Friday, January 26, 2018

Q/A: Homeschool Curriculumn

I'm often asked what homeschool curriculum our family uses. I hesitate to answer because I'm not saying that what I use is the best. I have little experience with the vast amount of homeschool curriculum choices available. I know how easy it is to hit the winter school slump and decide to throw out all your books and buy new ones. So writing about this topic, especially at this time of year, might only give fodder to a weary mom.

But I love reading book reviews and hearing what other families use. There is always a chance that I'll learn about the perfect curriculum that is fun, lovely, academically strong, easy to use, and of course, cheap. I've decided by now that the perfect curriculum doesn't exist, because they all require effort which can't always be labeled "fun."

We've been homeschooling for nine years now, and I suppose that puts me in the "experienced" category. For the most part we've stuck with the same curriculum for those nine years. We have some hard days including learning disabilities and motivational challenges. Every time I get that urge to dump all our books and try something new, I figure that we will bring our same weaknesses and character flaws to the next curriculum so we keep plugging on. There may be good times to change curriculum, but I don't believe in a magic potions.

So with that disclaimer, here is what we are currently using for our homeschool curriculum with students age 13, 12, 10, and 8.

Math grade 1

We've used Christian Light Education math since first grade with our first child. We now have a eight, seventh, fifth, and third grader. I wanted to stay consistent with a math program since math builds on previous concepts. I love how easy CLE's math is for me to teach. I knew that math was going to be my weak point in teaching and CLE has been perfect for me. I like the practical examples for using math to help answer the question "When will I ever use this?"

My children don't particularly like math - but I don't think they'd like any math program. Next year I'm thinking of switching my oldest to Teaching Textbooks since I'm not confident of my ability to teach high school math, but to my shock my daughter stated that she likes CLE math and doesn't want to change.


Our children use Daily Grams starting in 3rd grade. I love that each day has one worksheet with punctuation, capitalization, sentence combining, and other grammar skills so there is consistent practice. Daily Grams does not have any real teaching; it is basically a review worksheet book. But I teach each concept as it comes up in the worksheet. We add some basic review of parts of speech and last winter I did a two-month session on sentence diagramming for my two oldest children. This method of grammar has worked well for us but might not be ideal if you are less confident in teaching grammar.


I have some children that can spell as good or better than I can and others that trip over simple words. I think that for some students spelling will just come naturally and it is nothing that I have done as their teacher. I use a mix of All About Spelling and Spelling Power. I like that in both books I can work with the child at their own level. In the last few months I've seen a jump of improvement in my struggling spellers so I try to rejoice in their success and not think about their grade level.


I've used various writing resources and haven't found my perfect curriculum. Maybe I'm too opinionated about what constitutes good writing. It is a little frustrating to tell my children, "Your book says...but I don't agree." But it does give some good conversation about writing. Right now I'm just assigning writing projects and teaching writing skills as I think of them or as they come up. I love writing, but my haphazard method probably lacks. This year we've been working on short research papers.

Bible 7

We begin using CLE's Bible curriculum in about 3rd grade. I like to keep my children together for convenience when possible so they don't always use their own grade level but sometimes combine with a sibling. My older children are learning to use the Strong's Concordance this year which I think is valuable.

Changing frontiers

I wrote about our history study in a previous article so you might already guess that this is my favorite subject. We are presently using CLE's Changing Frontiers with the whole family. We love reading stacks of books and immersing ourselves in a time period. We've been studying history in a four-year, chronological rotation. This year we are studying the time period from the Civil War to Modern Times.  Next year we'll return to Bible and Ancient history to begin our third rotation through history.


We study science together as a family using Apologia's Young Explorer series. In past years we've studied Astronomy, Anatomy, and Zoology. This year we are using their Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics book. It has been the perfect introductory course for our family. Next year my older students will need to enter high school courses and we will no longer study all together. I'll miss it.

Extras -
Spanish - Rosetta Stone
Keyboarding - Bruce's Unusual Typing Wizard - a free online typing program

I'd love to hear what curriculum you would recommend.

And if you are that weary mom in a winter slump, my best advice - bundle up the children, and yourself, and go for a walk. We've been trying to walk a mile every day and it makes a huge difference in my view of life.

This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Hello, Gina! I am a new reader, having found your blog via a sourdough recipe! :) I wanted to say that I have been using Teaching Textbooks for my 17 year old and 12 year old since 4th grade, and it has been wonderful for both children. It allows them to advance in math WITHOUT my guidance, as there are daily lectures and lessons/practice, so it frees up my time. The grade book allows me to check on their progress. If they get "stuck", usually going back to hear the lecture again solves the problem. So, as your older children get into advanced math, it might be a great tool for them!
    Math was never my strength, so it is nice to have such a great program, and each grade purchased can be used for multiple children, as the grade books can be erased. Hurray!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Dawn. I'm really leaning toward Teaching Textbooks for my older students.

  2. I researched home school options for my grand daughter several years ago,now. I went to various meetings with families that went with one type or another, went to the home school book exchanges and store etc. I was struck at how easy it would be to combine elements and custom make programs for individual children. One outstanding discovery (well used in my GD early education) was the very creative use of "hands on math" Before this delightful discovery, I thought there was no escaping the drudgery of basic math. This used legos, cheerios, pick-up sticks, and much more to make adding, subtracting/ multiplying and division a very fun adventure. I don't recall a specific book, but found resources online, and at 'math fairs' for children. GD is now in 7th grade and sailing through algebra.
    All this to say, is I found the most helpful thing for me was going to the book exchanges, talking to other home school parents and browsing home school resources and forums online.I was amazed at the creativity! I imagine that there are even more choices and discoveries since my wading in to the home school world, about 10 years ago.

  3. Hello Gina! Thank you for sharing this post. It's always neat to read how other families make it all work. Personally Teaching Textbooks was not a good fit for our family (I'll sell you ours:)) and wish we would have just stuck with ACE/CLE. Oh, that winter slump, no doubt! We lighten things up by watching Frozen Planet and Planet Earth, listen to Mystery of History CD's etc at this time of the year. Going for mile walks sound wonderful, but up here in Canada right now. . . BRR!

    1. I love there are options for everyone!

      After our few weeks of very cold weather at the beginning of this month - I'm glad I don't live further north.

  4. I use ACE with my daughter because I want her to have a Christian education. Plus, it was one that offered free online testing to see what level she should start in. I wasn't sure where to put her at the time even though she was technically kindergarten age because she was already reading and spelling at about a third grade level. ACE helped me figure out where to place her. I also have had her in piano lessons for over three years now, since I'm not qualified to teach her any music:-) Thank you for telling us what curriculum you use.

  5. I am a homeschooling mom of 18 years. Boy, does it fly by!! My youngest is a sophomore, so I'm on the home stretch. I highly recommend Teaching Textbooks as well as the IEW writing program. I am a co-director at our homeschool co-op and this writing program has made an immense difference in all our student's writing!


I love to hear from you.


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