A huge topic of conversation amongst homeschool parents or those who are interested in homeschooling is "What curriculum are you using?" Below is the curriculum we are using this year for the both kids, and the end of the year I'll be sure to review each one and let you know how they worked for us.
We wanted something that would engage and keep the attention of both our son and our daughter. The biggest issue we had is our son was diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age and if something doesn't keep his interest then he won't try. And honestly if I didn't want him to have fun and learn at the same time then why am I trying to teach him. Isn't that the point of homeschooling. To make learning fun? Well for us it is, so many of our activities are hands on because both of my children on kinesthetic learners.
We chose Notgrass for our civics/government class mainly because its not overly Christian based. Now before you start casting your stones at me, I have nothing against Christian based curriculum, its just not for us. With the election this year this is a very strong civics based course which goes into the election process, the three branches of the government, how the government (Federal, state, local) is supposed to work. It was just perfect timing with everything that is happening at this time in our country. The best part is you do not need both the Student Workbook and the Lesson Review, so saves you a couple dollars there. I'm really looking forward to diving into this course with the kids. I've heard many great reviews since learning about the series.
Patrick LOVES Teaching Textbooks or TT for short. We were using another math program last year and he was so frustrated with it. He wasn't understanding it, it didn't have very good explanations, it was just horrid. My girlfriend Allison, who's been homeschooling her kids since the beginning, recommended this one. Suddenly Patrick was understand 6th grade math, he was blasting his way through the lessons no problem. His math grade went from a 'D' to an 'A' and he wanted to do math instead of fighting me through it. The fact that is programs covers three types of learning at once is wonderful, auditory - give a lecture at the beginning of each lesson and goes over examples. Visual - shows you how to do the problems and walks you through them. Kinesthetic - has them do multiple problems on their own and work them out so they understand how to do them. Even Bella was able to try it out when we were at the Great Homeschool Conventions in Ontario, California. She has been begging to start math ever since.
The best part of the TT, is we bought our from someone who was done with them off a homeschool buy and sell page on Facebook. I just called Teaching Textbook and they reactivated the code on the back, for FREE! Seriously how great is that!
Science can be very overwhelming, ok I made a funny....science curriculums ARE very overwhelming. There are so many to choose from, there are so many different aspects of science, where do you even start. Chemistry, Biology, Life, Earth, Space, Physics, Anatomy, Geology, and the list just keeps going. How do you want to engage them? How do you want to teach them? Holy crap! This was one of the most overwhelming parts for me was choosing a science curriculum. I went with R.E.A.L Science Odyssey, I did a lot of looking into it and saw it was very hands on. R(ead) E(xplore) A(bsorb) L(earn)...Seriously how perfect! There are so many labs in this curriculum and you can make your life just a little bit easier by purchasing a science kit if you don't want to go hunting for all of the pieces. Now it maybe way out of Patrick's grade level but I'll have Patrick do some more in-depth investigating during his portion.
Rod and Staff English: Christian based curriculum, but I love the way it break down the english language for the kids to understand. English was never my strong suit in school and I do not want my children to just get by with the bare minimum. These are the only books, that I've seen, that completely breaks down nouns, pronouns, verbs adverbs, diagraming sentence structure, and continuously builds upon it through the grades.
Rod and Staff Spelling: originally I had them doing the Spelling by Sound and Structure then I found their Practical Spelling. The Practical Spelling is everyday life based with home and school references, where as their Sound and Structure is Biblical based with many bible stories and Christian conduct.
Rod and Staff Penmanship: is going to help assist me in teaching Patrick and Bella the fine and dying art of cursive. I had to go back quite far grade wise to figure out where they both where but I would rather start from the beginning then try to jump into their current grade level and get them confused and frustrated. I really don't understand why cursive is going away, but my two will learn it.
I honestly know very little about this course but I have a very good gut feeling about it. Because it is so hands on and interactive I think the kids will enjoy learning Spanish vice the regular memorization from other programs.