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So many choices - how did YOU decide?


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Hi all,

I am at a very beginning stages of HSing and am seeing so many different curriculums and resources for every single subject. So, without buying every single one of them and trying it out - how did you decide what to use?

 

I am looking for completely secular one for K - 1st grade as my son is somewhere in between with his skill level.

 

Would love to hear ideas, suggestions past and present experiences from you all

 

Thanks

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For K, I still felt secure in not needing any particular curriculum. I did buy a math curric because I didn't feel confident in covering the skills and assigning the needed daily practice in that one subject. Other than that I picked up random workbooks if I needed my dd to work on a particular skill like handwriting or long vowels. I covered things I wanted to cover: art, Bible, reading, K social studies units using the internet and library and enjoyed doing so. As I went through the year I read lots of hsing books to figure out how to plan elem. school.

 

I discovered the Well Trained Mind that year, after I had discarded it in the past. Something that year brought it back to my attention. I noticed that I naturally taught the way it suggested in a lot of ways. I also liked that in a lot of subjects that I could continue to plan using library books and emphasizing what I wanted to and would not be tied to somebody else's checklist. We could follow rabbit trails as they came up and yet still be moving forward in our scope and sequence, using the WTM as a guide line.

 

As far as what in particular that I buy, well, I liked the math curric I picked so much, that I stuck w/them for our other skills subjects for the most part, just moving up a grade each year, and it has worked well. As for how to fill in the scope and sequence w/what resources each year, that is the fun part for me. I can use the library, and buy a few things to use as spines each year that stick out to me. I can use multiple catalogs and compare. When I see a particular book in each one, I know it is one that I don't want to miss...

 

Not being tied to a particular purchased curric gives us the freedome to use co-op classes, extra curricular activities, local history opportunities, and such as our school at any time I need to. Many times I can use the skills outlined in WTM around a big scout project or a science fair project and incorporate all or several of the subjects into it as a unit study.

 

I use many WTM recs (love SOTW for grammar stage and MP for latin..) and know particular publishers that I like and check when I need something else to fulfill a particular need. I have fun looking for science stuff each year, as I have never found one particular publisher that I like. I just follow WTM rotations and use what I like each year (or what I have on hand)

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I did a lot of reading on this forum and tried to find resources that sounded like a good fit for my ds. I started with two subjects, then added more as we became comfortable with what we already had. This allowed me to find out how ds learns best. Sometimes you discover that a particular style of learning doesn't work well for your child. It is best to discover this before you purchase a ton of resources to fit that style.

 

We started the year trying to make our learning mimic a school setup, because that's what I envisioned homeschool to be. We sat at a desk and filled in worksheets. Although ds was ok with this, I realized that he had a higher retention when we learned sitting on the couch reading together or doing things where he is free to roam around the room. We had a lot more fun, too.

 

When dh comes home from work he usually asks ds what he did for school that day. Ds usually replies that we didn't do school that day. Much of what we now do he doesn't see as school -- he pictures school as sitting at the desk doing worksheets. So we may have done 2 chapters from LoF, played math games for 30 minutes, read stories on our current topic (science or geography) for an hour, spent 10 minutes on AAS and 15 on handwriting, listened to an audiobook while playing LEGO or drawing, completed 30 minutes or more on free reading, and then played a strategic board game together. That's a very full day of scheduled learning that he feels is just part of our day of fun activities. For me, that means I have achieved the right fit for ds (for his age) where his learning and playing is intertwined and he is enjoying the day.

 

Does this mean we have found the perfect curriculum choices for everyone? No. Some children enjoy worksheets, others may not be able to sit through all the reading we do. Everyone needs to find their own fit. At the beginning I think this requires some trial and error. My advice is to really pay attention to how your child learns best before you get too excited about curriculum. Try some worksheets, use hands-on manipulatives, read some living books, have your child draw what he learns, or narrate stories. Find something that resonates with him, then think of what material you want to cover and see how you can teach it to match your child's learning style.

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I just spend way too much time researching and looking over samples, reading here, etc, and try things out. The fact that you are wanting strictly secular will narrow the field considerably for you as that takes out a few major players (Sonlight, HOD, MFW). We tried MUS, R&S and Singapore for math before I settled on CLE for the long run. I still have my K-2nd graders do Singapore though. Then we switch to CLE. Sometimes it just takes time, trial and error.

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I researched. I picked. I tried it. I hated it. I picked again. And that worked for us. I put on my blinders and STOPPED researching and reading whatever everybody else was using or it would have driven me nuts. Now I'm rather secure it what I'm doing and I can happily read about all sorts of curricula and not really feel any temptation.

 

Research it to a point. Then pick what you want to use. Know there is not just one perfect curriculum. There are many excellent choices. Pick one and put on your blinders to others and work the one you have for your family. Then on your own evaluate whether you feel it is going well or not.

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When I first started buying curriculum I made sure to choose ones that were geared for multiple types of learners.

