Starting Homeschool: Curriculum Overload

(continuing the Starting Homeschool series)

You can download the whole ten page guide here:  Starting Homeschool Guide , which has all of the information in this series in a format is a little easier to read and a blank planning page here: school year planner page.

Tips to Save You Time, Money and Frustration  When Choosing Curriculum:

When it comes to homeschool curriculum, there are the all-in-one sets that have everything (or almost everything ) you need for a year and then there are publishers that specialize in one or two subjects alone.  I have found that most people start out using a big set of complete curriculum.  That is a perfectly fine place to start if that is what you decide (especially you buy it used), since it would be very difficult to match your child(ren) to the perfect curriculum until you work with them on a daily basis and find their specific strengths and weaknesses and until you get to know what is available.  Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing curriculum:

  • Take note of the things that are not going as well as you would like or specific areas where they may be struggling and ask around if anyone else has had a similar situation.  That is where the discussion groups are very helpful.  Others may know of something that addresses that very issue.
  • Most sites have at least some things for free – some more than others.  If you sign up for their “newsletters,” many of them will send you free printables.  Most will require you create an account with a password, even for things that are free, but I have not had an issue with spam from any of these.  For sites that are for teachers, just enter “Homeschool” as the name of your school if they don’t have an option already for homeschoolers.  Some blogs have free downloadable resources, especially for younger children.
  • Most subscription sites have free trials.
  • Lots of workbooks (like Spectrum workbooks or Evan Moor Daily Practice workbooks have the option of purchasing a PDF download instead of the actual printed book.  This helps if you have more than one child, because you can re-use it when the next child needs it by just printing them out again or if you want to review.
  • Focus on the “3 R’s” (Reading, WRiting and ‘Rithmetic)  If you have strong readers and writers that can do math, everything else will be okay!  History, Science and all the rest are important, but the foundations are reading, writing and math.  If they are not strong readers it is hard to acquire the information in other subjects (not impossible, but harder) and it is more difficult to show what they know if they are not strong writers.
  • If you are thinking of homeschooling only for a few years, you may want to check out your state’s standards or common core online for your child’s grade so that they are learning the same things as their peers.  If it will be more long term, it may not matter to you.  You can also take a look at the “What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know” books.  They are available in most libraries.
  •   I have put together three charts to give you an overview of the materials that I have used or looked into at one time or another:
  1. Major publishers of “all inclusive” sets (below)
  2. Major publishers specializing in certain subject areas (below)
  3. Supplements and lesser known sources (coming – this one has more than you can imagine)

Of course there are many more not listed here, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with.  We use materials from many different companies and have found a great mix that works well for us.  The advantage of homeschool is that you can give your child what they need, not what a typical child needs at their age.  It’s not about being ahead or behind.  It’s about providing just the right challenge exactly where they need it.

Major Publishers of “All Inclusive” sets

Tip:     Almost all of these publishers will send you a free catalog and most will let you see samples online,
so look at the catalogs, see what appeals to you and check out the best ones online.

A Beka:
Christian, academically rigorous curriculum, all subjects

AOP (Alpha Omega Publications):
Christian, very popular
They offer traditional (book based), online, and software

Bob Jones:
Christian, now offer distance learning   options as well as traditional

Five in a Row:
Literature based, mostly for early primary
Also have “Before Five in a Row” for preschool and ” Beyond Five in a Row” for later

k12 (independent route):
You can also use it   “independently.”  You pay for   the class (or classes) and they send you all the books and access to the site   for a year.  We used this for our first   full year of homeschooling and occasionally for certain subjects along the   way. Very thorough curriculum, high quality materials.

k12 (through public charter school or their own private school):
Secular, complete virtual school complete   with a teacher to grade work and have class once a week at a brick and mortar   school.  These are often charter   schools and are free to people who live in the districts that offer it.  It can be rigid and time consuming because   you have to do it “their way.”

Rod and Staff: no official website, available at multiple sites
conservative Christian curriculum, style is   old-fashioned, many people use just language arts from Rod and Staff

Christian, literature based complete   curriculum
We use their book lists every year for novels, historical fiction and   biographies.

Veritas Press:
classical curriculum

Heart of Dakota:
Charlotte Mason/ Unit Study

My Father’s World:
Christian, Literature-based, clear lesson   plans. different content for different ages/grades

Tapestry of Grace:
some classical style elements, integrated   unit studies, can combine ages/grades

Common Publishers for Individual Subject Areas:

American Chemical Society:
free, secular middle school chemistry curriculum by the American Chemical Society

science, very popular with Christian homeschoolers, young earth, no climate change

Explode the Code:

Family Time Fitness:
PE, includes the whole family, written materials and videos

Handwriting without Tears:
printing and cursive, very popular in schools

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW):
amazing writing curriculum
Review is coming for this one!

Life of Fred:
narrative approach to math, many use it to supplement

Math Mammoth:
math curriculum

Math U See:
I have reviewed this here.  We LOVE MUS!

McGuffey’s Readers: free here:
old (think 1800’s) school books, popular with Charlotte Mason homeschoolers

Primary Language Lessons:
popular with Charlotte Mason homeschoolers

Real Science for Kids:
Science, author is a Christian, but does not address evolution/creationism.

Real Science Odyssey:
Science lesson told in a story, labs, popular with Classical homeschoolers

Right Start Math:
math curriculum

popular math curriculum

See Time Fly:
Review is coming for this one!  This is a little-known but EXCELLENT set of history books, good middle school follow up to Story of the World for those that use the classical method.

Shurley English:

Singapore Math:
very popular math program

Teaching Textbooks:
math curriculum

For those of you that already homeschool, I would love to hear about YOUR favorite resources in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Starting Homeschool: Curriculum Overload

  1. We love Teaching Textbooks for upper level math, but we have recently made the switch to Life of Fred Math to see if it’s a better fit for my older daughter.So far, it has been a blessing for us in keeping our homeschool happy.

  2. What a great resource this post is! Don’t forget about TeachersPayTeachers ( for homeschooling resources!

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