Hey all you wonderful people! I’m back to talk homeschool curriculum! I have had many chats with other homeschoolers in our area, visited a homeschool curriculum fair, and done TONS and TONS of research online. And here are my choices. Because I am new to this, and not super confident as a teacher yet, I opted for a few things that are open and go (AAR & RSM)* and a few more open ended things. Also, because its only Kindergarten, I’m not going as crazy as I would have liked to. There was some SERIOUS self censure happening. After visiting the curriculum fair, I wanted to buy ALL the curriculum!!
Keep in mind that each state has different requirements for homeschooling and there are multiple websites to help you determine which rules you must follow. I’ll try to find some links and add them, but honestly, there are other blogs that are probably better suited for a “this is how you start homeschooling” person than mine.
Ok, so the two most important subjects for me where Math and Reading, so that’s where I spent most of my budget. I opted for All About Reading (AAR)* for learning to read. Because this is a Orton-Gillingham style program, it is well suited for those with learning differences. It’s not the cheapest show in town, but it’s not the most expensive either. Plus they have thousands of amazing reviews and people that love it. Also, I really liked that from the very first lesson, students are able to read their first story in the supplied readers. Which for my son, was extremely motivating and made him hungry for more immediately! The teacher’s manual is written like a play script with stage directions (build the word “mat” with your tiles) and lines (place your finger under the word and say to your student – What is this word?). I bought this at the homeschool curriculum fair from Rainbow Resource Center for $119. That has everything you need to teach the course except for the letter tiles kit. You buy this once and use it for all levels. It was $20. They also have an iPad app that does the same thing for the same price. You don’t not need the deluxe kit with the bag and the card box. But if that’s what blows your dress up, do it!
Math was a harder decision. There are so many great ones to pick from. We finally decided to go with Right Start Math (RSM)*. They have a unique approach to teaching math that encourages a lot of mental math and picturing numbers in a unique way that is nothing short of spectacular! It’s a bit labor intensive for the teacher, since each lesson is meant to be 1 on 1. The program is also a bit on the pricey side, but definitely not the most costly one out there. It is highly researched by Dr. Joan Cotter who has a Masters in curriculum and instruction and a PhD in mathematics education. Each teacher’s manual/student workbook combo is around $90. The manual is reusable for other kids, you just need a new student workbook. Then there are several options for manipulative kits. You only need to buy this once and then you will have everything you need for every single math level. (Math Curriculums are really intimidating in this way, because you feel like it’s a long term commitment and you’re not sure if you will love it. So make sure you do your research, but also know that everything has pretty good resale value on curriculum swaps or eBay.)
The deluxe “includes everything” manipulative kit is somewhere in the neighborhood of $250. But has a lot of things that most people have laying around the house already (like coins, calculator, popsicle sticks, mirror, and others) so they also offer a “Super saver” for $150 that leaves out all of these items and even includes some “printable” items. Guess which one this chick went for? Yea Super Saver all the way. We bought it at the homeschool curriculum convention and they were offering a Convention Discount. So all told we made it out of there for about $240.
It sounds like a lot I know. I am a big time budget shopper, so this hurt a little. Recently I have been accused of have “bougie” (sp?) taste when it comes to curriculum. But I like to think of it as an investment into my children’s minds. I know, I know, more expensive doesn’t always mean better….but I absolutely love the way Right Start teaches you to “think like a mathematician”. I mean, what is the chief complaint of all people that hate math? “I’m just not a math person” or “It just doesn’t click with me” or even “I just don’t get it”. Not so with this program (supposedly). If you do what they ask of you, and don’t try to bypass bits in the lessons (ask me how I know this – We started with skipping the first 20 lessons since they seemed to only cover teaching numbers 1-10, which my son already knew. But there were a ton of little gems hidden in those lessons about strategies for using the abacus, and using mental math to group numbers. So we had to go back and cover all of those before we moved on).
For Social Studies I fount this cute little “social studies notebook” on Teachers Pay Teachers (which is another really great place to find great and inexpensive curriculum). Each little mini unit came with book recommendations that we would get form the library every week and read, and then do the activity.
“PE” was playing outside – lets not overcomplicate this right?
And for music we sing and I am trying to teach him how to play the ukulele with free YouTube videos!
I also decided to add a handwriting curriculum as well. And after trying a few cheap workbooks, I caved and purchased the Logic of English Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive edition. There is some really great information on their website about why starting with cursive is better and easier. Ill leave that to you to read and research on your own. But it made an impression on me and I have been happy with the results so far.
We are a month into this adventures and we are very excited to continue! I plan to update you maybe every 6 months? Let me know if you have questions or want more updates!