For example, Handwriting Without Tears was a good choice because it utilizes multiple learning intelligences. Similarly, All About Spelling used more than one path in teaching concepts, so I purchased it.

 

The curriculum choices that flopped or required massive amounts of tinkering on my part were those that were geared toward one type of learning only. I do fine tune the other programs for each child, but I have been able to use the programs that allow for multiple learning strength with much more ease and with multiple children. (A feat that my bank account thanks me for!)

 

 

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I researched . . . a lot. I read what people thought (both positive and negative) to get an idea of why someone liked or disliked a particular curriculum. That always helped me know whether it would be a good fit for us. When we were starting out (and I was choosing curriculum for PK-2nd), my focus was on finding the most effective curriculum in the smallest amount of time. I wanted instructional techniques that were backed by research, but didn't want our time wasted with busywork or twaddle. As my kids have gotten older (3rd and up), my focus has been on finding the most challenging curriculum in each subject area. Someone else may be looking for something else in a curriculum.

 

We have had very few missteps and virtually no curriculum-hopping. Once I've found the right curriculum, purchased it, and it is working moderately well . . . I stop looking and researching. I make a choice to be happy and make it work. Don't try to fix what isn't broken. Don't chase after the newest, shiniest thing. I'm doing more research now that my oldest is approaching middle school, because we will have to make some big choices again for higher level curriculum. It's fun to research, but at the end of the day curriculum is just a tool you use to help you educate your child.

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I am in the same boat as you, and it sounds like my daughter is at about the same skill level as your son. I have mainly been focusing on researching different reading curricula, since learning to read will be our first priority. I've finally settled on LoE Foundations as a starting point b/c it is supposed to address all the different learning styles. It also has a lot of games for reinforcement and looks like it will be fun for such a young learner. Hopefully after using this for a while I will have a better idea of how she learns and what she enjoys, b/c it looks like it has a little bit of everything in it.

 

For math, I know that I want to use something that is very manipulative-based, since children this age are so concrete. There are lots of curriculum choices that rely on manipulatives, and w/o knowing her learning style yet I really don't know which one might work best. I think I'm going to start with Miquon and cuisenaire rods b/c I like the philosophy behind it and because it's not crazy expensive, so if it doesn't work I haven't wasted lots of $$.

 

As far as the other stuff goes, I went online and found the performance/common core standards for my state public school system just to get a general idea of scope and sequence for the different K-1st grade subjects. I am going to use the library and suggestions from this forum and homeschooling books to fill in with books and activities that I think would be appropriate. For science, I see us doing lots of hands-on experiments, cooking, nature study, etc. For social studies, I want to read lots of stories about people in different times and places and start a timeline and a wall map to keep track of the when and where we encounter in all our subjects. We will do homeschool classes for art, music, and gymnastics once a week.

 

I think this will probably be enough for us for the K-1 level. I have no idea what I plan to do as she gets older. I guess I will look at what's working/not working after this year and go from there. It IS very overwhelming getting started, but also very exciting! Good luck to you!

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I'm just starting off as well but have settled on my curriculum choices to start. I did a lot of research, as well, and read through multiple topics for each thing I was interested in to get pros and cons. I also searched for blogs with reviews of certain curricula or of people using it regularly. I think the most helpful thing in order to decide would be before buying anything, to get a good feel for different homeschooling philosophies and try to determine where your personal philosophy might fall (not necessarily that you would subscribe to once specific method but just to get an idea of what seems right to you). In my case, I read several montessori, waldorf, and charlotte mason inspired books as well as the Well Trained Mind (I knew I didn't want to do unschooling or some of the other methods so I ruled them out first) and I feel I have a good idea in terms of what I would like to do and would like to see in our homeschool. Additionally, it is also very important to have a good idea of what your child's learning style and interests are like so that you can also see what kinds of curriculum would benefit them best. You also want to know where your child is at learning-wise (ex: knowing alphabet and sounds, counting, addition, subtraction...etc) and where you would like them to be over the course of the next couple of years. Once you have an idea of these things, I believe it becomes easier to narrow down what curricula you are interested in and then through the reviews and hearing the pros and cons, it may become easier to make final decisions. I would suggest that once you are done buying and have everything you've settled on, you stop reading through curriculum threads until it is time to plan for the next year again so you don't get a case of self-doubt and wanting to buy all the latest things.

 

I think at the end of your first year, you probably will have an even better idea of what worked and didn't work and what kind of stuff you want/need more of and what you should avoid. I'm still starting my first year so personally I don't know yet. I admit that I am starting off with a 'box' curriculum in a way and supplementing because I felt I needed hand-holding for at least this first year and that I could have the freedom to branch off from their with supplements. To be honest though, I'm a bit of a curriculum junkie and probably don't NEED everything I have but my hope is that it will help me get a clearer idea of what my son needs for next year.

