Thursday, August 6, 2015

The myth of the perfect homeschool curriculum, and what we use

I don't like to think of myself as "veteran" anything, but now in my 12th year of homeschooling, I guess that's what I am, or at least am thought of as being. Our kids this year are in grades 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and K5. Like you haven't already heard a million times before, enjoy your kids while they are little, because times goes by sooo fast! I remember teaching the oldest boys their letters, and it doesn't seem right that it happened as long ago as it did. 

Many times I am asked about my favorite curriculum, what I use, or what I would recommend. Of course I like to help other moms starting out on the homeschool journey, but I also want to caution them against the idea that there is such a thing as a perfect curriculum that works for all kids, all grades, from K through 12th grade. That's like asking me what I think a perfect spouse is like - my ideas and preferences are not those of someone else.

There are three main reasons why I believe there is no such thing as one curriculum that a homeschool parent can settle on once and for all:

- Learning style: Everyone is different, and what works for one child, may not at all work for another. To illustrate this, think about this: when getting directions, do you prefer a drawn map with the route, or do you prefer written/verbal directions? I am lost with the latter, I have to "see" where I am going. My husband is exactly the opposite. Kids are the same way - what clicks with one does not click with another.

- Aptitude: One child may be a math whiz, another may struggle with it, but excel at a different subject. The 8th grade level book that works for one child, may totally go over another child's head, who will need a less demanding curriculum in that particular subject.

- Interest: Not only do kids get bored using the same curriculum year after year, but so do we as homeschool moms! It's nice to change things up and switch curriculum around a bit to keep everyone engaged and interested in learning. 

Of course, switching around too much is not only costly, it also takes up much space to store your materials, and makes it difficult for the parent to become an expert at teaching any one subject with ease because he/she is not familiar with the curriculum.

All that being said, here is a little chart of what I have nailed down as our favorite curricula for the core subjects after over a decade of homeschooling. This chart includes the various options in each subject to allow for the three factors mentioned above.  

This is just what we do, what works for us, and may look totally different for someone else.

 And here is Week 1 of this year's lesson plans (if you click on the picture, it should come up bigger):

The colors are for the different children, and correspond to "their" identifying color in our family. Orange: Solomon, 10th grade; Green: Isaac, 8th grade; Blue: John, 6th grade; Turquoise: Miriam, 4th grade; Purple: Rebecca, 2nd grade; Pink: Anna, K5

For the first year ever, I was able to write all 36 weeks of lesson plans, complete with activities and field trips, for the entire year! Which is exciting, because it really helps the kids be able to work more independently, and us all to stay motivated and on track. 

This was our first week of school, and it went very well. We typically do field trips on Friday morning, and then finish up loose ends and go to the library on Saturday. 

I hope this helps someone else out there! :)


  1. Thank you!! I have been looking for something like this to help me get started!!

  2. I am so excited to see that you are using SOTW in conjunction with GTG/CTC - that is exactly what we settled on too! Hurray! We are in Year 3 too - though we're just beginning it (week 5). I love it, and the curricula combination works so well. For some reason I thought you guys had chosen MOH instead. I'm excited to be using the same books. :)

    I have tried to put together a similar curriculum plan (overall), though only for early elementary. I love looking at your ideas, and I see some new ones to try. Thank you for posting this!

    I have to say - I am so impressed with your weekly lesson plans. How on EARTH do you do that without losing your mind? You are amazing. Right now I only plan one week out - finish one week and plan the next. It works well so far, but again - we only have one student. I know that it will really change when we up the number of children we have in school.

    I'm looking forward to using the R&S preschool books year after next! :)

    Thank you - I love reading posts like this!!

  3. You are in your 12th year of home schooling? I thought your oldest was 13.

  4. Having an entire year completely planned in detail is mind boggling to me. We will be entering our fifth year of homeschooling. I have all the curriculum in order and know approximately what needs to be accomplished each day/week to make it through the material. Yet, I can only write down detailed plans for 1-3 weeks at a time. Life seems to bring unplanned interruptions -- illness, appointments, family visiting from out of state, getting snowed in at my dad's for three days, homeschool group field trip that is announced two weeks in advance, child that needs several weeks of extra work to master multiplication tables.... Do you end up rewriting many of your plans?

  5. If I could take a step back in time I would homeschool my children. They are now 32 & 35, attended university, traveled the world through their work, and are everything to me. Although they attended a very good small school, I still look back and wish I had homeschooled them. Instead I went to graduate school and worked in my field.

    I enjoy your blog.


  6. I am using Saxon Math and American Language Series (by Guyla Nelson) for K. When I was homeschooled we used mostly Alpha and Omega and Christian Light.

  7. Watched some of your husband's preaching on YouTube . He is very good. He is brilliant . I loved how he dealt with that cursed pretender White. I like him preaching book of revelation. God bless you all.

  8. Thanks for sharing! This is very helpful. God Bless

  9. Thanks for sharing !

  10. I'll be starting K5 in the Fall. I will be using A Beka, but I am looking for a science and history curriculum. I see you use Galloping the Globe. What comes with it? Do I need to buy anything else to supplement it?

    Also, any advice for Kindergarten =)?

  11. We are going into our 4th year of homeschooling. I wanted to change it up because it seemed the children where getting bored and not learning as well. I searched and searched and researched material but couldn't decided which material then I thought, I wonder what Pastor Andersons wife uses. Thank you for showing us. It's just what I needed, a person of the same values who I feel I can trust. Can't wait to see how this works for us.

  12. Thanks! Like Christy above, I value your opinions. I feel reassured when I see you recommend much of the same curriculum I have been considering for this fall. We have used MFW for my oldest for K5 and 1st grade and are ready for a change but I have been agonizing over the decision of which curriculums to use! Thanks again!


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.