnes and nobles- math for the gifted student and that was a great deal and very, VERY helpful. For kgd and 1st grade we did Sing spell read and write- I highly recommend this as it has really helped both boys, 4 and 6 learn to read and read very, very well as well as writing in a very hands on fun way. We use KONOS for most of our other curriculum and again I love this. I am thinking of buying some grapevine studies as they do bible stories but hte kids stick figure their way through, some geography, etc...I really enjoy picking out and finding fun curricul. it is all about what works for your family and that is why I don't like just one curricul. for all subjects b/c I don't like to be put in a box. Now, for 2nd grade lang. arts for Jay we are finishing up learning lang. arts thorugh literature and, again, I love it!