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Hi, I'm new to homeschooling myself and have a K'er and I am/was in the same boat as you. I was so confused and had the most difficult time deciding! There is so much good stuff out there I wanted to try them all! :laugh: but I have finally come to a decision. :hurray: Will it work in the long run, I don't know, but I'm just happy I finally made a decision after months of research. This is what finally helped me narrow down my decision:

 

Of course, tons of research and reading a million threads on this board. I have learned alot by reading about other experiences especially why someone doesn't like something. In fact, I would have to say that was a big help for me because some the things that someone dislikes about a curric was exactly what attracted me to it! lol

For example if someone said they didn't like something because it was too scripted - well, that's what I want...scripted. I don't have to use it exactly but I want it there.

 

Listing the top 3 most imporant things I want in a curriculum - Christ centered, minimal prep and hands on stuff with great books. You want secular so that would narrow things down for you quite a bit.

 

Finding out what my philosophy/views were on education - charlotte mason, classical, textbook approach,etc...I finally figured out I like a little bit of everything but leaned more toward gentle early years and moving into more rigor later.

 

Looking at my situation and my personality as a whole - I work from home and have an infant so need something planned out for me with minimal prep and honestly I'm just not a bells and whistles type of person and need something that I know I will implement. It doesn't matter if it's the best out there and it gets rave reviews because at the end of the day I know myself and if it has alot of moving parts and or prep I probably won't do a very good job in implementing it and might even just sit on the shelf. I'd rather start simple and add to it if I need instead of the other way around.

 

My daughter's personality was defintely taken into consideration and that helped rule out a couple of things but if I'm going to hate teaching something that will probably show so I still didn't base everything just on that but it has to be something I can tweak for her as needed.

 

hth

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Know thyself...Know thy child.

 

Researching is only part of the equation...a large part, but not the only part. You can have the best curriculum plans in the world, spend thousands of dollars, and have an absolutely miserable experience, usually because the material presentation/method of instruction is a horrible fit to one or both of you.

 

For example...many people LOVE Saxon, and while I didn't mind it, it drove my son to tears (along with 100EZ Lessons). Both of those are good curriculum, but they were horrible for us. I fell in LOVE with the classical method. I was determined to do read alouds, copy work, WTM... one BIG problem? Reading aloud puts me to sleep...literally. That was a problem. Audio books was a solution. Another unanticipated issue? My oldest son is not a speedy-reader. He reads very well, comprehends very well (tests off-the-charts well), but it takes monumental effort to read through material. The year we switched to VP for literature, history, etc. (all reading-based), next to NOTHING got done. He couldn't handle it. He reads like his dad (I can read the same material in 1/4 the time it takes his dad to read..) So, that was a huge BUST.

 

Another issue *I* have is benchmarks...I like programs and processes. I like to see a definite "end" to a subject. When there is little definition, I tend to pile on too much, because I don't want to miss something. These are fully *my* issues...but they make an impact on how I *feel* about courses we wind up using, and feeling like material is mastered. Whenever I attempt to stray too far from my comfort zone, it doesn't work (I knew myself well enough to avoid unit-study-type curriculum). Also...I'm not someone who is good overly hands-on with all of my children. I have 4 in school right now. I have to find systems and processes that work, a way to balance everyone's needs.

 

My current Ker is not "driven" to learn, the way her older siblings are. Due to life being what it is with a 3rd grader, a 5th grader and a 7th grader, I cannot sit and "do" everything with her...she is my first child in Abeka Academy (which I'm using with her, because I can guide, facilitate, and she's getting the attention she needs...while giving me time to work with the others throughout the day. If we didn't have Abeka Academy for her this year, I don't know how we'd get everything done without my losing it). My 3rd grader and I do LA together...but that's about it. He does VP online with his older sister, and currently is driven to learn/read/do everything he can with Apologia Zoology 1...he also handles most of his math independently. My 5th grader is nearly 100% independent (She follows her schedule, brings me her work to check, and if there is an issue/question, we deal with it). My oldest son *should* be 100% independent...but he is easily distracted. I'm setting the timer for him, keeping him on track...I take care of laundry, small projects around the house, and do my writing (when I'm working) in the cracks (or, if dh is home, I close myself in the office and get some uninterrupted work time).

 

What school has looked like for each of my children has changed over the years. The early years were not the "same" for my 4 children currently in school...and depending upon whether or not I start getting paid, next year will be a whole new ball game (one I dread a bit). This is why, for me, it comes back to: Know thyself, know thy child :D

 

Best wishes!

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I researched . . . a lot. I read what people thought (both positive and negative) to get an idea of why someone liked or disliked a particular curriculum. That always helped me know whether it would be a good fit for us. When we were starting out (and I was choosing curriculum for PK-2nd), my focus was on finding the most effective curriculum in the smallest amount of time. I wanted instructional techniques that were backed by research, but didn't want our time wasted with busywork or twaddle. As my kids have gotten older (3rd and up), my focus has been on finding the most challenging curriculum in each subject area. Someone else may be looking for something else in a curriculum.

