If you are looking for art curriculum, Abeka is a great choice. It is age and grade specific starting out at art for the two year old and it continues through sixth grade. The books have fun projects, but also teach technique and concepts while experimenting with different types of media. My children really enjoy using these books and with each one running under $20.00, they are highly affordable. Elizabeth, 8, likes to dig in to them and do projects unprompted. At first I objected, but then just requested that she stay seasonally relevant. This has resulted in her doing several projects independently which has definitely improved her ability to follow directions. It also encouraged patience, self correcting and problem solving. The lessons are easily written out and materials needed to complete the project are listed at the beginning of each one. Also, the plan ahead supply list in the beginning of the book makes it easy to assemble an art crate so you always have needed supplies. This curriculum is an easy way to bring some extra fun into your home school program.
We did this for Margaret's third year. She had done the ABEKA 2 year old curriculum, but with her big sister doing SONLIGHT we thought why not do it across the board with both children? First, she loved getting her box, but having come from ABEKA it didn't continue to build on that foundation, so we ordered the ABEKA 3 year old curriculum as well. Margaret is a voracious learner. There was not enough going on in the SONLIGHT program to challenge her. SONLIGHT is a very classic approach to what most people would do with a little one. It mainly consists of some great stories and extension activities. For example, read Go Dog Go and make dog hand puppets out of socks. If you read a story involving cookies, you may be encouraged to eat some cookies. My daughter loved Mighty Mind and Mix and Match Teddy Bears. The crayons were dangerously messy, but easy to use that they require little pressure to apply color. The books are a thoughtfully put together arrangement of literature that exposes the child to a broad variety of concepts and provokes thoughtful conversation. I think one of the biggest blessings for us is that it introduced books that I likely would not have picked up that have now become well worn favorites. I am glad I purchased this curriculum. It added a very playful and creative dynamic to our day that we all enjoyed. It also encourages patience and independent thinking. The combination for Margaret was perfect. At a current price of $343.34, it is a great price for a curriculum that could easily be repackaged and sold at the end of the year if you are careful with it. Most of it is non-consumable. My children take off with new books like they have found buried treasure, so that is not an option for this girl, but if you are diligent, it is a highly resell-able curriculum. The lessons can take 10 minutes or over an hour. When we read Noah's Ark, my husband put on ocean sounds and with some well placed sheets our dining table became an ark complete with animals, thanks to an abundance of stuffies. It was a play set that endured for quite a while. This is a great, fun, and laid back curriculum that most will enjoy. It is a great addition to any nursery and to the right family it can serve as a great, stand alone curriculum. Thoughts, comments or questions are always welcome. :)
"There is a way out of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it's just a matter of finding it."
When my son was a little guy he struggled with math. He was around 5th grade when he said, "I'm just not good at math." It hurt my heart to see him discouraged, I told him that he was not bad at math, we had just not found his flavor. As people have preferences of taste in foods, people also have different learning styles and this curriculum was not a good "fit."We poked around and in the spirit of Proverbs 15:22, I sought a advice from many moms I respected in our circle. I looked for moms who had kids that had graduated and were doing well. Resoundingly I heard many moms suggest Teaching Textbooks. After a little deliberation, we tried it. I loaded it and got my son set up. He LOVED it! He loved math!!! We found Robert's flavor. Teaching Textbooks introduced math in a fun, easy, laid back way that clicked hard with him. It gave me so much peace to see him enjoying math and learning without a hiccup. The subject he saved for last that would sometimes trail on towards dinner was now the first one he wanted to do. I traditionally don't like online work, but in this case, there was not a traditional alternative that produced the same results. I recently showed it to my daughter who is going into 3rd. She also loved it, but she is doing phenomenally with Math U See which is more traditional, so we will keep to that program. This is a great math program that starts around $45.00 for the year AND has a free trial so your student can try it out for free before you commit. Love it. If you have no objections to additional screen time, this is a great choice. If your student is struggling with arithmetic, this might be his or her flavor. It is certainly worth a try. Parental involvement is low. Class time is under an hour.
