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List of open and go curriculum for newbies

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34 minutes ago, Ellie said:

See, it would never occur to me to refer to these as "packaged/boxed," especially since each one is a completely different kind of method: unit study, literature-based, Charlotte Mason. To me, that means a box of books from ABeka, or CLASS.

Huh...I have no dog in this fight, but...if it includes everything you need in a box, how can you possibly not think it is "packaged/boxed"? I mean, what does the method have to do with that?

I am not trying to be rude/snarky, I am genuinely wondering. And I am not necessarily asking Ellie, but anyone who feels the same. I have no idea whether the ones mentioned are "packaged/boxed" by any definition, as I haven't looked into them.

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For kindergarten? As long as she doesn't need something actually scripted, I'd consider these "open and go" in the sense that you can just look at and do:

HWOT: Letters and Numbers for Me, one page a day

Singapore Math Kindergarten B (assuming baby has already heard of numbers and can do a little counting), textbook only, 10-20 minutes a day

Phonics Pathways for both phonics and spelling, 15 minutes a day or until baby is tired

Read picture books aloud to student, minimum 3 a day. We liked having an author of the week and reading several by the same person.

science: Get library books from the children's non-fiction section on one topic a week, look at them, and talk. (Plants, animals, magnets, etc.)

social studies: Go places and talk about how they work (post office, library, grocery store, farmers' market, fire station). Ensure that child can recite full name, address, and a phone number.

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I get this a lot.  People come in to the homeschool library and want "5th grade".  If they are faith based I often suggest Master Books.  They are open and go as well as colorful and reasonably priced.  

When newbies come in, especially after leaving public school, for me to suggest just simply reading and math until she learns more about homeschooling ends with blank stares.  I might as well have suggested full blown radical unschooling.  They want a book for each subject that they can use tomorrow.  And they want to cover what every other kid at that age is covering.  Sometimes a mom comes in more informed or with more personal opinion, but just as often they have no idea what is available.

Question:  I cobble things together in our own homeschool, but tend to use faith based materials.  Is there a secular equivalent to Master Books?

I'm writing down the suggestions given so far.  I need to create a booklet that lists all these along with free options for each (besides EP).  A curated list with lots of encouragement for the mom to think of the child in front of them instead of the mythological "average" child.

 

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Rod and Staff. That can be a complete open and go curriculum for all subjects or by subjects, but the non kindergarten can be tricky if you want your kid to be on level with PS in the beginning. 

Memoria Press. They integrate some of the best parts of R&S into their own materials for complete by grade packages. 

 

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5 hours ago, barnwife said:

Huh...I have no dog in this fight, but...if it includes everything you need in a box, how can you possibly not think it is "packaged/boxed"? I mean, what does the method have to do with that?

I am not trying to be rude/snarky, I am genuinely wondering. And I am not necessarily asking Ellie, but anyone who feels the same. I have no idea whether the ones mentioned are "packaged/boxed" by any definition, as I haven't looked into them.

Maybe it's because I've been hsing a long, long time, and back in the day no one ever referred to Sonlight or My Father's World-type materials as "boxed." In fact, we didn't use the word "boxed" at all. I think that's a relatively new term, and it's ambiguous because people apply it to everything. 🙂 We referred to literature-based or u;nit studies; those are descriptive terms; "boxed" means you buy a big box of books just like school.

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On 1/6/2020 at 4:09 PM, Emily ZL said:

Why not just a box? Sonlight, Memoria Press, My Fathers World, that secular one (Oak Meadow something?), or in my Catholic world there's Seton, MODG, CHC, and on and on. Just write a check and get everything you need for a successful year delivered right to your house. I think cobbling together your own program is perfect for a certain type of mom (myself included) but I meet moms constantly who would rather all the thinking and planning be done for them, and they do fine with the box.

 

Amen to a box curriculum. That's exactly what I did with Memoria Press. 
Open the box, check that I have everything on the list, and get to work. 

Over the years, I've learned what works and doesn't work for our family and I make adjustments. But way back when I started,  no way would I have cobbled something together. I didn't have the confidence, time or experience. I think over the years you learn what is ENOUGH, and to be satisfied, instead of looking to add more on. 

 

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31 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Maybe it's because I've been hsing a long, long time, and back in the day no one ever referred to Sonlight or My Father's World-type materials as "boxed." In fact, we didn't use the word "boxed" at all. I think that's a relatively new term, and it's ambiguous because people apply it to everything. 🙂 We referred to literature-based or u;nit studies; those are descriptive terms; "boxed" means you buy a big box of books just like school.

 

You haven't been hs'ing a long, long time; you hs'ed a long, long time ago. Apologies if I have got this history wrong; happy to be corrected. But I thought you hs'ed your children and taught co-op or cottage school a generation ago, and have not homeschooled since. If you currently have students, or especially if you've been teaching homeschooled students the whole time, again, I apologize for misunderstanding your history.

In the interim, I started using Sonlight for some of my children in 2004. It was so thoroughly described as a boxed program - not for all subjects, but for the "cores" (which are now called HBL's), that there was a custom of referring to delivery as "Box Day." 

Definitely, through the years that I used Sonlight, on their forums and on MFW's forums, both programs were frequently labeled "boxed." When they developed their science programs, those were also called boxed, because while it was just one subject you did receive lesson plans, student worksheets, all the books, and the lab kits.

There was another term for 100% of subjects for a single grade level, arriving in one box, such as Calvert (old school) or Timberdoodle (newer), and that term was "All In One."

 

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@Lang Syne Boardie I bought Sonlight when we moved overseas in 1997 bc we wouldn't have access to anything in English. It came in a big box with every subject except math. I'd refer to that as boxed in today's terms. 🙂

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2 hours ago, Ellie said:

Maybe it's because I've been hsing a long, long time, and back in the day no one ever referred to Sonlight or My Father's World-type materials as "boxed." In fact, we didn't use the word "boxed" at all. I think that's a relatively new term, and it's ambiguous because people apply it to everything. 🙂 We referred to literature-based or u;nit studies; those are descriptive terms; "boxed" means you buy a big box of books just like school.


Admittedly I am a new HSer, as our oldest is only 9. So this is fascinating to me. From the beginning of my researching, I've heard "boxed" to mean "everything you need is in the box", whether it's lit-based or unit studies or something else. So "boxed" is a term that could include those, but doesn't have too, or at least that's how I've understood it. 