 

We have had very few missteps and virtually no curriculum-hopping. Once I've found the right curriculum, purchased it, and it is working moderately well . . . I stop looking and researching. I make a choice to be happy and make it work. Don't try to fix what isn't broken. Don't chase after the newest, shiniest thing. I'm doing more research now that my oldest is approaching middle school, because we will have to make some big choices again for higher level curriculum. It's fun to research, but at the end of the day curriculum is just a tool you use to help you educate your child.

 

 

Would you mind sharing what you used/use?

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You've gotten great advice so far. :) I'm just finishing up my first year. A friend of mine recommended Cathy Duffy's book 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. It has a "quiz" that you can take to determine which styles appeal to you, information about what learning style(s) your child might be, and then curriculum choices based on what you've chosen. It helped me narrow the field of options.

 

But after all of that, I did end up choosing one curriculum (MBTP) that did not work for me or my son. I just chalked it up to experience and put it away to possibly try with my younger son.

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Trial and error and this board.

 

I'm to the point where I just pick something that's pretty great all around and just do it. I'm over trying to make every subject awesome in every way. It's not really what's best for us at this point.

 

For a beginner, I think it's best to see things in person and see if you have an IRL friend who can advise you.

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One piece of advice someone gave me was to print some sample lessons and try them out with your child before purchasing. If you and your dc hate it from the get go, it might not be the best fit for now. In particular, this helped me choose a math curriculum after I had narrowed it down. Hth!

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Also, considering the age of your child, I would suggest picking one subject to purchase curriculum for and letting the rest be game/play/using what you've already got centered at first. Spend some time with the curriculum you choose, see what works, what doesn't, what your child's strengths are and let your discoveries inform your other purchases.

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i've learned what to use through trial and error. in hindsight, the best curriculum is the one that actually gets done. so for us, anything that requires too much prep and planning probably isn't going to work here. so when looking at curriculum, take into consideration what your limitations are and what your kids actually like (i.e. don't get craft based or lapbooks if your child hates those types of activities).

 

imo, don't spend a lot of money on K and don't curriculum hop. you will go to forums and read rave reviews, and you will be tempted to switch (a lot). switching is fine, but switching often and never following anything through will leave you frustrated and eventully behind.

 

 

K was such a fun year! :)

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I did a lot of research, but mostly, I got to know how my kids think and learn and how I thought and taught. There is LOTS of flashy, fun looking really well written curriculum out there. If I know how my kids learns, what his/her interests are, and how I teach best, then it narrows the choices down a lot. I've made a lot of bad purchases too though.

 

For K, I don't worry too much about curriculum. The Well Trained Mind is a great book to keep on hand, but other than that, find a good phonics program, and read to your kidlet lots. We spend a fair amount of time on reading and exploring our world for those early couple years. I talk as much as I can, and sometimes they hear what I say and understand, and sometimes they don't, and that's ok. They are being exposed to science, history and literature in a easy, natural way.

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I started researching when my dd was 8 months old, which doesn't help, but you asked what we did. I read the WTM, became inspired, and have never looked back. I love learning about all the different ways to teach our kids and have devoured information about so many different kinds of curricula. I also paid attention to what attracted me and had to be honest with myself. My biggest fear going in to homeschooling was that I would be all excited about it in theory and then not want to do it after a few weeks of practical application. For this reason, I am attracted to curricula that challenges me and teaches me something, you know, keeps my attention. I also know that if I have gather materials every day or week, it just isn't going to happen. So I need something that either doesn't require gathering, or that I can gather up all at once. Teacher education isn't an issue because I'm willing to be trained in a program, but I have to believe in it. I like scripted, but I don't use the script exactly. I use it as a guide. I don't want a rigid schedule, and I'm fairly comfortable with my abilities as a teacher. And I loathe busy work. Everything we do has to have a point or I will burn out very fast.

 

These factors, combined with the fact that we are homeschooling for academic reasons and that we are fairly solidly classical, have led me to where I am. Throw in a daughter with autism, and that really mixes up the pot, although mostly in the form of fewer stories for teaching (no Life of Fred or MEP for us), more work for me to phrase all lessons in ways dd will grasp, and more iPad apps and visual learning than I would like for a nt kid. My younger two daughters are totally normal, though, so it is almost like I get to plan two different kinds of homeschools! It is a good thing that I enjoy it so much.

 

For me, deciding is a big part of the fun of homeschooling. I just finished buying all our Kindergarten stuff for the fall and am feeling planning withdrawals. Having said all that, Kindergarten is the perfect time to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Good luck!

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Meagan, my boys are pretty much the same age as your girls ('08, '10 and '11) and I had some of the same concerns/fears as you - that if I have to gather too much - I won't do it and htat it has to keep my attention as well as theirs. It will be interesting to see our journeys :)

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Hi all,

I am at a very beginning stages of HSing and am seeing so many different curriculums and resources for every single subject. So, without buying every single one of them and trying it out - how did you decide what to use?