So you decided to homeschool and picked your curriculum, but what level? When you finally decide which curriculum fits your students learning style, be sure to use the assessment tool. Often times these take the form of a quiz or it could simply be talking to an advisor. An important thing to remember is that when switching curriculums there will often be holes. Different curriculums cover different concepts at different times. It is better to take the grade level appropriate and test out sooner than a grade ahead and find out the student is missing several foundational concepts. I did this with my son both ways. When he went from first to second he shifted from Core Curriculum of America to Alpha Omega. We hit some work and thought he could do this with his eyes closed. On the other hand, some concepts were introduced as review that he had never seen before. That got me scrambling to teach a concept that in some cases was a few concepts deep. An example is when he hit the "review" for adding change. First you must learn your times tables. Talk about a scramble. It put a lot of pressure on a very competent math student. He was always very confident and was now a bit unsure of himself. When we switched his math curriculum years later he did the assessment and though he was borderline next grade, I put him into the lower grade. I let him take the section tests without doing the lessons. There was a financial expense, but this action saved him from an emotional expense. He got a good way in and stopped when he tested under a B. No holes. No stress. As homeschoolers our children can run as fast as they want. It is a great feature. It means they can walk when they need to and sprint when they are able. No skinned knees from having to keep up. No boredom from having to stay with the class. They are the pilots now. When unsure if you will continue with your chosen curriculum next year, try to keep math consistent. Math is a place where holes can abound. An example is a mom I recently spoke with who is between programs. She is trying Alpha Omega this year, but thinking about shifting to Sonlight next year. She subbed out the math in Alpha Omega with Math U See. This means there will be no holes with her math program next year and will make for a much smoother transition should she decide to switch. I hope this information is helpful. Questions and comments are welcome!
I want to take a minute to share about Easy Grammar. It is a great program a friend told me about years ago. The Daily Gram is a page a day that bolsters grammar knowledge quickly and painlessly. It is also fairly inexpensive at around $30.00 and highly effective. It makes mastering the many grammar concepts, easy. It is a good edition to any students program. My son used this method and his grammar scores were always excellent. I truly believe this was instrumental in achieving that. Practice makes progress. It has been a blessing to our family. I hope it is for yours as well. You can find this program at the link below. Questions and comments are welcome. :)
This curriculum is one of the most easy to use and facilitate curriculums for home use. Hands down. You get a box for each subject. Each subject has 10 workbooks and a teachers manual. The older grades often have a novel in with the Language Arts. Each workbook has periodic quizzes and a test in the center of it to be administered upon completion of the book. *Pull the test out and store it in the box until the student is ready to take it. This curriculum is also an award winning mastery curriculum. Mastery is a term used to indicate that learned concepts will reappear throughout the curriculum to make sure that the child owns the knowledge upon completion of the grade. It is self paced. I had a friend whose daughter loved doing her Lifepacs so much she took them everywhere. She did them in the car, waiting for doctors appointments, etc... She was a driven young woman and Lifepac fit her learning style. My son is 24 and when reflecting on Lifepac he stated that he really liked the simplicity. He had 4 thin workbooks at any given time. We had a box from home science tools sitting in his school area waiting for suggested experiments, but other than that, just those 4 little books. There is a bit of freedom in that simplicity. He always tested much better than average, so it offered a good education as well. I took his new books at the beginning of a set and marked them out with pencil or post its to keep him on schedule. It worked well. That some concepts are woven through the different subjects, I tried to keep them similarly paced. If your child thrives with simplicity and sameness, this would fit well. My son said he liked how easy it was to get it done and knocked out of the way. It took next to no parental prep. It is also fairly student driven so interaction, unless sought out, is low. It is very well priced (under $300 for the four core subjects) if you choose the parent led option, but also offers a transcripted option through Alpha Omega Academy which can use the same Lifepacs, but adds the benefit of being part of a physical school where you have teachers to confer with, diplomas, transcripts, etc... A nice feature is that you can buy the workbooks individually from Christian Book to try the program out. Questions and comments welcome! You can find Alpha Omega Lifepac products by clicking the link below.
