After 14 years of homeschooling–I’ve tried a lot of curriculums! Homeschoolers have so many great curriculum choices available…Which is awesome, BUT–it can be totally overwhelming! Don’t let the multitude of homeschool curriculums scare you into analysis paralysis! Here’s the thing–there is no one perfect curriculum! We all have different needs and preferences. However, I do think it’s helpful to learn what’s working for other homeschool families! So today, I’m sharing my top 12 favorite homeschool curriculums –I hope this list is a help and blessing to you!
My Favorite Homeschool Curriculums
In no particular order…Here are the 12 homeschool curriculums that I keep coming back to–I used them with my older children and plan to use them again with my younger children!
My Favorite for Teaching Math:
1. Saxon Math
I’m in the “I love Saxon Math,” camp! Not everyone loves Saxon–and that may be putting in mildly. But I’ve had a lot of success with it–especially in the elementary years! It is incredibly thorough, includes lots of repetition, and skills are built up in small increments over time. Saxon introduces and explains concepts brilliantly–and I have learned so much by teaching the curriculum over the years.
The primary years (Kindergarten through 3rd Grade) are very hands-on and manipulative based. I have an older kindergarten son (6 years old). We used the kindergarten program when he was in preschool and now use Math 1 for kindergarten.
The upper elementary and middle school levels are more workbook based. The workbooks are large and include the lessons, practice problems, and assignments. I would read over the daily lesson and teach it to my kids, do the practice problems with them, and assign MUCH LESS than the 30 problems listed for the independent practice. My kids kept math notebooks for working out problems–but they were also allowed to write in the workbooks.
Here’s a peek at my middle school daughter’s Saxon Math 8/7 from last year:
So as loyal as I’ve been to Saxon Math over the years–I switched to Teaching Textbooks for my middle school daughter this year! And we have LOVED it! (I’ve got a post all about our switch.)
I plan to continue to use Teaching Textbooks for her high school math program–truly it has exceeded my expectations! My daughter has gained confidence and independence in her math work–no more math tears!
I really like being heavily involved in teaching math through the elementary years–but if you’re looking for something to take teaching math off your plate, Teaching Textbooks is an excellent choice!
My Favorite for Teaching Science:
Wow…I really am a science curriculum snob! There is just nothing I love and trust like Apologia Science! And I appreciate that Apologia books consistently point to God–the Amazing Creator!
It works so well for me because I have lots of kids–and with Apologia, I can teach them all together with one book! In the elementary levels, Apologia Science delivers information in a very conversational style with lots of pictures and engaging questions. The books are easily shared in a gentle way to all your kids during a read-aloud time. My children created notebooks chronicling what they were learning, and we did the simple experiments as time allowed.
As my kids entered the middle school years, they often were able to read through the books independently. (Exploring Creation through Science Series–I used books from this series for kindergarten through 7th grade).
I’ve collected the books over time–and Apologia Science has turned out to be a very cost effective way to teach elementary and middle school science! Now I often leave an Apologia textbook out for my kids to look through and engage with– even when we aren’t studying that particular book. My kindergarten son is obsessed with wildlife–so the Apologia books just seem like fun books we checked out from the library!
My 8th grade daughter is working through General Science this year–she really enjoys it! I plan to use the curriculum through high school!
My Favorite for Teaching Language Arts:
One book does it all! Spelling Power covers spelling for 8 year olds through adults–another great value for a large family like mine! It takes about 15 minutes a day for each child to complete spelling.
Lessons look something like this…
- The parent gives a quick 5 minute, individual spelling test to each child daily.
- Then kids practice only missed spelling words for about 5-10 minutes.
- Younger kids will require more assistance and supervision in practicing the words–but older kids can do this fairly independently.
- The next day, yesterday’s missed spelling words are assessed first. If time allows (only 5 minutes for testing)–new spelling words are introduced.
It really becomes a simple routine. (Here’s a post with spelling strategies you can use with Spelling Power!)
*I stop formal spelling practice after 6th grade and begin a more intense study of vocabulary!
