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SkyeSpade 09-27-2012 11:41 AM

Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
Allow me to start by saying I'm not even certain I'm going to homeschool yet. I don't know if I can get DH on board, and I'm toying with the idea of trying to get my boys into a magnet school instead. But the more and more I hear about public schools (I grew up in Catholic schools, which were great, except that DH and I are no longer Christians), the less sure I am about sending my children when the time comes.

However, I am so overwhelmed by all the curriculum choices. I know I have years to go, and some parents don't even follow a curriculum and whatnot..... But I'd kind of like to try homeschool pre-k curriculum with ODS next year or the year after. He's so bright for only 2.5, I often feel like I'm not challenging him enough....I'm at a loss, and think that I could use some help! Also, if I do decide to homeschool full time, it'd be nice to have the experience to start with.

I ran into a lot of trouble finding curricula in the first place since so many seem to be Christian-based, which is wonderful if that's what you're looking for....but like I said, we are not Christians. I thought I might be able to cut that part out, but I'd really like to find something built without religion in mind in the first place, if I can. I found the website which lists a bunch of secular curricula, but the reviews on there are mostly minimal.

Soooo, if you made it through all that......what curriculum/curricula do you use, and why? If you use a Christian curriculum, how integrated is religion into the lessons, and can it be passed over?

cowangel 09-27-2012 12:58 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
I'm looking into trying with my 4 and 1/2 year old...she has tried the free sample lessons and loved's not Christian based from what I can tell so's $19.99 a month I believe and all online with games and that sort of thing to encourage 1st grader seems to like it too since he's what I would call an accidental learner - he doesn't know he's learning while playing the games:).

AVeryHappyMama 09-27-2012 02:24 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
I use Flowering Baby. There are five levels: age 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 (prek). The first three levels go by what month age-wise your child is, and the 4th and 5th levels, starting a month after your child's 3rd birthday, are written by month of the year. There are 12 months in each level.
I love it because it is play based, has a wide range of activities, cultural exposure, literature, nature, music, 123s and ABC, fine and gross motor skills, and uses things found in most homes and the library. The literature is varied. Some may be your picture books like Brown Bear Brown Bear, some a more informational book (DK Elephants for example), some may be a longer read (we read Winnie the Pooh in July at age 3; I have it on tape so he listened to it at rest time). It's also really easy to incorporate into the day. It'd be really easy to use one level for each child is the website, and you can see samples of each level here
1-2 years old
2-3 years old
You can see examples of things we do in their age 3 curriculum on my blog It doesn't include a Bible component so I add in Bible instruction on my own. I looked ahead and saw there is a unit on Christmas in December in the age 3 curriculum (includes both secular and Christian book recommendations, and would be easy for you to just use the ones you wanted) and a unit on other religious holidays in that same month. That's the most I've seen in it by far.

Seasons of Joy is a homeschool 0-5 year Waldorf based curriculum. I own the autumn guide which is delightful. It uses a lot of real art and real crafts as opposed to the common cut and paste crafts, has you narrate fairy tales to the children, gives ideas for them to act them out, incorporates rhymes and songs into quite literally everything, and has cooking activities too. It doesn't include math or ABCs because in Waldorf you don't introduce those until later. An example from autumn would be one day you paint just with red, and while your child paints you inspire him by reciting a little nursery rhyme about Tippity-Toes the red squirrel. It's very different.

Winter Promise starts at age 3 with their I'm Ready to Learnnand Journey to Imagination packages. They do include Bible but it's not incorporated and thus easy to leave out. There are four units, and the units are inspired by a Williamson Little Hands activity book. They are very cute, crafty (traditional preschool sense), and they teach what needs to be taught well. follows the one-letter-each week method of learning the alphabet and sounds. It is free. There is an outline of what is to be taught each week or every other week. It includes music, vocab, books, language, activity ideas. I loved their Brightly Beaming Baby and Brightly Beaming Toddler levels. When it came to their Prep Curriculum and up (starting age 2) I realized I am not a fan of letters taught in isolation and the slow pace of one a week, or all the printed work pages used for such youngsters, so that's when I parted ways with Letter of the Week.
Age 1-2
Age 2 has another popular letter of the week curriculum.

Although a Christian curriculum (integrated throughout, so no hope of removing content) from k and up, the preschool bundles in My Father's World shouldn't be offensive at all. They include a bible memory bundle, but you could leave that out. They are bundles of educational toys with teaching suggestions to use all those educational moments.

Timberdoodle does something similar, with a much more varied bundle. Looks quite fun.