 

 

How did I decide? I started with reading The Well Trained Mind and went from there. I expanded my search with this forum.

 

I am completely secular. Here is what I used for K and 1st:

 

Kindy~

 

ABeCeDarian/ Reading Reflex for teaching reading. This worked great for my older two. I'm looking into All About Reading for my upcoming K'er simply for something new.

 

Right Start math level A

 

D'Nealian handwriting books

 

then I just add lots of books games

 

First~

 

Continue reading instruction with above

 

Right Start math level B

 

First Language Lessons level 1

 

Writing With Ease level 1

 

Story of the World Ancients

 

Real Science Odyssey Biology or Noeo Science (the contents is all secular)

 

lots of books and games

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What helped me tremendously was doing a home schooling test. A friend gave me a link to an assessment of my teaching style and my daughter's learning style and what type of schooling would fit for us. Once I figured that out, it was just a matter of finding the curriculum that fit both of us.

 

That's not to say that I'm not tempted and don't curriculum shop all over the place. LOL!!!!!

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It also depends on what you mean by secular. Secular as in no religion mentioned whatsoever (even in myths/stories) or ones where world religions are ok to introduce? Oak Meadow, for example, is secular, but there are world religion stories mixed in. Otherwise, I would stick to the basics-

 

RightStart math, MEP, Singapore are all good secular options for math

 

Ordinary Parent's Guide, All About Reading, and Dancing Bears are good for secular phonics

 

A collection of story books, fairy tales, history books for literature exposure

 

I would stick to non-fiction for science books (for that age, just pick ones they are interested in at the library!) or Real Science Odyssey

 

WWE 1 for 1st grade

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I mean "secular" in "not a christian" curriculm. At least that's the descriptions I've seen - either Christian or secular.

 

I will certainly be teaching religions as a subject, but I don't want all other subjects to have a Christian theme - does this make sense?

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Would you mind sharing what you used/use?

 

For PK-K:

Handwriting without Tears

Reading Reflex

Singapore Essential Math

 

For 1st-3rd:

Singapore Math

Sonlight Cores 1-4 (now B, C, D, & E) for History, Literature, & Reading

WTM-style science (I choose a spine and real books to read aloud on our topic. We do a related science project and visit lots of science museums.)

Nallenart French (L'art de Dire for 1st, then L'art de Lire for 2nd grade and up)

Artistic Pursuits

*I haven't used formal spelling or lang.arts for these grades. I used Reading Reflex to make up my own year-long spelling program and then they study the 300 most common words. We also do a combination of journal writing, copywork, and free writing (using the writing process).*

 

For 4th grade & up we are using (or will soon be using):

Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra

MCT Language Arts

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (with lots of additional real science books)

Story of Science

Galore Park French (formerly French Prep, now So You Really Want to Learn French)

Artistic Pursuits

*I'm going to be pulling together my own history/literature. We had been using Sonlight which I've found relatively easy to secularize, but I was really only using it as a schedule. We are needing something secular that has more challenging literature selections, so I'm just going to have to do the planning myself.*

 

Our Missteps:

All those HWT manipulatives (Unless your children have dev.delays or fine motor challenges, you probably don't need anything except the $10 workbook.)

Nature Journals (For us they were like those scavenger hunts you see poor public school kids having to do on field trips. They just got in the way.)

Projects/Science "Experiments"/Crafts/Coloring Books (busywork, busywork, busywork . . . and a waste of money)

Rosetta Stone (I should have listened to the women on this board, but I just wanted to have an easy, computerized foreign language program. I have learned the hard way that there is no easy, cheap way to do foreign language. At least I only bought Level 1.)

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Thanks MinivanMom. We are also using HWOT and I am trying to decide on Math (MEP vs Singapore).

 

I am thinking of doing Adventures in America

 

I am looking for a Science curr also. While I think that all those Let's-Read books are awesome, I would like to get something that has (gives me) things in some kind of order - if that makes sense. I am looking into Magic School Bus monthly kits.

 

And I would love to have something for Art and Music, if I can find something age appropriate.

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For the early grades, we've used:

 

Phonics:

Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (yawn)

Phonics Pathways (hit)

 

Handwriting:

Getty Dubay Italics

 

Math:

(I'm not sold on doing math for K, and don't start until first)

Singapore

MEP (love, love, love this)

 

REAL Science Odyssey

History Odyssey (loosely)

Writing With Ease

 

And tons of read alouds.

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We had been using Sonlight which I've found relatively easy to secularize, but I was really only using it as a schedule.

I found Sonlight easy to use secularly, also. They use mainstream trade children's lit, so really there's nothing particularly "Christian" unless you rely heavily on their teacher's notes in the IG.

Were I starting again from Kindergarten, I'd use Sonlight but mostly because I like early childhood to be literature-based...

