One of my favorite things to research is the curriculum choices of other homeschool moms. It can also be one of the most daunting things to have to research because there is SO MUCH chatter out there about it. In this midyear curriculum review, I’m going to show you what we use and let you know how it’s going so far.
CORE CURRICULUM CHOICES
We are going to keep this very simple, ok? For reference, my kids that are being homeschooled right now are six and seven years old. My six year old is in kindergarten and my seven year old is in first grade. We held him back a year when we were still planning to send them to public school.
This is our second year homeschooling and for both years we have used the same curriculum. We decided to go with The Good and The Beautiful for language arts, handwriting and math in our first year. We saw so much growth over the first year and liked the flow of the lessons, so we decided to continue with them for our second year to give that foundation a good chance to get set.
THOUGHTS AFTER OUR FIRST YEAR WITH LANGUAGE ARTS
During our first year, we had one child in pre-k and another in kindergarten. The kindergarten language arts course is a bit advanced for that age. The course book even tells you that. However, if they go through the pre-k level from TGTB they will be ready. Just be sure you read the beginning of the book thoroughly and take the readiness assessment seriously.
I remember telling my husband at the beginning of year one that one obvious mistake I could potentially make would be to push my oldest son too far too fast.
Since we hadn’t intended to homeschool and our oldest son was attending a local Montessori preschool, he wasn’t ready for it. By the time he started kindergarten he was really only familiar with the look and sound of about half the letters. This was an eye-opening discovery that was one of our first little moments that ended up leading to homeschool.
So, we started his kindergarten year by working through the pre-k level and then did about half of the kindergarten prep course until I felt confident, he had a good handle on his letters. Then we moved him to the kindergarten book and finished that for his first year.
This was the best decision I made throughout that entire year. I thoroughly believe he likes school so much more than he would if I had kept him frustrated by trying to stay “on grade level.”
Because we did that, he did great stepping into the kindergarten curriculum and made it to the end of the year showing SO MUCH growth and improvement.
Obviously, with the experience with our oldest it was a no brainer to take our middle son’s pre-k year seriously and he loved it.
The lessons were quick and easy and by the end of the year he was ready for the kindergarten course.
THOUGHTS AFTER OUR FIRST YEAR WITH MATH
We LOVE the math curriculum! It doesn’t seem nearly as advanced as the language arts course, but still feels that they are learning exactly the right amount for their ages. My kids love the flow of the lessons and are able to grasp the new concepts quickly. They cycle the material to give them great opportunities for review.
I’ve noticed in our homeschool journey that the several times we’ve had to break for family reasons the kids were able to pick it right back up without needing to be retaught. They honestly do this for language arts and math really well.
This tells me that they aren’t simply memorizing to get through with a task. They are actually learning what we are studying. And I LOVE seeing this. It is one of the reasons we deeply value having the opportunity to homeschool.
The math curriculums come with boxes of manipulatives that the kids all love to play with and the books themselves actually are beautiful and engaging.
MIDYEAR REVIEW FOR LANGUAGE ARTS AND MATH CURRICULUM
At the time I’m writing this, we are halfway through our second year of using The Good and The Beautiful curriculum for our second year now. Overall, I’m still very pleased with it!
The kids really do well with the workload and the flow of the lessons. They use a good ratio of new material and review work for our family, so the kids are grasping the material well.
They create it to be beautiful, fun and engaging. We really enjoy the little games they include! However, if there is ever a day where we just need less, we skip that, and it still works.
They offer a ton of opportunities for reading practice through booster cards, practice books and additional books you can buy. I love that the practice books show you in the table of contents which lessons they correlate to. This makes it possible for the kids to practice the specific skills without having anything too advanced tossed in there. It also gives them several options to use so the practice doesn’t get redundant or boring.
We are still in our very early years, so I like to do these subjects one on one. This helps me to be sure they aren’t rushed in their work. By doing this, I hope they are setting up a solid foundation. I also kind of cherish getting them one on one.
I like that it’s challenging but is taught in a way that is really gentle and effective. When we work through the things we struggle on and hit those moments of breakthrough there is just nothing sweeter. Celebrating those things with the boys has been one of my favorite parts of homeschooling so far.
In addition to TGTB, we have been part of Classical Conversations for both of years homeschooling. We LOVE CC! We have all formed wonderful friendships and have really gravitated to the learning style of CC.
If you aren’t familiar with Classical Conversations, it’s a curriculum that teaches math, english, science, history, timeline of the world, geography and latin through the classical education model.
We focus on memorizing facts that act as pegs in a board so that over time they connect together in a giant wealth of information. I work through the weekly memory work with the kids, but don’t require much beyond that because they are so young.
Even still, it’s been amazing to see the subjects they gravitate toward and the amount they commit to memory even when they don’t appear to be paying attention.
The layout of CC is two 12-week semesters where we meet as a community once per week. The kids have a class and a tutor, so they are getting to have some practice following instructions in a different environment. In addition to those seven subjects mentioned above each community day includes a hands-on science project and a fine arts project.
Each child is also responsible for bringing a presentation for their class, presenting it and then taking live questions immediately following their presentation. At these young ages, it looks a lot like “show and tell,” but the skill they are developing are priceless. It’s been really fun to watch them learn to actively listen better and see their confidence speaking in front of people grow considerably.
We’ve loved everything CC offers so much that I decided to tutor our second year in the program.
IS THIS ALL I USE
I’ll be honest, in the beginning of the year, I had much greater plans. I bought additional curriculum for history from Gather Round. It was wonderful! I bought science bundles from Learning with Friends. They were fantastic. We bought and used an extra science curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful and loved it as well.
The kids were in multiple extracurricular activities, and it was all rolling very smoothly. Until my MIL went on hospice at the end of her cancer journey. Grief is a weird beast, my friends. It’s been a very difficult year to say the least.
So, rolling into the last half of the year fresh out of that trying season, we are only doing what is absolutely required by the state and adding in CC. We follow the schedule I walked you through making in this post now and its more than enough until we are back on our feet.
In a weird way, I’m already ready for the next school year just for the fresh start it will bring. However, we have a lot left to conquer this year before we are able to enjoy that. We will work our way back to all the extras because it sincerely felt as though we were all thriving with that schedule. But for now, this is just where we are. I’m learning that healing slowly is good. It’s still healing. The kids and I have each handled this differently and that requires a massive amount of grace.
WHEN WILL I CHOOSE NEXT YEAR’S CURRICULUM
I want to say that last year TGTB had a pretty special sale sometime in the spring. I will more than likely go ahead and start making my lists for that sale soon. As for the extras? I will start researching more things like Gather Round and unit studies by Home and Haven to see what I like for next year. I will be sure post on that as soon as I make some decisions. In addition to those places, I like to watch Campfire Curriculum and Learning with Friends.
We are only into our second year, so I’m sure as I start looking into it, I will discover other great places full of wonderful resources.
Thank you for stopping by my friends! I would love to hear what you use in your homeschool and if you like it or not.