There are so many curriculum choices available today. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re just starting out with homeschooling. My biggest piece of advice when choosing a curriculum is to consider your family’s needs and wants in your homeschool. Think about what you want your child to learn and how they learn best. What are your families beliefs and morals? Will they play a role in homeschooling? And if so how? Make a list of your criteria. This will help you tremendously in narrowing down a curriculum. In my previous post I listed some great quizzes you can take to help you figure out your child’s learning style and your homeschool style. You can find that post here.
Our Criteria for Choosing Curriculum
When I started homeschooling 3 years ago I was so overwhelmed by all of the curriculum choices. I wasn’t sure where to begin. So I thought of all the things I definitely wanted in a curriculum and wrote them down. The list was pretty small then, but there have been several items I’ve added over the years that I’ve felt are important to our family.
My main focus is looking for a Christian based curriculum. Not only Christian based, but also centered around the Bible. I want the Bible to be intertwined throughout all of the subjects in the curriculum.
Open and Go
I want a curriculum that is all planned out and ready for me to use. I love having the lessons already written and all the supplies listed. I love not having to come up with activities or research books to fit our lessons. I want it all laid out for me. Honestly I don’t have time to plan our lessons every week. I spend my free time painting and creating resources for my Etsy shop. I don’t want to take time away from that to plan.
All In One
I don’t want to have to piece together each subject. I don’t want 7 teachers manuals. I want it all in one book. We have very limited storage space in our small homeschool room. I just don’t have the space for a ton of curriculum manuals and books.
Quality Over Quantity
I don’t want a lot of busy work for my girls. They do not do well with tons of worksheets everyday. A few are ok but any more than that and they feel overwhelmed. So I knew I didn’t want a curriculum that was mainly workbooks.
Option for Adding More
I was a teacher before I had my girls. I loved teaching and I miss creating lessons and activities. So I knew I wanted a curriculum that I could add my own spin to it. I love being creative and making learning fun for my girls. If we come to a topic that they’re really interested in I want to be able to add more to it if needed.
Our Curriculum Choices
We will be using My Father’s World again this year. We have used it since my oldest daughter was in kindergarten. I fell in love with it that year and was so happy to continue it through the years. My Father’s World curriculum combines the ideas of Charlotte Mason, classical education, and unit studies with a biblical worldview. It is an open and go and all in one curriculum. It also allows for me to add more to lessons if I choose. There isn’t a lot of busy work or tons of worksheets. It really has been the perfect curriculum for our family.
3rd Grade Curriculum
We will be using Exploring Countries and Cultures for our main curriculum. Exploring Countries and Cultures is the first curriculum set in MFW’s family cycle. The family cycle is using the same curriculum for all of your children 2nd grade through 8th grade. It is also an all in one curriculum. The only subjects not included are math and language arts. This is so you can tailor them to fit your child’s needs and abilities.
ECC is a geography based curriculum. We will be exploring various countries and cultures of the world. There are several books included in the curriculum as well as an extensive book suggestion list in the back of the teachers manual for each week. The book basket list is one of my favorite things about MFW. They always have an amazing list of books! We will be delving more into map making as well. I have some fun things planned for that as the year progresses!
Science is included in ECC. This year’s focus is ecosystems, animals, and plant life around the world. We’ll also be using some of our science books that we’ve collected over the years to add to our learning. And plenty of fun science experiments!
This was probably the most difficult decision to make. Last year we chose Math Lesson for a Living Education from Masterbooks. It did not work well for my daughter. She really didn’t like it. And I felt it didn’t explain things enough for her. She understands the concepts of addition and subtraction with single, double, and triple digits. And she always answers any math equations correctly. But the one thing I noticed towards the end of the year was that she was still having trouble memorizing basic math facts. She would always answer correctly but had to use her fingers or manipulatives to do so. I really want her to master and memorize the basic addition and subtraction equations before we move on to bigger concepts like multiplication. So I began my search for a curriculum to fit those needs. In came a new program from Math-U-See called AIM Accelerated Individualized Mastery. This program is only about 6-8 weeks and is not a full year curriculum. This program is designed to help students of any age who have completed addition and subtraction coursework without achieving mastery. We plan on using this at the beginning of the school year. Once she has completed the program and if she enjoyed it we will probably begin the Beta or Gamma curriculum from Math-U-See.