I LOVE Shurley English! But I hesitated buying it for years because I thought it would be too “sing-songy,” (it uses jingles to help with memorization). I was totally wrong–and really wish I would have tried it earlier! If you are looking for solid grammar instruction with no diagramming (I personally hate diagramming sentences)–you will love Shurley English!
In particular, I was really pleased with Shurley English Level 7 (which is the program’s highest level). Not only did it cover all basic grammar skills–the writing lessons included in each chapter are excellent and very comprehensive for middle school students!
I’ve used several of IEW products over the years and have always been impressed with the organized way IEW teaches writing! It utilizes lots of modeling. Often in the elementary and middle school years, students are given a piece of writing they expand upon and improve. Sometimes kids don’t know what to write about or how to start writing– not issues for kids using IEW!
7. Worldy Wise
Wordly Wise vocabulary workbooks are a quick, no-prep way to build vocabulary and reading comprehension skills! I typically use them for grades 3-7.
These little flash cards are awesome–they painlessly introduce Latin and Greek word roots! I bought both sets and have used them in several ways over the last 10 years. When my big kids were younger, I’d introduce a new card each week. We kept a pile of cards on the table and reviewed them casually. Now, my middle school daughter studies 5 cards each week and adds the roots, definitions, and words to her vocabulary notebook.
I’ve always been happy with the simple and straight forward approach Handwriting Without Tears presents handwriting instruction and practice. The workbooks make it easy to squeeze handwriting practice into a busy day! (I’ve got two left-handed kids–if you do too, my tips for teaching lefties might help you!)
I designed a beginning phonics program: Ready for Reading! I created the curriculum based on my years of using Saxon Phonics K to teach four of my kids to read and my years as a 2nd grade classroom teacher. You can find out more about teaching phonics in my posts Best Way to Teach Reading and Choosing a Phonics Curriculum.
FYI…Ready for Reading is part of the 2020 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale! (Now through May 18) Don’t miss the huge savings!!
11. Explode the Code
Explode the Code workbooks are simple, whimsical, and inexpensive! They provide reinforcement of phonics lessons and rules–and are perfect for practicing skills over the summer or alongside any reading curriculum during the school year. When my kids are reading at a 1st-2nd grade level and transitioning out of formal phonics lessons–I use Explode the Code workbooks as my main curriculum resource for providing phonics instruction.
I’ve used Tapestry of Grace for over 10 years–it’s a large, expansive curriculum and probably belongs in a post all its own! But suffice it to say–you can make it as central to your homeschool as you like. Tapestry of Grace is a classical curriculum which divides activities and reading assignments into 4 major stages of learning: Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. The curriculum takes your family through ancient civilization to modern times in a four year rotation. So in TOG, all your children study the same slice of history at the same time–but each child is doing activities and reading books appropriate to their learning level. In addition to history, TOG covers geography, fine arts, literature, writing, bible history, and bible study.
Personally, I love the history, geography, and fine arts pieces of Tapestry of Grace–especially the history! I tend to supplement the other subjects–but that is just a matter of personal preference. Overall, it is extremely cost effective for a large family! Everyone is using the same curriculum, and after purchasing four years of TOG, you actually own 12 years of curriculum! Additionally, TOG gives you the option to purchase the product digitally and in units–which I love! It was nice to pay as we went through the curriculum–much easier on the pocketbook!Currently, Tapestry of Grace is the spine of my history instruction. My daughter uses it as a jumping point to study people, places, and events found in her weekly TOG assignments.
I highly recommend you visit the TOG website and check out the curriculum! They offer two, 3-week free samples— so you can really dive in and explore what it offers!
Homeschool Curriculum All-Stars
So that’s my homeschool in a nutshell! Now you know the homeschool curriculum that has shaped my kids’ education and our homeschool experience over the last 14 years! I hope my favorites can be a spring board for you to explore new curriculum choices for your family! I’d love to hear what curriculum is a “must-have,” in your family! What are your homeschool favorites?