By Erendira Ramirez-Ortega, Crosswalk.com
If you homeschool, you know that the question of curriculum is always on your mind. Every year you plan, considering the best and most fitting sources of learning for your children.
You may even enjoy this part of the homeschool, when a new year arrives, and you are on the hunt for the next best curriculum available within your budget and reach. You attend conventions, join homeschool groups, and sell or buy online, gently used, or traded books, readers, manipulatives, and all things curriculum.
This list is meant to be more general that specific, so scroll down to find out more about the following categories as it pertains to curriculum: the best homeschool curriculum, the most inexpensive curriculum, and the best workbook-based curriculum for Christian families. You may see some overlap, so take that as a bonus!
In no particular order:
Best Homeschool Curriculum
1. The Good and the Beautiful: This curriculum emphasizes family, God, high character, nature, and wholesome literature. This curriculum requires no daily prep time—just open the book and follow the instructions, learning and exploring along with your child. It is a family style which combines multiple subjects, which connects learning and eliminates the need for six to seven different courses. They have a thorough phonics reading program and advanced courses which leave no gaps. It is inexpensive and workbook based.
2. Apologia: Apologia is a Christ-centered, award-winning homeschool curriculum provider. Their mission is to help homeschooling students and families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith through print and digital curriculum and online classes.
3. Beautiful Feet Books: Teacher Guides and Literature packs are strong here. Their vision is to help homeschool parents ignite wonder and connect with their kids through the best stories and guided lessons. To accomplish this vision, they create, develop, and publish Charlotte Mason-inspired history and literature curriculum and teacher's guides to help parents fulfill their desire to read the best books, foster a curiosity-driven learning environment, and develop deep relationships with their kids.
4. Master Books: Homeschool parents appreciate the affordability, flexibility, and practicality of Master Books. It offers a Charlotte Mason inspired approach to learning with living lessons, captivating pictures, engaging stories and assignments. Its mission is to increase the reader’s faith in God and the authority of His Word. They offer Apologetics and Creation materials. They are workbook based, but not too heavy on the busywork, which leaves ample time for exploring deeper while encouraging hands-on reinforcement activities. A very Biblically-based curriculum with an economical price tag (approximately $30 per subject for lower elementary) and a relaxed fun pace. Books are identified by level, not grades, so you elect which level your child learner is at.
5. Abeka: This one is a quite rigorous approach to learning. It is accelerated in all levels. Cursive writing is a milestone in the K4 grade level. When you choose Abeka, you can count on proven, time-tested academic excellence along with a biblical worldview, so your children can be fully prepared for the future. They offer textbooks, video lessons, teaching aids, and more.
6. My Father's World: My Father's World Christian homeschool curriculum combines the best of Charlotte Mason's ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a biblical worldview and global focus. By always keeping God’s Word central, they partner with you to provide life-transforming, academic excellence with a Christian worldview.
7. Heart of Dakota: Heart of Dakota publishes a Christian homeschool curriculum that is easy to use, flexible, educational and can also be used with multiple ages at the same time. Our desire is to help homeschool teachers have a successful experience from the very beginning, while keeping God's Word at the heart of their children's academic training.
Most Inexpensive Christian Homeschool Curriculum
1. Easy Peasy: This curriculum offers materials for all grades (Pre-K to High School). It is free and online, or you can purchase the offline curriculum (workbook based). This curriculum is said to be structured at an accelerated pace.
2. Christian Light: The math and language is said to be top-notch, but some may find the reading solid, but a bit dry. It is a workbook-based Christian curriculum that has worked very well for many families. The lessons are quick, easy to follow, and they have plenty of review sections that you can skip if you feel your child already has a good grasp on the material. It is a Mennonite curriculum, so some of the material might not address certain cultural themes; however, its simplicity is quite refreshing as opposed to the flashy color counterparts.