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I read a lot! Rainbow Resource is a good place to look for information too.

It can be really really easy to overbuy at first. I told my husband that I had about $2000 of stuff in the RR cart for first grade. He thought that was overkill :) we dropped back quite a bit from that.

 

I was very happy with a Singapore Miquon combo. Miquon didn't make sense to me until I read the Notes to Teachers and First Grade Diary. I think I'd have done even more with Miquon in grade 1 and 2 in retrospect. I've been very happy with Singapore too.

 

I haven't used BFSU, but it's what I would have liked to use for science. Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. There's a yahoo group for it that's great.

 

We read a lot of myths for social studies.

I used Spelling Workout, but my son didn't retain anything. We switched to All About Spelling (AAS) in third grade and it was a much better fit and helped with phonics.

We also used Getty Dubay for handwriting and Artistic Pursuits.

There are homeschool classes in our area and those have been neat...zoo, state museum, art museum, historical society.

 

Lots of read alouds.

 

Welcome!

 

The abbreviation sticky can be very helpful too :)

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Singapore for Maths and Science. I firmly believe it was using Singapore in the elementary level that helped my son develop his amazing math and logic skills.

 

 

I am still deciding between MEP and Singapore - any thoughts on one vs another?

 

Thanks!

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Hi all,

I am at a very beginning stages of HSing and am seeing so many different curriculums and resources for every single subject. So, without buying every single one of them and trying it out - how did you decide what to use?

 

I am looking for completely secular one for K - 1st grade as my son is somewhere in between with his skill level.

 

Would love to hear ideas, suggestions past and present experiences from you all

 

Thanks

 

I must admit that I'm laughing at all the VERY Christian recommendations you got after clearly stating "completely secular."

 

That said... of things I've used for reading... Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading is completely secular, as is 100 EZ Lessons. Learning Language Arts Through Literature (the Blue Kit and the Red Kit) are great and bible-free, but fair warning that LLATL beyond those is bible/scripture heavy.

 

Oak Meadow has a great program, but it progresses at a different pace, entirely, than TWTM would suggest. It is, however, completely secular. Additionally, it has a strong focus on nature study and handi-crafts in the early years, which, depending on your child, may be a great benefit (or a hindrance).

 

There are numerous math programs, most of which are secular. We tried Saxon for K and 1, then tried Singapore. Both are secular, but we came back to Saxon because even though I, personally, don't like it, it is the program that seems to speak to my son and works for him.

 

If you are looking for something along the lines of 'curriculum-in-a-box,' the strongest secular candidates I would recommend are Oak Meadow and Calvert. They are extremely different animals, though. OM is more Waldorf-based and requires a real teacher investment in instructional time and prep time. Calvert is very text-book based, but requires very little prep time and average to minimal teacher instruction time, depending on the grade level.

 

The biggest recommendation I could offer, though, is to observe your child and try to determine his/her learning style. This is mostly a trial and error thing. Once you do find something that is working for the child, stick with it, no matter how shiny and pretty all those other curricula look.

 

My second biggest recommendation is don't buy multiple programs within the same subject. You will ending up wasting a LOT of money on curricula you won't use, or won't like, or which won't work for you. Research your purchases ahead of time and try one thing at a time. Really and truly, there is no reason you should be supplementing every. single. subject. two and three times over.

 

If you want to find out if something is secular or not, it helps to check out who the publisher is. Caveat: a small handful of christian publisher also produce the occasional secular curriculum here and there. If you want a good starter list of secular publishers and curriculum, though, there is a decent list of secular curriculum publishers here: http://www.secularho...ool-curriculum/

 

 

Best wishes! :)

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I mean "secular" in "not a christian" curriculm. At least that's the descriptions I've seen - either Christian or secular.

I will certainly be teaching religions as a subject, but I don't want all other subjects to have a Christian theme - does this make sense?

 

Yes. Sme people differ on what it means for them, so I wanted to make sure. :)

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I found Sonlight easy to use secularly, also. They use mainstream trade children's lit, so really there's nothing particularly "Christian" unless you rely heavily on their teacher's notes in the IG.

Were I starting again from Kindergarten, I'd use Sonlight but mostly because I like early childhood to be literature-based...

 

I actually will disagree. A few of the cores are easy to secularize *some* parts of, but especially with the current cores, it is becoming nearly impossible. Between slavery apologetics, young earth creationism pushed everywhere in the guides, and huge amounts of Christian fiction and missionary stories, it really is not easy. So if you want a secular curriculum, Sonlight would NOT be on my list.

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Well that IS why i said, "unless you rely heavily on their teacher's notes in the IG."

Because that's where you'll find the slavery apologetics, for example...NOT in the actual history text used (History of US in the case I think you're referring to).

Young earth creationism? I can't even guess where this comes from WRT a Core, though I've only used Core 3 to 100, so maybe I'm missing something...I'm astro-physics universe and evolutionary origins, and I've never found anything even remotely in conflict with that in the Cores.