Math U See is a great math curriculum that fits perfectly with my teaching style. First It progresses naturally and comfortably while remaining challenging. Second, it is traditional book work with less than 10 minutes of screen time a week. Elizabeth did Beta this year. The only suggestion I would make is that clock skills are better taught after the lesson on tally marks. My daughter had some trouble grasping the minutes on the clock, but picked up tally marks easily. When clock questions came up on tests and reviews after tally work, it was done well and without question. They are taught sequentially. In the future I will teach tally marks prior to approaching the clock work. You may want to do the same. A big surprise was that this level introduced algebra! I have never seen it introduced so early. I was apprehensive. I hit the blackboard with child friendly examples. I replaced the traditional letters with apples, smiley faces, etc. Very quickly she had it down inside and out with letters subbed back in. How does the curriculum work overall? Her tests come back A's and B's so the concepts are being grasped and retained. The curriculum is heavy on word problems. They really get the children thinking and using newfound skills in a practical way. There is a video lesson once a week. It is less than ten minutes. The teacher is warm, fun, engaging and he occasionally throws out silly jokes that make him personable. A great feature is that once you get rolling with this curriculum you only need to get the level up kit going forward because the integer kit is non-consumable. Most exciting is that I saw my struggling math student who dreaded arithmetic take off with math. She found her flavor. In my house one of the things I have learned over the years is that a great math program that fits your child is imperative. It sets the mood. This is one of the very good ones and well priced. Most programs are under $200 for the year with the integer kit and around $100 without. I highly recommend it. Also, for those who may be wondering, it was stated on a website that they added in the weekly G worksheets to make the curriculum compatible with common core. You can find Math U See products by clicking the link below.
Window markers are an awesome tool for homeschoolers. I discovered them some time around algebra with my son and they have been a constant companion since Elizabeth started school. I tried dry erase markers, but they were stinky. Chalk is bad for asthmatics and grease pencils are miserable to clean off. These were an inexpensive and perfect solution. Also, the bright colors keep things fun and are helpful in separating lessons. It is helpful to have lessons on the window. It is a reminder of freshly learned concepts in that I leave lessons up until Friday. It's also a great space to have fussy children write out their spelling words. That is what Elizabeth is doing on the door. She has migrated to her notebook, but it was a good place to start. I review Language Arts and Math concepts this way by writing examples of her work. Whether it is identifying parts of speech or algebra, this makes it more engaging. It washes off the glass easy with soap and water and is a lot of fun for creative kids to show off their budding art skills on this vast canvas. Just be cautious as you would with paint or markers. I remind my kids that it goes on the glass, not the couch. My three year old has demonstrated that I was right... You can find these on Amazon at the link below.
"Can we do this forever!?!"~ Elizabeth (7) during the first week of SONLIGHT.
I love teaching out of this curriculum. My daughter loves doing it. That moment was almost a year ago, but still gives me warm fuzzies. She was happy. We were looking for something that fit my daughter's learning style and found it. This curriculum is a great fit for the child that likes to be challenged, but not stretched and needs the materials to stay fresh. A friend of mine shared with me about her daughter who had done Sonlight up until the last year of highschool. She loved it, but was put in public school in the 12th grade for purposes of transcripting, prom, graduation, etc... She graduated at the top of her class with a full scholarship and got a top level position at a local hospital before graduating from college. That was an impressive testimony from a good friend. We made the call and were connected with Margaret. She is an advisor with Sonlight. The advisors are one of the best features of this program. They are available with advice, tips and to answer questions when they arise. This is a great feature and extends throughout your child's school year. With great patience, as I had a lot of questions, Margaret walked me through creating a program that wrapped itself around Elizabeth. The resulting curriculum was perfect. My daughter who was a very struggling reader, now excitedly looks forward to book day. That is the day we pull her new books. She loves to read now and Dad has a bevy of great bedtime reading (we save some read alouds for bedtime) such as Boxcar Kids & Dr. Dolittle. The Hands on History portion had us making a trebuchet, car, an obelisk, and lots of other cool things that we all had fun with. World Cultures delivered an engaging and impressive exposure to different cultures while delving into different time periods as well. Something very special about this curriculum is how it does it all in a very relatable way. The grammar portion was intimidating at first glance. My daughter was struggling with writing a sentence and it was grooming her to write stories, but I am glad to say we have come a long way since September. A couple of weeks ago she started writing a book called The Faithful Tree because she was inspired by a tree that fell during a snowstorm this year. She both