Help me find my perfect curriculum :) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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We tried out the public cyber charter this year (K12) and it's just okay.  The curriculum itself is fine, some more worthwhile than others, but dd is not loving the constant testing, worksheets, etc.  If her dad agrees (we are not together), I am hoping to either pull her out after Christmas or at least make a different plan for 2nd grade next year.


I think I've been researching curriculum since dd was 2!  I have an idea of what I want, but haven't been able to find it and don't think I have the time/am creative enough to put it together myself.  Thoughts and suggestions would be very much appreciated.  I am on a pretty tight budget, but woudn't mind using a chunk of my tax return if I found the perfect curriculum.


Ideally, I would like a literature based curriculum-dd and I both love stories (she is still a beginner reader, but loves to be read to).  We tried Five in a Row and I liked the format in general, but it had some limitations.


I'd like a curriculum that makes sense long term-i.e., I like unit studies, but I would want them to build on each other and to give me a framework from the beginning of the year to the end.  That is one thing I *do* like about the charter, there is a clear and cohesive plan and the lessons build on each other.


I want something that makes sense together as a whole-I don't like that K12 feels very choppy with a distinct break between subjects.


Dd really likes art and science is a very kinetic learner. If she could listen to a story while coloring and then do a science experiement based on the story for school, she'd be very happy :)  She does need some extra phonics/reading practice, and I'd be okay doing some of that separately, but she also learns best by doing, so I'd love to have more reading/writing practice incorporated. I love the idea of the waldorf main lesson books, and that approach really makes sense to me and is something I'd like to incorporate.


I need something that adheres to state standards to some degree-I don't want to be accused of neglecting her education (and we've learned this year that she is not a great test taker to begin with), especially when it comes to custody.


Oh, and I also have a 3-year-old son, so bonus points if I can easily tie in preschool activities :)


Thoughts? Thanks everyone!

Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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#2 of 7 Old 12-08-2013, 07:59 PM
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I'm not sure what exactly you are looking for or how tight the budget is but reading your desires reminded of me of what I've heard about "Moving Beyond the Page".  I've not tried this curriculum yet myself but have heard great things about it.  It is secular, literature based, and ties language arts, science, and social studies together in units. You might want to check out the review/discription here:  I think you can buy just the curriculum guides and use the library for the books.  There's also a lot of info on their website:  


Have you considered piecing together curriculum from different sources for different subjects?  This can be cheaper and easier to ditch what you don't like without having to get rid of the entire curriculum.  

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#3 of 7 Old 01-10-2014, 03:12 PM
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Khan Academy is free, and great.


Always Ice Cream and Clever Dragons are paid fun educational sites my daughter and son enjoy, and once a year or so in the fall and at the holidays, they offer a family lifetime membership deal that is good. The free trial can show you if it's something you'd like. My DD got it when she was 6, and is 9 and still likes it. It has creative activities, social aspects (moderated chat), learning activities (if you like quiz-type) and safe, vetted Youtube videos of interest. It's secure and ad-free. Religious education is limited to Christian or Jewish, but is also an option that you can turn off. They now have a special homeschooling reporting feature for an additional price that gives you all the report cards, progress reports, etc that you'd need, to turn it into a curriculum and reporting tool all in one. Some people don't like that there is one for girls, and one for boys, but for my kids, they like that aspect a lot. We're one of the few secular homeschoolers there, from what I can tell. But it's ok.


A yearly family membership to a local Children's Discovery Museum is worth its weight and a great bargain over daily admission, and great for letting them get their fun and social yayas out, as well as science learning. Ours even has a lot of classes and workshops just for homeschoolers.


It's pricey, but I would LOVE to get Pandia Press for my kids. Written by homeschool moms with advanced degrees in sciences and/or current or former careers in those areas, it is free of fluff, not dumbed down (see the Bio 2 Try Before You Buy PDF download!) and about as expensive as college textbooks, so not cheap, but great stuff, imho.


Most people say, don't spend any real money on anything all-inclusive or school-in-a-box because those have the highest rate of buyer's remorse.


secular homeschooler dot com has a really good curriculum review area and curriculum discussion area on the forums, and The Well Trained Mind also has such that is more aligned with the Classical homeschool or Charlotte Mason types.


Hope this helps!

Older Homeschooling mom with 4 kids, born cesarean, HBAC, HWBAC, and unmedicated VBAC in hospital after age 40.
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#4 of 7 Old 01-16-2014, 09:02 PM
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I bought Moving Beyond the Page for our first year of homeschooling.  I like it okay and it sounds like something you would really like.  I don't think its that expensive for all the great books you get, though you can just get the books at the library or on amazon for cheaper.  We have ended up skipping a lot of fluff and expanding on other things - especially the social studies which I find light, dry and very.... patriotic.

Midwife, Mama
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#5 of 7 Old 02-10-2014, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! I somehow missed the replies-I appreciate the input!


I have considered Moving Beyond the Page several times over the years, but I don't love the samples etc. enough to spend that much. 


I will definitely check out the suggestions.  I'm definitely leaning more towards piecing together my own plan-this is what I have so far:


Story of the World

Sassafras Science

Right Start Math (I've used it and we liked it, very hands on).

Explode the Code workbooks for extra phonics and to give me ideas of phonics lessons if she doesn't want to sit down and do the actual pages. 

Literature lists from Ambleside and similar.

Lots of choosing level appropriate readers from the library for her to read aloud!


I already own the math program, and the rest isn't terribly expensive.  I'd love any other suggestions! I'm excited to go back to our own thing  :)

Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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#6 of 7 Old 02-12-2014, 08:31 AM
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A really great publisher of Language Arts-based programs is Zaner-Bloser. Every single one of the programs is really strong and they do go seamlessly together since they all build upon the same skills: writing, reading, spelling, vocabulary, grammar. They are aligned with the common core state standards but I don’t think any lessons feel too stiff or unnatural for a young learner. You can request samples and browse through the website. I’d definitely suggest focusing on the workbooks they offer, maybe focusing on reading (this is really good because although students who like to read usually like reading fiction and fantasy, they will need to be able to read non-fiction as they get older), and writing (I really like how the lessons are based on the different kinds of writing that are very relevant, essays, narratives, etc.)  

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#7 of 7 Old 02-12-2014, 12:21 PM
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I think the best curriculum is one you build yourself, like you are doing!


I bought Moving Beyond the Page and can't bring myself to use it.  We tried to start it over a year ago, I think both my children and I were not ready for something so structured.  I found it to be a lot of book work and I was looking for something more literature based that promoted creative thinking.  Now that my oldest dd is older maybe we'll give it another try....or maybe I'll sell it.


I really liked Five in Row.  We've only used the first book (but I have the second) and I did not use it exactly as suggested.  You get one book that has a a list of books and activity suggestions to accompany each book (geograprhy, art, music, social studies, math, etc).  It says to read the same book five days in a row (Mon to Fri) and each day you pick one activity to do.  You can easily expand on ideas and stretch out different learning opportunities.  It is based on well written literature and there many activities per book to choose from which means you can gear it toward you child's interest and level of understanding.

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