It never occurred to me until your post that it might be ambiguous. Once more, I learned something on the Hive.

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9 minutes ago, barnwife said:


Admittedly I am a new HSer, as our oldest is only 9. So this is fascinating to me. From the beginning of my researching, I've heard "boxed" to mean "everything you need is in the box", whether it's lit-based or unit studies or something else. So "boxed" is a term that could include those, but doesn't have too, or at least that's how I've understood it. 

It never occurred to me until your post that it might be ambiguous. Once more, I learned something on the Hive.

It's just so easy to clear up what people are asking about, or address what they're really wanting to find out about how to teach their child...no reason for anyone to worry about definitions like this. It's easy to add an explanation like, "You might consider XYZ, it comes with the following," or "You could start with ABC; it's got these elements but you'd need to add another spelling program," or whatever. Ever-changing homeschool terminology is really not the point -- helping each other, and teaching our children well, IS the point. 

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For Kinder all she needs is phonics, handwriting, and math, plus LOADS of books from the library about anything that strikes her fancy. If she needs a book list, FIAR or MP Enrichment guides JrK-2nd.

Phonics: I fail to see how a Kinder age child can be "behind". I would tell her Logic of English. The book tells you exactly what to do. It also includes handwriting so there is your Kinder All-In-One done.

Math: It doesn't get any easier than following a Saxon teacher's manual. Yes, we all know Singapore-based or MEP is better but this momma doesn't sound willing/confident to relearn or put in a lot quite yet.

Edited by Paradox5
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Is the OP just asking about kindergarten?  The only thing we did for K was:

math: Singapore Math (preschool-K)

handwriting: HWOT

Spanish: some CDs that had spanish songs for kids.  

And then lots of read alouds and going places and playdates and games and creative free play and arts/crafts.

Gradually as elementary school went on, I added in more subjects, but a lot of the time we were only doing 10-30 minutes of any particular subject per day.  

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12 minutes ago, daijobu said:

Is the OP just asking about kindergarten?  The only thing we did for K was:

math: Singapore Math (preschool-K)

handwriting: HWOT

Spanish: some CDs that had spanish songs for kids.  

And then lots of read alouds and going places and playdates and games and creative free play and arts/crafts.

Gradually as elementary school went on, I added in more subjects, but a lot of the time we were only doing 10-30 minutes of any particular subject per day.  

Not just K. That’s what grade the person I was helping needed but I thought it would be good to create a big open and go list for all grades to link back here to. 

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This is an interesting conversation. Even though it's just a bunch of lists lol. I like a list!!

 

The Barefoot Ragamuffin curricula resonates with me big time. Several years ago, it was what taught me how to use narration and dictation in my homeschool.  My first read, if you can believe it, upon deciding to look into homeschooling when my oldest was 1 or 2, was the six volumes of Charlotte Mason. LOL this is why I laugh at these new homeschoolers who can't even read TWTM or The Core or whatever. Anyway, once I found myself with a school aged child*, I didn't actually know what to do, 

I ordered the original volume of ELTL, read it, discarded it, and then knew what to do. 

I wish everyone could live near a homeschool store. I did briefly, in the middle of where I started and where I am now, and it was amazing. 

Anyway, yeah. Just like, whatever. Literally start with anything. Recognize that you have a brain in your head and will meet whatever pops up. then do that. 

I love (love!) all the new posters around here lately, but even them I am thinking, oh yeah, you need to get some experience under your belt and then you're going to be AMAZING!! Homeschooling is just kind of its own thing. You just have to do it, using whatever gets you going., And then you either figure it out or put your kids in school. 

*he was not "school aged." He was a gifted 4 year old. Thinking he was school-aged, and proceeding accordingly, is my biggest homeschool regret and one of my biggest lifr regrets. Top ten anyway. It worked out OK-- he's more amazing than I (or anyone else) deserve. But still. I did a bad thing there. 4, 5, 6, 7 year olds deserve to be treated like little bitty kids. They are so young. They are so precious. And there is time enough for everything else. Alas! 

ELTL and her handwriting was all I ever read/used from Barefoot Ragamuffin, but Hunter at one point read through and had good things to say. I'd trust her with my life, so. +1 recommendation for Barefoot Ragamuffin for newbs!

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4 hours ago, barnwife said:


Admittedly I am a new HSer, as our oldest is only 9. So this is fascinating to me. From the beginning of my researching, I've heard "boxed" to mean "everything you need is in the box", whether it's lit-based or unit studies or something else. So "boxed" is a term that could include those, but doesn't have too, or at least that's how I've understood it. 

It never occurred to me until your post that it might be ambiguous. Once more, I learned something on the Hive.

See, it helps to be more specific. Someone who wants literature-based would not want a unit study, but if you refer to both of them as "boxed," then you're not really helping that person. And how could "boxed" also mean Easy Grammar? I've seen people include that in "boxed."

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One of the things that nice about some of the lit oriented boxes- MFW, Sonlight and maybe others- is that they are geared toward an age/grade range- not a specific grade. Well, the LA and Math are specific of course, but everything else is not so "This is 5th grade everything" as other programs are. It gives some room for newbies that I have come to appreciate long after I was one because as we know no one is at the same level on everything. 

 I would just mention to them (the new to homeschoolers for your list)  to shoot toward the older end and not the younger end. In other words, if it specifies ages 8-11, gear more toward that 9/10+ range. I've used a lot of SL and I think especially in the younger Cores, many of their books are too advanced for the ages on the younger end and would better be appreciated a little later. 

I feel like in order to give the appearance of "rigor" when Early=Better, many homeschool publishers have shoved things down the ladder a bit to simply look more "advanced". Just my two cents. 

I don't know if this is out of the bounds of what you are looking for, but you might throw in Honey for a Child's Heart and The Read Aloud Handbook for people who want to pick their own lit and use with just a math and LA materials while they adjust and research more about programs. 

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I don't think I saw CLE mentioned yet.  (Christian Light Education).  I particularly like how it has allowed us to be consistent with math, no matter what other struggles or disruptions might be going on.  I wouldn't recommend it for more than 1 or 2 subjects just because it could get long and tedious.  

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Oh yeah Cottage Press is another one people can do for a beat and learn from it how to use the CM ideas for elementary aged kids with any material. Plus, it's lovely, and sometimes I think it's important to give people an early taste of that, to set the bar above the bottom. 