Finally, if you look at a book list for any particular year, you'll find that while there might be a couple of Christian or missionary stories (not hard to exclude if that's your want), there are a couple dozen that are nothing of the sort.

 

 

 

I'm thinking you might be using second-hand information...

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I am still deciding between MEP and Singapore - any thoughts on one vs another?

 

(Reworded a bit from two older posts.)

 

Both are excellent programs that focus on concepts. I find the core Singapore materials to be solid conceptually, but in a clearly defined and fully-laid-out this-is-how-it's-done way; it's teaching is explicit, presenting the concepts to a the child in a methodical way with visual reinforcement. Little is required in the way of imagination or creativity in the core program, and with few exceptions the student won't be asked to solve completely unfamiliar problems. The supplemental Singapore Intensive Practice books are designed to be done post-mastery, and these require some out-of-the box thinking and give the bright kids a chance to stretch.

 

With MEP the student is occasionally expected to at least attempt to think their way through some problems they haven't yet explicitly been given a method of solving. Usually these are "class" problems, and it's perfectly all right to hint and nudge as necessary. MEP does have explicit teaching, but students are expected to struggle a bit on their way to understanding; relationships are presented in a way they can be discovered (though often it's the teacher's job to nudge appropriately) rather than to merely illustrate a principle. The first two years might seem deceptively simple if you glance over the scope and sequence (Y1 works only with numbers to 20), but there's lots of exciting stuff going on underneath.

 

I love MEP. :D

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Well that IS why i said, "unless you rely heavily on their teacher's notes in the IG."

Because that's where you'll find the slavery apologetics, for example...NOT in the actual history text used (History of US in the case I think you're referring to).

Young earth creationism? I can't even guess where this comes from WRT a Core, though I've only used Core 3 to 100, so maybe I'm missing something...I'm astro-physics universe and evolutionary origins, and I've never found anything even remotely in conflict with that in the Cores.

Finally, if you look at a book list for any particular year, you'll find that while there might be a couple of Christian or missionary stories (not hard to exclude if that's your want), there are a couple dozen that are nothing of the sort.

 

 

 

I'm thinking you might be using second-hand information...

 

Thanks, but you can research past posts by me and see that I have used Core A, B, G, 100 (shortly) and I am currently using D and E. If you search any "sonlight secular" results, you will see that I am by far the only one with the opinion that Sonlight can be hard to secularize. I can quote from books or guides if you would like, read this, or you can just search for the hundred or so past threads on this very topic. Secularizing it can be done, but it's not always easy. Some cores are easier than others. B was easiest for me. The rest have made it increasingly difficult and I no longer recommend it as a secular-friendly option. And certainly I wouldn't recommend it when people are asking for SECULAR options. Many people who secularize it believe older used cores are much easier than the newer ones. The people I have seen who find it easiest to secularize were Christians (some who were not necessarily Evangelical or YEC) or using older cores.

 

The discussion questions often refer to things being God's will or focus on the religious aspects in the stories. Even books not marked as "Bible" books have Christian themes. Many are from Christian publishers or take a viewpoint (William Wilberforce, for example) of examining them from a Christian viewpoint and focusing on the impact God made on their decisions. Not a bad thing, but certainly not something most people looking for secular and non-Christian curricula are looking for.

 

The science cores are definitely YEC, and the core guides are very much inundated with it, as well. Everything from talking about the dates for ancient civilizations "obviously" being wrong because the earth is only 6,000 to using Bible stories as history outright without facts or archaeological proof. As far as not using the guides...so just using the book lists? Well, that is different than using Sonlight. But some of those books are tricky and sneak in the missionary or Christian themes. Not to mention some religions such as LDS and Catholics have complaints about the way their religion is addressed, even in the books without the guide, but if we're talking strictly non-Christian as the OP specified, she will have little to enjoy from Sonlight. Some of the books are good, but those can be found on almost any other children's lit list.

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Ah! Well science isn't even *part* of a Core, which would explain why I couldn't understand how that figured in. :)

 

The discussion questions

Again, this is what's in the Instructor's Guide. And I guess if you're heavily reliant on that, you might find yourself limited. Many of us use that type of material extraneously, though, so don't find it hard to skip.

 

 

Though this might go back to philosophy. Some people really lean heavily on the curriculum-provided notes and plans. I've never seen the point in that. (Which is why I made that caveat in my very first statement). Obviously you're one of these people, which is why it's causing so much trouble for you, and that's fine.

But many of us will just use curricula as basic frameworks and won't have trouble making minor adjustments to fit our needs. :)

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Ah! Well science isn't even *part* of a Core, which would explain why I couldn't understand how that figured in. :)

 

 

Again, this is what's in the Instructor's Guide. And I guess if you're heavily reliant on that, you might find yourself limited. Many of us use that type of material extraneously, though, so don't find it hard to skip.