If you are interested in Montessori, you might want to try the Montessori at Home ebook, and get hold of the book Mommy Teach Me. Totally secular.

jen_batten 09-27-2012 02:45 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
I don't know how to help you but thought I would just say that we use My Father's World. It would not be what you are looking for. It is a Christian based program and is very intergrated into all areas of the curriculum. I would also guess that you can rule out Heart of Dakota (I hear it's similar to MFW), Abecka and Sonlight. That's probably not a lot of help, I don't know anything about secular curriculums, but at least that's a few you don't have to look into. Good luck to you though--I hope you find something great for your family!

TJR2119 09-27-2012 03:38 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
We are secular homeschoolers and I am a member of that secular hsing forum. I love Time4Learning. It is a secular, interactive web based program. DS loves it! But I think your children are too young for it.

You still have plenty of time to search the secular forum and decide on something. When you feel your boys are ready, might fit your needs. It is completely free. As you start to delve deeper into HSing, you will see what fits and what doesn't and you can go from there.

AVeryHappyMama 09-27-2012 04:09 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
Oh, how could I forget! Calvert too!

What made me realize I preferred Flowering Baby was knowing the style of learning that fit my son (he likes doing things with me, hands on play instead of paper work, lots of reading, playing in the yard, trips to the zoo/park/children's museum), how we lived, and I also like that similar to it was a multi-age curriculum. Think about how your children learn now, and how you want learning to look, and you'll easier find what fits your family.

JackieLyn 09-27-2012 06:28 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
Moving Beyond the Page is an excellent secular curriculum! I love it! I use it for my hands on learner :) My oldest uses Time4Learning because it works well with his learning type. I highly recommend Moving Beyond the Page though! Also, if I'm looking for reviews of curriculum, I just type in the curriculum name and "review" afterwards. A lot of blogs have reviews of curriculum (usually they get a kick back from the company). But it does help to get a feel for the programs.

*KaiMom* 09-27-2012 08:54 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
We aren't Christian and use Sonlight and Abeka, which are. It's very easy to skip or not buy those parts so don't dismiss religious cirriculum when looking. Also, has tons of layed out preschool programs that are easy to make secular.

tibeca 09-28-2012 12:44 PM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
I think you'll be less overwhelmed if you choose a learning/teaching style: classical, waldorf, charlotte mason, traditional, montessori, unschooling, etc.

I tried Before 5 in a Row. It is Christian, but SUPER easy to just ignore that part. This is VERY unstructured and not intense at all. My daughter is 4 and beginning reading, so it didn't fit us. She was doing 2 "units (which should last 1 week) in just 1 day. I think a 3 yo might like it better.

I used Oak Meadow Kindergarten. 100% secular. It is laid back and very reading intensive. I loved the feel of it. It felt right "in my heart" but wouldn't challenge my daughter unless I skipped to a 2nd grade curriculum. That didn't feel right. I did love the reading component though, and we have changed how we read stories to be more interactive.

We are currently using Mammoth Math 1st grade. They don't have a kindergarten. I feel like she is getting these concepts (addition, greater than/less than) but is missing out on some "core" concepts that she would get in Kindergarten math. She doesn't much love the constant work sheets without manipulatives.

We are doing Handwriting Without Tears for handwriting which she loves. It is low key, but really, too easy for her. But she isn't physically developed enough to be able to write well, so it is okay that the concepts are easy, even if the work is right where she is.

I am looking to try Math U See "primer" (kindergarten) to be sure we get those early concepts down in a more interactive way. I just haven't found it at a good price.

I picked up Horizon's Phonics for cheap, so we will try that and see how it goes. It is Christian based, but I haven't seen the curriculum yet to know whether I will mind.

I recently picked up "Connect the Thoughts." It is all digital, and secular. It is supposed to be read X to student, do Y. I am ignoring that, and just using it as a baseline, for each topic. I LOVE the safety units and creative "writing". I didn't love Science I, but it wasn't bad. We'll just rush through parts of it. It has a "history" component that I look forward to, too. I also picked up their Halloween unit which I'm excited to start next week. All in all, a decent price, but doesn't include math or reading. It is on sale until Sunday for anyone interested.

All in all, I've figured out I am a Waldorf mom trying to keep up with a more "unit studies" kid. I haven't found a unit studies curriculum that really fits us, so I am allowing "connect the thoughts" to guide us with ideas and the library to provide the rest. Since DD1 won't be 5 until April, we have lots of time to figure this all out.

daenikoffre 09-29-2012 02:09 AM

Re: Curriculum choices? Overwhelmed...
We favor US, but lead a Waldorf-inspired lifestyle.

It's all about just finding what suits your family, mama. No pressure. Just get a feel for it and see what works for you. GL!

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