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As for boxed curriculum, around here it has always meant the programs that have a student go in lock step for each subject for a certain grade.  They do not allow for variability in capability in different subjects. For my kids, lock step would never have worked.  My older's math was 6 years advanced by the time he was in 8th grade.  My younger physical writing/spelling/mechanics/grammar was at a 1st grade level when he was in 7th grade. Clearly my kids are pretty unusual, but the gift of homeschool is to ADAPT to the kid you have.  Boxed curriculum replicate school at home by working in lock step with all subjects at one grade level. People may not care about engagement and just want to get school done, but kids are more engaged with content/skills appropriate to their level, be it advanced or behind. In addition, students learn more efficiently if work is at an appropriate level, so school can take less time. 

 

 

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I recently discovered ABeCeDarian for reading, I don’t know if it is technically phonics but it is open and go and I didn’t see it mentioned above.

I found WTM to be already planned out for me. The current edition has checklists by grade saying how much time to spend on each subject and even has a curriculum planning worksheet that lists SWB’s recommended curricula choices right there. They are in the Epilogue for each of the stages, so if a new homeschooler isn’t a reader, those sections may need to be pointed out.

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24 minutes ago, Rachel said:

I recently discovered ABeCeDarian for reading, I don’t know if it is technically phonics but it is open and go and I didn’t see it mentioned above.

Personally, I'd put an asterisk by ABeCeDarian.  It's open and go .... once you've gotten started.  IMO, the learning curve is too steep for my definition of open-n-go. It's going to take some time for the parent to read the introductory pages, to figure out the method of error correcting, to learn the terminology, etc.  If someone isn't wanting to research and learn before jumping in to teaching, then I wouldn't suggest ABeCeDarian.    Phonics Pathways & OPGTR would be more open-n-go from the "get go."  I guess it depends on when one wants to "go". 😄

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Wow. That’s a lot to put on the list. I might have to prune it so I don’t overwhelm the already overwhelmed. 😉 

I was considering posting the link to my previous advice for newbies letter as a gentle intro.
What do you think? 
 

 

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This is why I always try to get people to read TWTM even though I've never followed it myself. It is at our local library, unlike most homeschool or education books. Open up to your year and do the things. Go from there. It's just such a simple, but well-done, way to get going.

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1 hour ago, Plum said:

Wow. That’s a lot to put on the list. I might have to prune it so I don’t overwhelm the already overwhelmed. 😉 

I was considering posting the link to my previous advice for newbies letter as a gentle intro.
What do you think? 

 

On the one hand, I was going to say we might be a little bit of overwhelm for the newly/non-initiated, but then on the other hand, from what you are saying people are talking about on FaceBook and the crappy advice people are giving, you might as well give it a shot. It's one of those deals where you wish you could tell people "now I'm going to show you something, but don't get overwhelmed!!" but then we've all been there at some point and lived to tell the tale, so I say go for it. 🙂 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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Well here it is. My newbie info guide and list of open and go curriculum. I've been at it off and on since 5 am. My eyes are tired and I'm not completely done. I had to reformat all of the bullet points after copying it over. Feel free to critique, even butcher it. I want it to be a collaborative effort. I kind of want to keep only the Free - $25 section, but I'm flexible. I'm sure there's more I could add to that. I'm also not sold on the boxed curriculum. I don't want them to have to buy anything other than the box to avoid confusion. 

 

Whether you’ve just pulled your child out of school or have been preparing to homeschool since they were babies, taking the first step toward homeschooling can be overwhelming. It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous about this. You are not alone! We’ve all at some point been pretty much where you are. Panicked and overwhelmed. Not to worry, the Hive Mind here at the Well-Trained Mind Forums have put together this letter and link fest to get you started on your path to homeschooling. So grab some coffee and your favorite snack and get ready to begin your adventures in homeschooling!

The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Edition and Website

The book provides step-by-step instruction to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school. Susan Wise Bauer lays out the plan for you and recommends curriculum to put that plan to action.

The website gives you everything you need to get started on your homeschool journey. It includes articles, explanation videos, audio lectures, planning worksheets and anything else you might need to start this journey. If you can’t find it there, then you are already in the right spot to ask your question. The forum has some extremely knowledgeable veteran homeschoolers, who have been there, done that.

Seriously, you could stop right here and click on those two links and you’ll find all of the information you need.

 

Step One – What are your state’s homeschool laws?

Every state’s laws are different. Some states have little to no regulation and some are a little more high maintenance. Getting to know your state’s homeschool laws will help you understand what is expected of you as the homeschool parent and may determine how you want to proceed with homeschooling.

Where to find rules and regulations

What you’ll need to know to legally begin homeschooling:

  • When your child reaches compulsory age, the age where school is required. You will not need to fill out any forms before that age.
  • How to withdraw your child from school and your rights as a parent that wishes to homeschool.
  • What forms (if any) are required to send to my State Department of Education to legally begin homeschooling. How to deliver them (certified or hand-delivered) and what proof they will provide that you are legally homeschooling.
  • If there is time limit from withdrawing my child and sending in the forms.
  • If there are any subject requirements or any sequence that needs to be followed, such as state history in 4th grade.
  • What records (if any) will need to be kept; such as attendance, samples of work, grades, portfolios.

 

Step Two – How do you see yourself homeschooling?

  • Why are you considering homeschooling?
  • Is this something that you plan to do long term or as a temporary emergency situation?
  • What do you want for your child as a result of homeschooling?
  • What are your goals?  
  • What is your educational philosophy?
  • Does your child have any special needs for learning? Learning disabilities? Advanced/gifted? Mental health? Physical health?
  • What method would work for both you and your kids?  Reading lots of books together and discussing? Open and go, no prep? Video lessons? Scripted lessons that tell you exactly what to say? Multiple ages? Together or independent?
  • What questions do you have? What worries you?
  • What is your Worldview?
    • In homeschooling, some parents want materials that reflect their faith. Many of the resources you'll encounter are Christian, written specifically for Christian families. Christian homeschool curricula and resources reflect a range of different Christian views about science, literature, religion, and more. You should ask yourself if you want Christian or secular resources or if you might be comfortable with either. If you're concerned about issues of faith in your materials, you can research or ask others what viewpoints they represent. Resources listed below are marked with an *. 
    • Neutral Science is science that isn't completely straightforward in it's religious views. Often, it is the result of religious authors secularizing their work to open up to a wider audience. The key topics of concern are The Big Bang and Evolution. They may omit the topics altogether, misrepresent or downplay them as theories. It's important to know what the worldview of the author is in order to ensure it's a match to your own. If you would like a quick summary of what to look for in a secular science curriculum, Pandia Press Presents: Why Neutral Science Isn't Neutral, which the podcast goes more in depthThe Homeschool Resource Roadmap lists all science and every other subject and categorizes it by worldview. 
    • With history it has to do with whether the stories of a certain religion are handled as historical fact, while others are handled as myths. A secular history program would discuss religion since it is a major part of history at many points, but would avoid ascribing fact status to any religion's stories.

