In case you’re just getting in on the conversation, we’ve been talking about the challenges of homesteading and homeschooling multiple children, and what some of my favorite educational resources are.
Let’s continue the discussion as we delve into workbooks, homeschool curriculums, and online courses. Without going into a tremendous amount of details, here’s what we use…
1st-5th Grade. We’ve consistently used Singapore Math for first through fifth grade. Although I continue to look around at other workbooks, I find myself going back to Singapore every year for each elementary aged kiddo. The colorful pictures keep kids engaged, and the approach is very easy to understand, even for children who are just being introduced to mathematical concepts. Once we got to 6th grade, however, Singapore became harder to follow so we only use it up to 5th grade.
Sometimes my kids just don’t feel like doing math worksheets. When they seem to be overwhelmed, I switch tactics and practice mental math instead. For this I use the Rays Arithmetic Series. These books go right along with the McGuffey’s readers that I’ll talk more about in the Language Arts section.
6th Grade. For sixth grade we’ve used MathHelp.com and really loved it. In all honesty, math isn’t my strong suit. Once my oldest hit 6th grade I found myself having to watch YouTube videos to refresh my memory on how to do the problems, which was slowing us both down. I considered hiring a private tutor but this wasn’t an affordable option for us, so I decided to sign her up for online math courses. We used Mathhelp.com for a year and we both really loved it. My daughter was able to watch a video of a math instructor work problems on a white board, and then there were exercises for her to complete on her own. It was totally self guided, with a parent section where I could log in and see her progress and test results. The curriculum there is very well done.
7th-9th Grade. From seventh grade up we’ve been using the Ron Paul Math Curriculum. They offer a week of lessons for free, so we gave it a shot. I felt like the teacher was a bit dry compared to the Mathhelp videos, but my daughter, Jada, didn’t seem to mind. It was less expensive for us to purchase the math curriculum through RPC since we’d be signing up for several of their other courses, so that’s why we chose it. Otherwise I probably would have stuck with Mathhelp a little longer. The RPC courses are very rigorous, but definitely thorough.
This school year my daughter will be taking the 8th grade Personal Finance course through the RPC. I’m super excited that they’re offering this alongside Algebra 1 and 2. If you’ve got a rising 8th grader (or even older kids) you should definitely check it out. You can get the first five lessons for free.
Supplementary Books. All of my children have also been reading the Life of Fred books for Math, which are a fun addition to doing workbooks. They turn math into fun stories that kids can relate to. Check out your local library to see if they might carry the series.
1st-3rd Grade. For the lower grades I really like the Spectrum Language Arts books. I love how simple but thorough each lesson is. The worksheets aren’t heavy on wording, making it easy for younger kids to follow along.
4th-8th Grade. As of this writing I’ve got one rising 5th grader and one rising 8th grader. Both of them will be using the Ron Paul English Curriculum. For us it works best having the older children’s curriculum online so they can be instructed by qualified teachers while I’m free to devote my time to teaching the younger kids. The RPC is set up so that kids watch the instructor’s video lesson for the day and then print off the worksheet or assignment. The following day they go over the previous day’s assignment and the student can make the necessary changes to their answers. No scores are given. The child is very much self-led, though parents should follow along with their child’s progress. At the end of each week a test is given.
Reading and Handwriting
1st-6th Grade. We’ve really fallen in love with using the McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers. I first discovered them while researching what the Amish use in their schools, and after reading tons of reviews I ordered the complete set. The reading lessons start very simple, and gradually introduce different sounds and blends as they progress. Although the material is very old fashioned, I do love the focus on faith based morals taught throughout the stories.
Along with the readers I use printable writing sheets that Sherry over at Mom Delights has made available for free. These pages use the reading material in the McGuffey’s books to reinforce copy work (handwriting), narration, and dictation, as well as spelling. She has a fantastic video explaining how she uses her worksheets alongside the readers. I’ve found it to be extremely helpful.
7th-8th Grade. My oldest daughter has been working through the Spencerian Penmanship Copybooks. The worksheets are very monotonous, but her handwriting has come a long way through this practice. I’d actually love to order a set for myself to work through.
1st-3rd Grade. I actually don’t formally introduce science with a curriculum until 4th grade. Of course they watch educational videos on the human body, ecosystems, the planet, space, plant life, etc. And we get tons of books from the library, and visit museums and nature science centers. We also spend a lot of time outside in nature, learning through observation. Whatever the children express an interest in we dive into head first. I feel like at this age exploration and curiosity best drive the learning.
4th-8th Grade. We are huge fans of
1st-2nd Grade. As with science, we do not formally introduce a geography/history curriculum at this age. Instead we absorb information through videos, books, audio, games, and field trips.
3rd-5th Grade. So far we’ve enjoyed reading through the The Story of the World series. Sometimes it gets a little boring, but I love to include projects or crafts that reinforce what was taught in the reading, which helps keep kids engaged. Oftentimes we can find a YouTube video about the subject, which also helps.
6th-8th Grade. My oldest daughter has really enjoyed Bradley Fish’s history courses through the Ron Paul Curriculum. (We found the 4th-5th grade instructor to be less enjoyable, so we didn’t use RPC for these grades.) I appreciate that Mr. Fish approaches history from a Biblical standpoint, though the curriculum isn’t necessarily “Christian”.
We plan on continuing with the Ron Paul Curriculum through high school, although I have some hesitation using any of Gary North’s courses after reading some bad reviews. We may end up looking for supplements to these classes. (Any thoughts from you guys?)
I think that pretty much sums up what I’m currently using for my kiddos! Hopefully it was helpful to you.
I’m always on the lookout for new homeschool curriculums and online resources. If you’ve got a favorite that your family has enjoyed, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!