wrote and illustrated it. It's not Beverly Cleary, but it was sweet and unprompted. My daughter loves to read and is writing extemporaneously. Also, she is a stellar speller. Months of poetry have left their mark... A weekly word list is part of the curriculum and correlates with Explode The Code, an assigned workbook. The combination is powerful. Wordly Wise was fun and broadened her vocabulary. Also of note, Handwriting Without Tears and copywork really helped to refine her handwriting. Okay, enough about Grammar and onto math. We used Math U See. We really enjoyed it. To keep this short, please see the separate review for this program above. The science was great. She did Science A. It was an astonishing exposure to what felt like our universe, from the atom to the solar system and everything in between. When I think of the scope of what we covered I have a strong impulse to lean back and say yeah, we did that... It was awesome and fun. There were lots of hands on experiments and the Discover and Do DVD makes making sure every experiment sees the light of day easy. We have grown seeds, made homemade volcanoes and lots of other hands on activities. Of note is the required encyclopedia is chock full of links that are clips of the subject they are learning about. This was a really engaging feature. One of the very best benefits of this curriculum is how the stories have helped mold my children's character. I say children's because my 3 year old also listens in. In fact, most often she sits through her sister's lessons. I find this to be a great multigenerational curriculum. I have had a 2, 3,and 8 year old sitting through the read alouds. Egermeier's Story Bible, Good News Must Go Out, The Giant Leafy Obstacle and many others were SO inspiring. Stories of courage, selflessness, doing right when it is hard and so many other character lessons are taught. This curriculum truly educates the whole child in a way that benefits all who listen. The days vary in length, but one on one instruction is rarely more than 2 hours. Parental prep is about an hour a week. The days are well planned out grid style day by day making it a breeze to facilitate. The price is a bit higher than some, but they do have a great interest free payment plan you can take advantage of. There is also the potential to sell it off at the end of the year in that many of the materials are non consumable, if you can bear to part with them. Overall, it was well worth the investment. We have observed great academic, character, and spiritual growth in our daughter and she "loves the way she learns." So do we. As always, questions and comments are welcome. :)
Abeka 2's and 3's... This is an amazing program. It is available through Abeka or christianbook.com. So much good to say about this. After homeschooling my son for 17 years it had come to an end. Having taught at Montessori I already had a Montessori environment going on, more about that later, but suffice to say there was a level of education going on for our two year old already. I still felt the itch to do a bit more. Elizabeth was verbal at a bit over a month. Potty trained by one. Everything was early. She was always grasping for more. I poked for a curriculum geared towards my two year old thinking I was mad, but low and behold Abeka popped up. I was familiar with the school so I jumped at the opportunity. She loved it. She settled in to her daily class time quickly. We sang songs, did language development, counted, crafted and just had fun. Within the first couple of months she had a poem memorized. School time lasted about a half hour a day. Perfect fit for her developing attention span. As an aside, I think it was also special to her because it was daily, planned time that I focused on her. This is great for any child. There are no expectations. It gives each child broad exposure to various concepts from the letter Aa to how people live in Japan. I applaud Abeka for stepping outside of the box and broadening educational horizons for our little ones. The curriculum is also very well priced. With all the bells and whistles the 2's curriculum runs about $350.00, but the visuals and instructor guide is used in 3's as well. The guide is broken in two halves. The first is 2's and the latter 3's so when you begin the 3 year old curriculum you only need the new workbooks which run around $70.00. In other words it runs about two hundred dollars a year. AMAZING! Also noteworthy is that my 2 year old grandson was non-verbal in January. He was two in November. Other than uice for juice there was no progress being made verbally. My son and daughter in law were very concerned. We bought them Abeka 2's and in a short time there was a language explosion. I am glad to say that after 6 months he is speaking in phrases, knows his colors and says them by name. He is also counting to ten. The difference is night and day. We were in the process of getting him registered with early intervention, but he no longer needs it. The above curriculum is some of my 3's curriculum. I pull all my worksheet and visual aids in the beginning of the week for ease of use and keep them in a canvas bag ready to go. Parental preparation is less than 30 minutes a week and lessons are around 30 minutes as well. Lessons are well planned and laid out allowing you to focus most of your teaching energy on your child. As a fun bonus you will likely learn as you teach. The language development section is really informative, engaging and encourages conversation. We use youtube to expand on lessons. Whether it's donkeys or transportation, you will find small clips to enhance the lesson and if you type in Abeka Alphabet, the official Abeka alphabet song will pop with visuals. Thoughts or questions are always welcome. :) You can find Abeka products by clicking the link below.