Determining your homeschool philosophy

It’s perfectly normal to have no idea yet. This is a process. You may find yourself revisiting this idea over the years as your kids get older and you have more experience under your belt. This hard work will help you solidify your homeschooling vision and get the results you want to see for your family, but it takes time.

But how will I know what to teach and when to teach it?

 

No Time for Step Two? – You just withdrew your kid from school and need to get something started right now!

In most emergency cases, the best thing to do is take a break. I know that may seem counter-intuitive if your child is “behind”, generally speaking taking a break to fall in love with learning again is just what the student needs.

This article is interesting because it documents the deschooling process without even realizing. He's initially anxious and stressed about all of the free time he suddenly has. That is a result of being over-regulated his entire life. It makes him feel pressured to squeeze in as much learning in as in as little time possible. Over the weeks, he realizes learning is happening in all sorts of ways and he's so much more relaxed by the end.

Deschooling can be a bunch of books laying around they might like to read, watching science documentaries, narrowing the focus to one thing they really like and playing that up or finally getting to the one thing they always wanted to do, but never had the time or opportunity to do, for example learning to bake. Let them get bored, then give them plenty of options to find their way out of that boredom by keeping interesting books around, playing board games, creative play, and so on. It gives you time to spend with them and gives them time to learn how to be a kid again.

The school mentality is really hard to shake. It takes time to reset.

 

Open and Go Curriculum options to tide you over until you figure something out

I’ve linked directly to the publishers to help give you a better understanding of the curriculum. You can find many of these at Rainbow Resource to get free shipping if your order is over $50 or Amazon. *non-secular

Free - $25

  • The library – your library can become your refuge, your librarian can become your greatest resource. Check you library’s website for free resources.
  • My library offers all of this for free with a library card:
    • ABC Mouse, IXL, Rosetta Stone, Lynda, Great Courses, Muzzy, High School Courses, High School and College Admission Test Prep, Creative Bug (great for electives and extra-curriculars), literacy tutors, biography and cultural studies, Hoopla(digital downloads and streaming), Kanopy and Kanopy Kids (doc and video streaming), the local newspaper, The LA Times, The NY Times, National Geographic Kids, Overdrive (audiobooks), science reference center, World Book, and so much more.
  • Copywork, narration, dictation– Choose sentences from books you are reading and have them copy them. Ask them to summarize the chapter that was just read. Dictate the copied sentences and summarizations to them and have them write it out with correct capitalization and punctuation. Works with all subjects. Teaches grammar, punctuation, spelling, memory-work, reading comprehension, and writing.
  • Best to stick with the 3 R’s to start.
  • Check with Rainbow Resource, Homeschool Buyers Co-op for group pricing, used on Amazon
  • If you have more than one child that might be using the same curriculum, look for PDFs and invest in a Black and White duplex laser printer. Also, Ebooks make it easier for everyone to read along.

Language Arts

  • English Lessons Through Literature by Barefoot Ragamuffin
    • English Lessons Through Literature (ELTL) is a complete language arts program for elementary and middle school students. Each level has a textbook and an optional workbook which can be purchased separately. ELTL is a unique program which combines the gentleness of Charlotte Mason's methods with the thoroughness of classical methods. Each level of this program has three lessons per week for thirty-six weeks for a total of 108 lessons per year.
  • Cottage Press Language Lessons for Children - Absolutely lovely Charlotte Mason style early elementary 
    • includes reading selections (included or free public domain downloadable or library), copywork, picture study, nature study, narration, and dictation. 
  • Core Knowledge Curriculum - Free downloadable for grades pre-K-8
    • Content-rich Language Arts, Science, History and Geography.  

Phonics

Writing

Grammar

Spelling

Math

History

  • Story of the World grades 1-6*
    • can be done with multiple ages and levels
    • Many secularize this series  because of it's beloved storytelling style of history.
    • can be done with just the books or can add more
    • activity book includes questions, recommended reading, map and coloring work, projects
    • Amazon has many used books
  • Big History Project - Free, online grades 7-12
    • Writing integrated into work
    • Covers multiple disciplines of science
    • World History
    • Highly adjustable by grade, content, length - Khan Academy, DK books have their own versions

Science

 

Shopping for Curriculum

Rainbow Resource

  • Sells just about everything your homeschool needs and usually at a little bit of a discount. 

Cathy Duffy

  • Her website and book are extremely helpful when curriculum shopping. She provides a thorough review, with descriptions of strengths and weaknesses, the method/style and links to where to purchase it. Basically, Yelp for homeschoolers. 

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op

  • Permanent and limited time discounts on homeschool curriculum

The Homeschool Resource Roadmap

  • This is the ultimate list of homeschool curriculum by subject, method, and worldview. 

 

All-in-One/Boxed Curriculum

Buying the whole year at once can be a frightening and expense proposition. They can be overkill at times. At the same time, a cohesively planned boxed kit, where everything is already done for you, is a good way to sort through works and what doesn’t.

All-in-One Language Arts (Literature, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Spelling)

Phonics

Spelling

Writing

Grammar

Math - *most math is open and go

History

  • Beautiful Feet Books – grades 1-12
    • Literature-based history, requires purchasing or borrowing from the library

Science

Well-Trained Mind Forum Links

You can often find the best threads pinned at the top of the forum.

Inspiration and Motivation

Edited by Plum
Added CoreKnowledge, TGATB, worldview, HSBC, Resource Roadmap, Cottage Press, RR boxed curriculum, mystery science, secularizing SOTW, Math Facts that stick,
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Plum, that's super nice and useful. I really think we need people to do these types of things and it's so good of you to compile that. There's a ton of good basics in there.