3. Gather ‘Round Homeschool: This one is all-inclusive (except math) for every grade level. It offers Charlotte Mason style unit studies and is beautifully presented. They offer free samples. It is an inexpensive Christian curriculum that presents a topic every month. The units cover Pre-K through 12 in all subjects except for math. Gather 'Round Homeschool is just the dream of a homeschool mom who wanted everything beautiful and cohesive and to teach all her kids together but needed the structure and solidity of engaging and challenging work that was tangible.
4. Lamp and Quill: Lamp & Quill develops and publishes Bible Studies and Devotional Bible Study material for all ages. These studies cover most books of the Bible over six years on a chapter-by-chapter basis, including threads and themes throughout. The focus is on learning to think about Scripture and getting to know the God of the Bible in a personal way as our Savior, our joy, our daily hope and our hope for the future.
5. Rod and Staff: Built to the glory of God, Rod and Staff Publishers supplies Christian homes and schools with Bible-based textbooks and literature that impart truth and that in no way compromise the Word of God. They provide sound Gospel literature useful for instruction and guidance in Christian ideals. They provide food for the reading diet, not detracting from the Scriptures or supplanting them, but reinforcing them with application. "Give attendance to reading" suggests that the mind should be constantly occupied profitably rather than idly. They regard this task seriously, believing that Christians should read literature that obligates the reader to the Lord.
6. Queen Homeschool Supplies: They have published award-winning books and curriculum geared toward the Charlotte Mason style educator. Their products are geared toward the child so there is no need for a teacher’s guide or manual. This allows both parent and child to develop interests outside of school time, as well as having the time to pursue them with a love for learning.
Best Workbook Based Homeschool Curriculum for Christian Families
Workbook based curriculum is certainly not for every student learner. It is important to describe workbooks as learning materials in which students read and answer questions: fill in the blank, multiple choice, essay questions, matching, etc. While workbooks facilitate learning independently and can be utilized as travel companions and supplemental education, not all learners can adapt well to this style.
1. Landmark Freedom Baptist Curriculum: This one not only offers a full line curriculum for preschool through 12th grade, but also offers an Academy service allowing homeschoolers to earn an official transcript and accredited diploma. They offer complete subject sets containing 36 weeks, plus weekly quizzes and answer keys. No need for lesson plans or teacher’s guides.
2. Math U See: Math-U-See is designed to teach students specific skills that build as the student progresses. This systematic and cumulative approach uses a definite, logical sequence of concept instruction. The Math-U-See system is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts. Each lesson uses multi-sensory tools such as videos, manipulatives, and other resources, designed to appeal to any type of learner. With these resources, they can adapt to a variety of homeschool styles.
3. Bob Jones University Press: BJU Press is a publisher of textbooks and video lessons. They’re committed to creating materials that help parents deliver an education that is based on sound educational principles, inspires a joy in learning, and is rooted in a solid biblical worldview. As mastery and perspective increase, so does the desire to learn and create. As Proverbs 14:6 says, "knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth."
4. Saxon Math: Saxon math, developed by John Saxon, is a teaching method for incremental learning of mathematics. It involves teaching a new mathematical concept every day and constantly reviewing old concepts.
5. Accelerated Christian Education (ACE): A.C.E. has taken a conventionally styled textbook and divided it into bite-sized workbooks called PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) which are full of self-instructional activities designed to develop thinking skills and create mastery learning. Accelerated Christian Education is a Bible-based, Christian K–12 curriculum, consisting of reading programs, core curriculum, required electives, and additional instruction programs. Some courses are enhanced with CDs, DVDs, and computer software.
As you set goals for your children’s education, keeping in mind their learning styles, their weaknesses, their strengths, you will certainly find something fitting for your children. You may have a student at every level (lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school) so be very aware of what their needs are, what your budget allows, and what type of materials you will find most useful for each of your learners.
There are many more beyond this list and your due diligence is required to find the right choice but remain flexible as you may need to peruse several resources before you find the right fit for your family.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Annie Spratt