Last year we used Spelling by Sound and Structure level 2. My daughter really enjoyed it. So we decided to use level 3 this year. MFW suggests using Spelling Power in 3rd grade but I just thought, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I was pleasantly surprised to find out the level 3 curriculum includes cursive writing as well. My daughter has been working on learning cursive slowly over the past year. She’s excited to be able to practice with her spelling assignments.
Last year we chose Language Lessons for Today from MFW. It was very simple, mostly oral lessons. But my daughter really did not enjoy it. And to be honest I didn’t like it too much either. I felt a lot of it was kind of pointless. This year I stumbled upon Beginning Wisely by Rod and Staff while I was purchasing her spelling curriculum. I read the description and looked through the samples and I thought it looked great. I don’t know how much of it we’ll use this year though as there is a lot included. But I think it will be a great jumping off point for grammar this year.
While we are learning all about various countries and cultures we will also be reading about missionaries and the Gospel of Matthew to understand God’s heart for the world. We will be using the book Window on the World to read about how the gospel is shared to each country and ways to pray for the people in various countries. I’m also excited to include the ABC Scripture set from Pip & J Papery. Each letter corresponds with a bible verse for memorization. There is also a workbook for students to write the verses.
This also included in ECC. The curriculum came with a fun global art book. It is full of various arts and crafts from around the world. I’m not sure how much we’ll actually use this book though. I’m not a huge fan of cheesy crafts. I prefer just giving my girls various art supplies and letting them create however they please. We also love handicrafts and will be continuing learning more about sewing, embroidery, and cross stitch this year.
The included music for ECC is Wee Sing Around the World. It comes with a CD that has various songs from many different countries around the world. It also has a booklet with the lyrics and sheet music as well as some facts about each country. I am also planning for my girls to start taking piano lessons. Whether it be online or in person instruction.
1st Grade Curriculum
My youngest daughter will be using Learning God’s Story. This is an all in one curriculum with all subjects included. Although you are more than welcome to use your own math and language arts if you like. I adore this curriculum!
Learning God’s Story goes through all of the major stories and events in the Bible. My favorite thing is how the Bible is intertwined in every subject. My daughter will be going through the main events and stories in the Bible using the Bible reader. We are also including the books from the series The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas. This series follows a brother and sister and their dog as they travel back to Bible times. It is such a fun way to bring the stories alive for children.
Language Arts/ Phonics
For language arts my daughter will read the Bible reader and practices phonics and spelling using words from the reader. The phonics portion picks up where Kindergarten left off. When my oldest daughter used the curriculum she was reading fluently by the middle of the school year. I can’t say enough good things about the way they teach phonics. It’s not rushed and the sounds are explained so well. It really helps them to sound out words they don’t know.
Math is taught using a developmentally appropriate hands on approach. A lot of the lessons incorporate real life situations and skills. We will be using The Complete Book of Math to compliment the skills learned in the main curriculum. This workbook covers patterns, classifying, comparing, addition/subtraction, place value, geometry, measurement, graphs, time, money, and fractions. We will also be using pattern blocks and unifix cubes for fun manipulatives.
The science portion focuses on God’s amazing world. We will be using a few Usbourne science books to study plant life, water, and other things found outdoors.
The curriculum includes the book Drawing With Children. I tried to use it with my older daughter but we were not thrilled with it. Instead we will continue using and exploring various art materials and handicrafts. We will also be using Enjoying Art Together. This is a fun art appreciation set with paintings of people and animals from various famous artists.
I hope that by sharing our criteria of choosing our curriculum it will help you better understand it more. And if you have the same criteria these choices might work for your family too. I feel that creating a criteria list will help you narrow down curriculum choices for you so it’s not so overwhelming. But remember, if a curriculum isn’t working like you had hoped, don’t worry! You can always change it. You are in control and able to switch things out at any time. Don’t be controlled by the curriculum. If you want to see inside the various curriculums I have added video walk throughs on my IGTV channel. You can find me on Instagram here. Please let me know if you have any questions!