I do cringe a bit... because I think one of the key things that most people need to know off the bat is if a resource is Christian or secular. I feel an enormous annoyance when people aren't upfront about that. Your list is great... but mixes them all up together. Maybe there's a way to either star the ones that are secular or vice versa? For newbies... I think some Christians get into homeschooling assuming that it's a "Christian thing" and that the resources that people will point them toward will be faith-based (though I see this a lot less than I used to). And I think some secular types get into it have no concept that they might purchase a math program filled with Bible verses. A true newbie message, IMHO, would just say something about that landscape and ask parents to ask themselves if they're looking for explicitly secular or Christian materials or if they're potentially comfortable with either.

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2 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Plum, that's super nice and useful. I really think we need people to do these types of things and it's so good of you to compile that. There's a ton of good basics in there.

I do cringe a bit... because I think one of the key things that most people need to know off the bat is if a resource is Christian or secular. I feel an enormous annoyance when people aren't upfront about that. Your list is great... but mixes them all up together. Maybe there's a way to either star the ones that are secular or vice versa? For newbies... I think some Christians get into homeschooling assuming that it's a "Christian thing" and that the resources that people will point them toward will be faith-based (though I see this a lot less than I used to). And I think some secular types get into it have no concept that they might purchase a math program filled with Bible verses. A true newbie message, IMHO, would just say something about that landscape and ask parents to ask themselves if they're looking for explicitly secular or Christian materials or if they're potentially comfortable with either.

 

That is a REALLY excellent point. People usually don't even bother to mention whether a curriculum is secular, I find. And most of them are so far from secular that it'd be hard to excise the religious parts... 

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

 

That is a REALLY excellent point. People usually don't even bother to mention whether a curriculum is secular, I find. And most of them are so far from secular that it'd be hard to excise the religious parts... 

So many times I've seen some total newbie ask "What can we use for this?" on one of the localish groups I follow and they get at least half a dozen people giving a Christian program. And I'll say, "Well, here's another option or two. Just so you know, all of the programs above are Christian, which may or may not suit you." Sometimes no response. But sometimes the person responds to me and says something along the lines of, "Eek! I had no idea. We definitely don't want a Christian program." So then Rod and Staff or My Father's World are clearly terrible suggestions for that person.

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23 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Plum, that's super nice and useful. I really think we need people to do these types of things and it's so good of you to compile that. There's a ton of good basics in there.

I do cringe a bit... because I think one of the key things that most people need to know off the bat is if a resource is Christian or secular. I feel an enormous annoyance when people aren't upfront about that. Your list is great... but mixes them all up together. Maybe there's a way to either star the ones that are secular or vice versa? For newbies... I think some Christians get into homeschooling assuming that it's a "Christian thing" and that the resources that people will point them toward will be faith-based (though I see this a lot less than I used to). And I think some secular types get into it have no concept that they might purchase a math program filled with Bible verses. A true newbie message, IMHO, would just say something about that landscape and ask parents to ask themselves if they're looking for explicitly secular or Christian materials or if they're potentially comfortable with either.

I was thinking the same thing since I only use secular. I'll add that in.

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There's also the separate issue where some but not all Christian science materials take a Young Earth Creation stance; I find this particularly concerning as most people I know who identify as Christians do not, at least prior to encountering such materials, hold explicitly YEC views but I've seen some drawn into that box specifically because the homeschool materials they bought for their children espoused it as the only legitimately Christian approach to science.

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I want to put The Lively Art of Writing book in there, but it is so dang small. I don't normally wear glasses, but I need magnifiers to read it. 

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1 hour ago, maize said:

There's also the separate issue where some but not all Christian science materials take a Young Earth Creation stance; I find this particularly concerning as most people I know who identify as Christians do not, at least prior to encountering such materials, hold explicitly YEC views but I've seen some drawn into that box specifically because the homeschool materials they bought for their children espoused it as the only legitimately Christian approach to science.

Yeah. It's a complex issue. But maybe a statement under the philosophy questions? Something like...

In homeschooling, some parents want materials that reflect their faith. Many of the resources you'll encounter are Christian, written specifically for Christian families. Christian homeschool curricula and resources reflect a range of different Christian views about science, literature, religion, and more. You should ask yourself if you want Christian or secular resources or if you might be comfortable with either. If you're concerned about issues of faith in your materials, you can research or ask others what viewpoints they represent. Resources listed below are marked (explain however you mark them).

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I find myself trying to explain to newbies (and sometimes not so newbies) in a nice way that "Christian" has a whole different connotation when it comes to homeschooling.   I live in an area with a lot of Catholics, United Methodists and other more "liberal" Christian denominations, and most "Christian" homeschool materials would not be appropriate for them.  Obviously it's more of a concern with science (young earth, no evolution) and history, since most of them wouldn't be concerned with bible verses in math.  

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We can't explain every little detail about curriculum and even homeschooling to them, though.  They have to research things themselves.  We all somehow figured it out.  And, wow, you really put a lot of work into your list!!

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14 hours ago, Plum said:

Well here it is. My newbie info guide and list of open and go curriculum. I've been at it off and on since 5 am. My eyes are tired and I'm not completely done. I had to reformat all of the bullet points after copying it over. Feel free to critique, even butcher it. I want it to be a collaborative effort. I kind of want to keep only the Free - $25 section, but I'm flexible. I'm sure there's more I could add to that. I'm also not sold on the boxed curriculum. I don't want them to have to buy anything other than the box to avoid confusion. 

 

Whether you’ve just pulled your child out of school or have been preparing to homeschool since they were babies, taking the first step toward homeschooling can be overwhelming. It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous about this. You are not alone! We’ve all at some point been pretty much where you are. Panicked and overwhelmed. Not to worry, the Hive Mind here at the Well-Trained Mind Forums have put together this letter and link fest to get you started on your path to homeschooling. So grab some coffee and your favorite snack and get ready to begin your adventures in homeschooling!

The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Edition and Website

The book provides step-by-step instruction to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school. Susan Wise Bauer lays out the plan for you and recommends curriculum to put that plan to action.

The website gives you everything you need to get started on your homeschool journey. It includes articles, explanation videos, audio lectures, planning worksheets and anything else you might need to start this journey. If you can’t find it there, then you are already in the right spot to ask your question. The forum has some extremely knowledgeable veteran homeschoolers, who have been there, done that.

