Our Journey to Find the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

by Rodna James

One mom tells the story of her journey to find the perfect curriculum for her family, and shares several homeschool curriculum reviews too! Read her story now...

Hi! My name is Rodna and I am a homeschooling mom of two. We began our homeschooling journey almost eight years ago. My oldest is now entering the 7th grade and my youngest is four.

When we began using a more formal curriculum, in the 4th grade, I was overwhelmed at the thought of having to pick the right curriculum for my daughter's education. I did not want to make a mistake; after all, this is her education we are talking about.

So, after all of my looking around I decided that using the LifePacs would be perfect. They had a teacher's guide and ten student workbooks in each box. Everything we needed for that particular subject for that school year was included. Perfect, I thought.

I knew that she would be taught everything she needed to know for that school year. I did not have to worry about missing anything. I thought this would be wonderful... until we started using it!

It was so boring and it required a lot of writing, which really made it take a long time to finish our lessons.

It also skipped around the topics a lot. For instance in the same geography workbook, one day it would be geographical terms, the next day it would be famous explorers, and the next day it would be about outer space.

It never really went into enough detail to actually remember anything we learned. So, when it came to testing time, she couldn't remember anything we had leaned. I will say that their math was not too bad but it did not expand very much within a year.

We do really love their Drawing Basics! It is taught on a DVD by Thomas Kinkade. It is very well done.

So, how did we get through a whole year of using LifePacs? Well, we really did badly with staying on schedule, as we both dreaded it so much, so much so, we got behind during that 4th grade year.

When we hit the 5th grade year and we were still in the 4th grade LifePacs, I knew we had to do something. Something had to change.

I went online and offered to sell all of my LifePacs, except the math, because we had used a lot of it, and sold it to a lady who loved LifePacs. They seem to work well for some, they just did not fit me or my daughter's personality, I guess.

So, after I sold my LifePacs, I was off to Mardel! I had been looking at a lot of friend's school books during this time and had a good idea of what I wanted.

First thing I bought was The Mystery of History; this curriculum is great! It is chronological in order and it included bible history as well. We do a timeline along with it and we really enjoy it. It has short lessons and activities with each lesson that you can choose from, depending on your children's age.

I can't speak highly enough about this curriculum. It is very well written and engages the children, as well as the adults!

(Before the children are old enough to use MOH we use Christian Liberty Press for their history. It is fabulous for little ones.)

on my list to buy was Apologia Science! We love Apologia science. We use the elementary series. There are several to choose from: Zoology 1- Flying Creatures of the fifth day, Zoology 2- Swimming Creatures of the 5th day, Zoology 3- Land Animal of the 6th day, >i>Astronomy and Botany. They are also coming out with a Physics and Anatomy book also! These are so well written. It is like the author is speaking to the children.

At the end of each chapter the children notebook what they have learned. There are also periodical places where the child is asked to narrate what they have learned to a parent. This really helps to reinforce what they have learned. You really study one aspect of science for six months to a year. This way your child comes out truly understanding what he has learned. In my opinion, there is absolutely no better science curriculum out there.

A Child's Geography is very similar to Apologia but with geography. There is narration and notebooking involved in this curriculum as well. Finally, it is not boring to learn geography! As of now there are two books in the series: Exploring His Earth and Exploring the Holy Land. These are both great!

We tried using copywork for our writing and grammar and spelling for a while, but it just was not working for us. Finally we went to Easy Grammar and it really is easy! It is easy to teach and it is easy for the children to understand. My daughter loves grammar now and asks to do extra almost every day!

We used the Sylvan spelling books and wow, her spelling really took off! She had so much trouble with spelling but as we started using the Sylvan books, her spelling capability really grew.

We now use Bob Jones for math and we like it because it has just enough review without going overboard and the kids don't get bored from doing the same thing over and over. It is very colorful and the teachers guide really makes it easy to teach.

We also do some other fun things like lapbooking but this pretty much sums up our homeschooling journey, as far as curriculum goes. I can tell you that the curriculum we are currently using will be the same for the rest of our school years. It feels really great to know that you are on track, that the kids can have fun and really enjoy their school work at the same time. I feel like we have finally found what truly works for our family.

Rodna, thanks for sharing your journey to find the best curriculum for your family with us. You are right, each family and child is different. What works for some, may not work for others. Isn’t it wonderful that we have such a wide variety of options to choose from? I do agree with you regarding the LifePacs for younger children; I didn't start using them until they were closer to high school age.

You have listed some great resources that others can look at for their family – Apologia, Easy Grammar, etc. Thanks for sharing how they work with your family and what you like and dislike about each. Wishing you many blessings as you continue on your homeschooling journey, Heather. P.S. We love lapbooking too! :)

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Mar 19, 2012
by: Lisa

I'm inspired by the journey you shared in finding the perfect curriculum. Can you share more about which books and supplemental items you've found helpful for each of the curriculums you're using? I was looking at MOH and there are A LOT of supplements.

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