 

 

Though this might go back to philosophy. Some people really lean heavily on the curriculum-provided notes and plans. I've never seen the point in that. (Which is why I made that caveat in my very first statement). Obviously you're one of these people, which is why it's causing so much trouble for you, and that's fine.

But many of us will just use curricula as basic frameworks and won't have trouble making minor adjustments to fit our needs. :)

 

So you spend $70-150 for a guide and don't use it? It doesn't even matter. Sonlight is not secular and not friendly towards non-Evangelical Christians, and therefore not what the OP is asking for.

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Thanks MinivanMom. We are also using HWOT and I am trying to decide on Math (MEP vs Singapore).

 

I am thinking of doing Adventures in America

 

I am looking for a Science curr also. While I think that all those Let's-Read books are awesome, I would like to get something that has (gives me) things in some kind of order - if that makes sense. I am looking into Magic School Bus monthly kits.

 

And I would love to have something for Art and Music, if I can find something age appropriate.

 

Honestly, MEP and Singapore are both good programs. We prefer Singapore, but you won't go wrong either way.

 

Science is pretty easy to narrow down if you know that you want a secular curriculum. There are a limited number of secular choices. Are you wanting something that's more hands-on experiments? Are you looking for a schedule to help you do the real-book thing? Do you want curriculum-curriculum . . . like a textbook? I've never used the Magic School Bus kits, but I assume that they are both secular and hands-on.

 

We've used both Drawing with Children and Artistic Pursuits for art. I love Drawing with Children, but it's more a philosophy than a curriculum. It can be hard to implement. Artistic Pursuits is wonderful, because it's open-and-go and it has art appreciation included. I'm no help with music, though. We do piano lessons and trips to the symphony rather than using any kind of curriculum.

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I am still deciding between MEP and Singapore - any thoughts on one vs another?

Thanks!

(Reworded a bit from two older posts.)

Both are excellent programs that focus on concepts. I find the core Singapore materials to be solid conceptually, but in a clearly defined and fully-laid-out this-is-how-it's-done way; it's teaching is explicit, presenting the concepts to a the child in a methodical way with visual reinforcement. Little is required in the way of imagination or creativity in the core program, and with few exceptions the student won't be asked to solve completely unfamiliar problems. The supplemental Singapore Intensive Practice books are designed to be done post-mastery, and these require some out-of-the box thinking and give the bright kids a chance to stretch.

With MEP the student is occasionally expected to at least attempt to think their way through some problems they haven't yet explicitly been given a method of solving. Usually these are "class" problems, and it's perfectly all right to hint and nudge as necessary. MEP does have explicit teaching, but students are expected to struggle a bit on their way to understanding; relationships are presented in a way they can be discovered (though often it's the teacher's job to nudge appropriately) rather than to merely illustrate a principle. The first two years might seem deceptively simple if you glance over the scope and sequence (Y1 works only with numbers to 20), but there's lots of exciting stuff going on underneath.

I love MEP. :D

 

I think Moira has laid out the comparisons very well. MEP is very special in requiring creative problem solving from the earliest levels in a way that the core PM materials often do not. PM shines in its methodical approach.

 

We used both the first couple of years. Love both. But time factors forced a choice. It was a difficult decision, but I went with PM. I find it easier to throw in creative problem solving exercises (and we also use Beast Academy which is strong in this regard) than to impose "order" on our eclectic math mix. But it was (is) a hard decision, and whenever I find the time I throw selected MEP activities and problems into the mix.

 

If you are able to do so, consider using both. Or at least selected parts of MEP. Having creative problem solving as part of the math mix make the subject much more fun and engaging, not to mention that it helps build a better brain.

 

As for "secular" materials? Start looking now! We afterschool, so I have less burden than homeschoolers in regards to curriculum, but I started years in advance (like you with a child in utero), and wasted/expended untold hours looking into recommended materials (including many in TWTM book) that proved to be religiously based.

 

There are even programs that "pretend" to be "secular" (like Real Science for Kids) that have religious agendas. And what sometimes gets recommended as "secular"," or "can be used secularly" might just blow your mind. Just be aware in advance.

 

When it is time for Language Arts (like 2nd or 3rd Grade) look at MCT (Michael Clay Thompson). ETC (Explode the Code) is a fun and secular phonics program.

 

Good luck.

 

Bill

 

[ETA: Starting out our math adventure early using the hands-on approach of the Miquon Math Lab materials and things like Cuisenaire Rods was the best move I've ever made, as it made the "Math Model" used in programs like Singapore Math fully comprehensible to my son through playful and easily comprehensible means. Miquon takes an involved and invested parent-partner, but if you are that, it is a magical introduction to mathematics.

 

Read Liping Ma.

 

 

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So you spend $70-150 for a guide and don't use it?

Well there is more to an IG than the notes but even they can be valuable, so long as you just pre-read...

Seriously, I just can't imagine finding any curriculum that I would use exactly as written.

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