Seriously, you could stop right here and click on those two links and you’ll find all of the information you need.

 

Step One – What are your state’s homeschool laws?

Every state’s laws are different. Some states have little to no regulation and some are a little more high maintenance. Getting to know your state’s homeschool laws will help you understand what is expected of you as the homeschool parent and may determine how you want to proceed with homeschooling.

Where to find rules and regulations

What you’ll need to know to legally begin homeschooling:

  • When your child reaches compulsory age, the age where school is required. You will not need to fill out any forms before that age.
  • How to withdraw your child from school and your rights as a parent that wishes to homeschool.
  • What forms (if any) are required to send to my State Department of Education to legally begin homeschooling. How to deliver them (certified or hand-delivered) and what proof they will provide that you are legally homeschooling.
  • If there is time limit from withdrawing my child and sending in the forms.
  • If there are any subject requirements or any sequence that needs to be followed, such as state history in 4th grade.
  • What records (if any) will need to be kept; such as attendance, samples of work, grades, portfolios.

 

Step Two – How do you see yourself homeschooling?

  • Why are you considering homeschooling?
  • Is this something that you plan to do long term or as a temporary emergency situation?
  • What do you want for your child as a result of homeschooling?
  • What are your goals?  
  • What is your educational philosophy?
  • Does your child have any special needs for learning? Learning disabilities? Advanced/gifted? Mental health? Physical health?
  • What method would work for both you and your kids?  Reading lots of books together and discussing? Open and go, no prep? Video lessons? Scripted lessons that tell you exactly what to say? Multiple ages? Together or independent?
  • What questions do you have? What worries you?

Determining your homeschool philosophy

It’s perfectly normal to have no idea yet. This is a process. You may find yourself revisiting this idea over the years as your kids get older and you have more experience under your belt. This hard work will help you solidify your homeschooling vision and get the results you want to see for your family, but it takes time.

 

No Time for Step Two? – You just withdrew your kid from school and need to get something started right now!

In most emergency cases, the best thing to do is take a break. I know that may seem counter-intuitive if your child is “behind”, generally speaking taking a break to fall in love with learning again is just what the student needs.

This article is interesting because it documents the deschooling process without even realizing. He's initially anxious and stressed about all of the free time he suddenly has. That is a result of being over-regulated his entire life. It makes him feel pressured to squeeze in as much learning in as in as little time possible. Over the weeks, he realizes learning is happening in all sorts of ways and he's so much more relaxed by the end.

Deschooling can be a bunch of books laying around they might like to read, watching science documentaries, narrowing the focus to one thing they really like and playing that up or finally getting to the one thing they always wanted to do, but never had the time or opportunity to do, for example learning to bake. Let them get bored, then give them plenty of options to find their way out of that boredom by keeping interesting books around, playing board games, creative play, and so on. It gives you time to spend with them and gives them time to learn how to be a kid again.

The school mentality is really hard to shake. It takes time to reset.

 

Open and Go Curriculum options to tide you over until you figure something out

I’ve linked directly to the publishers to help give you a better understanding of the curriculum. You can find many of these at Rainbow Resource to get free shipping if your order is over $50 or Amazon. *non-secular

Free - $25

  • The library – your library can become your refuge, your librarian can become your greatest resource. Check you library’s website for free resources.
  • My library offers all of this for free with a library card:
    • ABC Mouse, IXL, Rosetta Stone, Lynda, Great Courses, Muzzy, High School Courses, High School and College Admission Test Prep, Creative Bug (great for electives and extra-curriculars), literacy tutors, biography and cultural studies, Hoopla(digital downloads and streaming), Kanopy and Kanopy Kids (doc and video streaming), the local newspaper, The LA Times, The NY Times, National Geographic Kids, Overdrive (audiobooks), science reference center, World Book, and so much more.
  • Copywork, narration, dictation– Choose sentences from books you are reading and have them copy them. Ask them to summarize the chapter that was just read. Dictate the copied sentences and summarizations to them and have them write it out with correct capitalization and punctuation. Works with all subjects. Teaches grammar, punctuation, spelling, memory-work, reading comprehension, and writing.
  • Best to stick with the 3 R’s to start.
  • Check with Rainbow Resource, Homeschool Buyers Co-op for group pricing, used on Amazon
  • If you have more than one child that might be using the same curriculum, look for PDFs and invest in a Black and White duplex laser printer. Also, Ebooks make it easier for everyone to read along.

Language Arts

  • English Lessons Through Literature by Barefoot Ragamuffin
    • English Lessons Through Literature (ELTL) is a complete language arts program for elementary and middle school students. Each level has a textbook and an optional workbook which can be purchased separately. ELTL is a unique program which combines the gentleness of Charlotte Mason's methods with the thoroughness of classical methods. Each level of this program has three lessons per week for thirty-six weeks for a total of 108 lessons per year.
  • Check Amazon for used books

Phonics

Writing

Grammar

Spelling

Math

History

  • Story of the World grades 1-6
    • can be done with multiple ages and levels
    • can be done with just the books or can add more
    • activity book includes questions, recommended reading, map and coloring work, projects
    • Amazon has many used books

Science

 

Shopping for Curriculum

Rainbow Resource

  • Sells just about everything your homeschool needs and usually at a little bit of a discount.

Cathy Duffy  

  • Her website and book are extremely helpful when curriculum shopping. She provides a thorough review, with descriptions of strengths and weaknesses, the method/style and links to where to purchase it. Basically, Yelp for homeschoolers.

 

All-in-One/Boxed Curriculum

Buying the whole year at once can be a frightening and expense proposition. They can be overkill at times. At the same time, a cohesively planned boxed kit, where everything is already done for you, is a good way to sort through works and what doesn’t.

All-in-One Language Arts (Literature, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Spelling)

Phonics

Spelling

Writing

Grammar

Math - *most math is open and go

History

  • Beautiful Feet Books – grades 1-12
    • Literature-based history, requires purchasing or borrowing from the library

Science

Well-Trained Mind Forum Links

You can often find the best threads pinned at the top of the forum.

Inspiration and Motivation

Impressive work!

I think "non-secular" is a good way to designate materials with religious content; people can then investigate further to see if those materials are a good fit for their family or not.

