Is Homeschooling an option for my family and if so, what are my homeschooling options?
With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many parents are seriously thinking about home schooling their children for the first time starting in the fall of 2020. Below are some considerations as well as some curriculum options for you. These are by no means an exhaustive list of all possible curriculums and if you decide to homeschool your children, we would recommend more research on the specific programs.
1. What experience and confidence do you have in your homeschooling abilities?
Some curriculum/materials will follow closely to a traditional school schedule whereas others will be hands-on and very different.
2. How much time do you have to devote to your children’s school education?
Thiswill be especially difficult for families where both the father and mother have full-time jobs. However, there are options such as the extensive use of workbooks, where students can complete assignments while the parents are working.
3. How much are you willing to spend on home-school materials for your children?
With homeschooling, there are options for children to learn at various price levels. On the lower price side for example, you could preform a science experiment with household materials. Also, you can look for teachable moments with whatever activities you are doing or whatever you find in your house.
4. Are you looking for a Christian or more of a secular world-view with your children’s curriculum.
There are options for either way you would like to go.
What are each child’s strengths? Even though we all want our children to be super-achievers in life, it is important for us to determine not only what their strengths and weaknesses are by subject, but also what motivates each of your children? For example, if you have a child that loves to read, then give them lots of books to read. If your child likes math, there are many ways to create math problems for them in nontraditional ways. Here are a few examples for students that like reading, math or science:
1. If you child likes reading, give them lots of books to read and challenge to them grow into better readers. Review the books with them to make sure they are comprehending what they read.
2. Ask your math-inclined child to calculate the expected cost for your grocery list. This could include marking off each item from the list as you drop each into your shopping cart to tracking the costs for each item. Ask your child to estimate the total sales tax.
3. Ask your child to help with cooking especially with getting the right amounts of each ingredient for something you cook for lunch.
4. For science lovers, take a field trip to the science museum.
5. If your child loves art, take an art class together and have fun.
6. If you child loves history, there are many options for field trips to enhance this learning.
There are just a few examples and be creative. Make every day life experiences teachable moments but one key is to identify each child’s strengths and spend more time cultivating the learning in the stronger areas and not over emphasizing the weaker areas. This will make homeschooling more enjoyable for both the children and the parents.
Below are some different homeschool curriculum options. This is not intended to be a catch-all for any homeschool curriculum questions but gives you an idea of different options available for parents. For a more intensive review of a particular home school curriculum, please review the website for each program or check out the reviews on Cathy Duffy’s website.
Multiple or Full Subject Curriculums/Programs
- Abeka – www.abeka.com
This is an intensive program and repetition is the key to learning. This program is for K-12th grade and has materials for multiple subjects. The extensive materials incorporate three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (hands on). The materials include physical textbooks as well as teaching videos. This is good for parents that would like their children to homeschool but still want to keep much of the structure that a public or private school would have. Also, this program would be well suited for parents moving to homeschooling for the first time this fall.
- Christian Light Publication – www.clp.org
This is a K-12th grade program that uses workbooks and frequent quizzes and tests. This gives a student the opportunity to work independently and a working parent could still have time to focus on their job responsibilities. Another option is that a parent can work closely with their children in some subjects while allowing their children to work more independently in other subjects.
- My Father’s World – www.mfwbooks.com
This is a K-12th grade intensive classical program. The materials are well organized and can help parents teach and track progress for children of different ages. MFW uses Singapore math which relies more on students thinking through concepts and applying these concepts in new ways rather than memorizing solutions to a problem and then moving to the next problem. Also, this program pulls from Charlotte Mason’s ideas.
- Texas Connections Academy – https://www.connectionsacademy.com/texas-virtual-school
This is a public charter school in Texas and serves grades 3-12. This is a no-cost option for students that were enrolled in a public school in the previous school year. This is a totally on-line program.
- Veritas Press – www.veritaspress.com
This is a K-12 program based on classical education and is good for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. This program has self-paced courses and includes some on-line (live) work. Veritas Press is well organized for parents.
- BJU Press – https://www.bjupresshomeschool.com/content/home
This is a K-12 program and is a book-based curriculum. There are also video courses available for parents. This program is a good option for parents making the first-year transition to home schooling their children. This is a completely on-line program with automatic grading.
- Classical Conversations – www.classicalconversations.com
This is a K-12 program with emphasis on English/language arts, writing and math. Also, learning cursive is part of this program. In addition, there is an option to utilize this program with an in-person sessions during the week much like a Co-op.
- Torchlight – https://torchlightcurriculum.com/torchlight/
This is a secular program and based on humanist rather than biblical principles. This program provides much hands-on learning and has audio books for learning as well. The program can be rigid or flexible depending on the need of the children and parents. Besides the normal subjects, this program includes mythology and logic.
- Sonlight – www.sonlight.com
This is a program that is particularly good for stronger readers. The materials are easy to use and a good curriculum for new homeschooling parents. There are also good materials for history which is split into world history, American history, American government and church history. On the math side, Sonlight generally teams up with other math curriculums such as Math-U-See, Horizons, Saxon, and Singapore Math.
- Horizons – https://www.aop.com/curriculum/horizons
This is a K-12th full curriculum that also uses the spiral method (discussed below). This program is good for students with ADHD, those who need minimal instructions, and those students where short bursts of work is effective. On the other hand, this program may not be best for families with students needing different teaching methods as well as students needing intensive instructions. This is a good program for kinesthetic learners and for parents that are transitioning to homeschool for the first time.
- Spiral – This is a method based on teaching concepts but moving on even if a current concept has not been mastered. The theory is that since math concepts build on each other, students will get multiple exposures to a concept and will eventually master each concept. The spiral method allows students to move through math concepts faster than would the mastery method.
- Mastery – This method uses the premise that a concept must be mastered before a student can move to another concept. This is a particularly good method for students who like math but could be frustrating for students not strong in math.
- Incremental – This is a combination of spiral and mastery.
Subject Specific Programs
- Apologia – https://www.apologia.com/
This is a mostly science curriculum with some math materials in the lower grades. This is a very hands-on science program with experiments, tests and study guides.
- Math-U-See – https://www.mathusee.com/
This is a K-12th program with multi-sensory tools and there is relatively much material for each grade. This curriculum could be good for families that have multiple homeschool children as each book can cover more than one grade. While this is a math mastery program, it may be better suited for students not so strong in math and may not be the right program for students who excel in math or have ADHD.
This is a K-12th grade mastery math program. This is a good math program for students with ADHD, those needing little instructions and requires little prep work from parents. This program may be tougher visual learners as well as for students that struggle with math.
- Math Mammoth – https://www.mathmammoth.com/
This is a 1st-7th grade mastery math program and provides several methods for learning a concept. This is a good program for visual learners as well as students gifted in math. Also, students with ADHD and those needing more intervention are good fits with this program. This may not be a good program for students who do not like or do not do well with workbooks.
- A+ Tutor Soft – https://www.aplustutorsoft.com/
This math curriculum has e-books, CDs, and textbook/workbook options and therefore, will work for students with different preferred learnings styles. There are materials for 1st grade through Algebra I. Also, you can purchase this curriculum for a whole year or by units if you would prefer. In addition, this curriculum is a combination of incremental and mastery philosophy.
Hopefully, this brief summary of some different homeschool curriculums is helpful for you. For more details on these and other homeschool curriculums, please see the website included or google other curriculums. Cathy Duffy reviews the top 102 homeschool curriculums on her website as well as she has a printed book. The site is https://cathyduffyreviews.com/.
We wish you well on your 2020-2021 school choice for your children. You will make the right choice for your children!