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28 minutes ago, Where's Toto? said:

I find myself trying to explain to newbies (and sometimes not so newbies) in a nice way that "Christian" has a whole different connotation when it comes to homeschooling.   I live in an area with a lot of Catholics, United Methodists and other more "liberal" Christian denominations, and most "Christian" homeschool materials would not be appropriate for them.  Obviously it's more of a concern with science (young earth, no evolution) and history, since most of them wouldn't be concerned with bible verses in math.  

Yes, it's easy to think "I'm Christian, Christian materials sound good" without realizing that in homeschool curriculum Christian doesn't necessarily mean "embracing common, generic Christian beliefs."

I think Plum's solution of designating materials as "non-secular" if they contain religious content is a good option, it gets the primary point across for people who only want secular materials and is broad though that I think people who are interested in religious materials are more likely to cue into the need to investigate specifically whether any religious views presented are sufficiently in line with their own (or, if not in line, easy or difficult to work around).

I found it interesting that Rainbow Resource chose Saxon math for their "Christian" packages but not their "secular" packages--any religious content in Saxon is minimal.

 

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I want to add more to the $25 or less. I think I need to prune more of the expensive options  I want this to be a list for mostly panicked parents that just pulled their kid out and want something quality quick. 

I’d like to add more science and history options. I’m thinking Holt Science and Technology maybe Sciencefusion worktexts. Books that are interest based that can just be read or done and are quality options that have loads of cheap used books available. DK. Any suggestions along those lines?

I’m not sold on All About Learning. I know it’s quality scripted, but there are a lot of pieces to it and it’s not exactly inexpensive. In that same line of thinking, I’m not sure about MEP and the free printable types because that requires a lot of looking through it, printing it out, keeping track of the papers. I’m afraid it’s a little too DIY for newbies. 

I’d also like some recommendations for WTM posts...since we got them here, we might as well give them some helpful threads that maybe aren’t too overwhelming. 

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2 hours ago, Evanthe said:

We can't explain every little detail about curriculum and even homeschooling to them, though.  They have to research things themselves.  We all somehow figured it out.  And, wow, you really put a lot of work into your list!!

Sure, but just a mark there and a sentence or two about how it's a "thing" in the homeschool world. It really does shock some mainstream and secular families who find their way to homeschooling for totally non-religious reasons. And as someone who is interested in secular materials, I can say that many Christian sellers are not upfront about their perspective. Many are too, but really, not all of them. And not usually to trick anyone... they're small businesses operating in a small marketplace who assume that their potential customers already sort of know what's up because a decade ago, everyone did. It's changed. I've known a lot of Christian families who are Episcopalian or Catholic or Methodist or whatever who thinking, oh, I won't mind having a bit of religious perspective in my materials. That's a nice little bonus. And then they get the materials that are splashed with young earth or anti-Catholic stuff and they're shocked too because they didn't realize the extent to which it would be like that. Again, for total newbies, just a sentence or two saying, this is something you might want to research in the first place. You don't know what questions to ask until someone tells you sometimes.

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There are secular FB groups that have curriculum that shall not be named and your comment will be removed if you do. Everything must purely secular. SotW and Elemental Science are on that list.
I expect religion to be addressed when reading ancient history books. I want my kids to be exposed to different viewpoints. I don’t see how these are non-secular. Perhaps I’m ignorant in those matters because I’m not militant about it. I looked up the FAQ in elemental science before recommending it and saw it said secular, science only but the author is Christian. I have no idea what their problem is with it. It would have been nice to know. 
There’s obvious religious curriculum that is easy to avoid if you are so inclined. Then there’s more nuanced perspectives from the author that I gather makes it not as secular as it appears. Differences between secular and religious curriculum is not as cut and dry as I once thought. I agree it is a problem to start a curriculum and find something in there you weren’t expecting. 

It is something that needs to be addressed. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable enough with the topic to draw the line myself. It’s something I can work on. 

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2 minutes ago, Plum said:

There are secular FB groups that have curriculum that shall not be named and your comment will be removed if you do. Everything must purely secular. SotW and Elemental Science are on that list.
I expect religion to be addressed when reading ancient history books. I want my kids to be exposed to different viewpoints. I don’t see how these are non-secular. Perhaps I’m ignorant in those matters because I’m not militant about it. I looked up the FAQ in elemental science before recommending it and saw it said secular, science only but the author is Christian. I have no idea what their problem is with it. It would have been nice to know. 
There’s obvious religious curriculum that is easy to avoid if you are so inclined. Then there’s more nuanced perspectives from the author that I gather makes it not as secular as it appears. Differences between secular and religious curriculum is not as cut and dry as I once thought. I agree it is a problem to start a curriculum and find something in there you weren’t expecting. 

It is something that needs to be addressed. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable enough with the topic to draw the line myself. It’s something I can work on. 

 

Perhaps the useful thing would be a spreadsheet that tells you about a few things people might wonder about. For example, does it contain Bible verses? Is it Young Earth Creationist? There are probably lots of other possible parameters. 

Personally, I wouldn't even use a curriculum with Bible verses, since I'm nowhere near Christian. But I imagine there are people who don't mind Bible verses who wouldn't be OK with YEC. 

Edited by square_25
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12 minutes ago, Expat_Mama_Shelli said:

Saw a newbie post on FB today much like the one that inspired this thread & used a number of your bullet points to help guide her. She found the information very useful! 🙂

Good to hear! 

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42 minutes ago, Plum said:

There are secular FB groups that have curriculum that shall not be named and your comment will be removed if you do. Everything must purely secular. SotW and Elemental Science are on that list.
I expect religion to be addressed when reading ancient history books. I want my kids to be exposed to different viewpoints. I don’t see how these are non-secular. Perhaps I’m ignorant in those matters because I’m not militant about it. I looked up the FAQ in elemental science before recommending it and saw it said secular, science only but the author is Christian. I have no idea what their problem is with it. It would have been nice to know. 
There’s obvious religious curriculum that is easy to avoid if you are so inclined. Then there’s more nuanced perspectives from the author that I gather makes it not as secular as it appears. Differences between secular and religious curriculum is not as cut and dry as I once thought. I agree it is a problem to start a curriculum and find something in there you weren’t expecting. 

It is something that needs to be addressed. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable enough with the topic to draw the line myself. It’s something I can work on. 

I haven't used Elemental Science specifically but it may fall into the category of science curricula that try to be neutral--secular but without anything that would be unacceptable to YEC believers so they leave out things like teaching evolution or mention of millions and billions of years.

 

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6 minutes ago, maize said:

I haven't used Elemental Science specifically but it may fall into the category of science curricula that try to be neutral--secular but without anything that would be unacceptable to YEC believers so they leave out things like teaching evolution or mention of millions and billions of years.

 

I haven’t either. Their high school biology uses CK12. I could never get into CK12. The ToC includes 2 chapters on genetics and a chapter on the “theory of evolution.”  Still stumped. 

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46 minutes ago, Plum said:

I haven’t either. Their high school biology uses CK12. I could never get into CK12. The ToC includes 2 chapters on genetics and a chapter on the “theory of evolution.”  Still stumped. 

Found this in the logic stage Earth Science and Astronomy sample where discussion--dismay of the Big Bang theory is marked as optional:

"If you want to introduce your students to the Big Bang theory, this is the week to do so. The pages for this are scheduled as an additional resource reading assignment, which gives you the option to assign them or not. I want to encourage you to do so, even if you don’t hold to the Big Bang theory as the truth of how the universe began. In today’s world, most astronomers do believe in the Big Bang theory. It is often referred to as the most plausible explanation for the origins of the universe, so it is important that students are familiar with what it says. It is also equally as important that as teachers/parents, we share with our students what we hold to be true about the origins of the universe. I believe that logic stage is a good time to begin having those discussions."

Which suggests that yes, the program is trying to be workable for both families who want standard secular science and those who hold religious beliefs that conflict with the standard science.

Seems easy enough to me to use as a straightforward secular program as the resources scheduled are all secular and accommodations for religious modification appear to be notes on optional scheduling and discussion.

Edited by maize
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38 minutes ago, Plum said:

I haven’t either. Their high school biology uses CK12. I could never get into CK12. The ToC includes 2 chapters on genetics and a chapter on the “theory of evolution.”  Still stumped. 

Disclaimer: I have not used Elemental Science materials

This is from the author explaining how evolution is handled.  As a secular homeschooler, I see  red flags here:  Evolution and Big Bang Theory are completely left out of the elementary level materials.  At the logic stage, they are optional content.  At the high-school stage they are taught because "believe it is important for students to be familiar with these theories".  Then a disclaimer about how facts should be treated as facts, and theories should be treated as theories.  I'd venture that gravitational theory and heliocentric theory are treated as fact rather than "theory", and that only evolution and big bang get special "theory" status.   My secular schooler radar tells me that this curriculum would likely not be appropriate for us - it reads "neutral" rather than secular.

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17 minutes ago, maize said:

Found this in the logic stage Earth Science and Astronomy sample where discussion--dismay of the Big Bang theory is marked as optional:

"If you want to introduce your students to the Big Bang theory, this is the week to do so. The pages for this are scheduled as an additional resource reading assignment, which gives you the option to assign them or not. I want to encourage you to do so, even if you don’t hold to the Big Bang theory as the truth of how the universe began. In today’s world, most astronomers do believe in the Big Bang theory. It is often referred to as the most plausible explanation for the origins of the universe, so it is important that students are familiar with what it says. It is also equally as important that as teachers/parents, we share with our students what we hold to be true about the origins of the universe. I believe that logic stage is a good time to begin having those discussions."

Which suggests that yes, the program is trying to be workable for both families who want standard secular science and those who hold religious beliefs that conflict with the standard science.

Seems easy enough to me to use as a straightforward secular program as the resources scheduled are all secular and accommodations for religious modification appear to be notes on optional scheduling and discussion.

 

6 minutes ago, wathe said:

Disclaimer: I have not used Elemental Science materials

This is from the author explaining how evolution is handled.  As a secular homeschooler, I see  red flags here:  Evolution and Big Bang Theory are completely left out of the elementary level materials.  At the logic stage, they are optional content.  At the high-school stage they are taught because "believe it is important for students to be familiar with these theories".  Then a disclaimer about how facts should be treated as facts, and theories should be treated as theories.  I'd venture that gravitational theory and heliocentric theory are treated as fact rather than "theory", and that only evolution and big bang get special "theory" status.   My secular schooler radar tells me that this curriculum would likely not be appropriate for us - it reads "neutral" rather than secular.

Oh I see. I started reading the files under the FB group that had a problem with it and they directly address neutral science. That lead me to start reading more articles about neutral science. 

The font is horribly light on this blog, but it explains exactly what to look for. 

Why "Neutral" Science Isn't Neutral

And there's a podcast with the same name interviewing  Pandia Press. - which I haven't listened to yet. 

 

This is exactly the type of problem Farrar is talking about though. It's so easy to get confused on these issues. 

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34 minutes ago, Plum said:

 

Oh I see. I started reading the files under the FB group that had a problem with it and they directly address neutral science. That lead me to start reading more articles about neutral science. 

The font is horribly light on this blog, but it explains exactly what to look for. 

Why "Neutral" Science Isn't Neutral

And there's a podcast with the same name interviewing  Pandia Press. - which I haven't listened to yet. 

 

This is exactly the type of problem Farrar is talking about though. It's so easy to get confused on these issues. 

It's a huge issue with homeschooling science materials especially.  Evolution is the foundation of all biology, full stop.  A curriculum that leaves out evolution,  or treats is as optional, even at the elementary levels, cannot be secular.

I've been fooled with other subjects too.  I have learn to live with the assumption that homeschooling material will be christian/faith based unless explicitly stated otherwise.   I've learned that I have to carefully comb through a vendor's website for clues - check the "about us", look at lots of sample pages etc.  I bought Nallenart french a few years ago.  There is absolutely nothing on the website that would suggest this program includes religious content.  Imagine my surprise when I open the book and see that the  very first lesson is about a mouse reading her bible.  Then translation of bible verses a few lessons later.  I felt duped.

Edited by wathe
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51 minutes ago, wathe said:

Then a disclaimer about how facts should be treated as facts, and theories should be treated as theories.  I'd venture that gravitational theory and heliocentric theory are treated as fact rather than "theory", and that only evolution and big bang get special "theory" status.

Absolutely. Scientific theory is not equivalent to the colloquial use of the word theory. It isn’t just a guess, or even a hypothesis.

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