Use these homeschool curriculum reviews to help you determine the best curriculum for your family.
I don’t know if it’s my Type A personality or what, but one of my favorites parts of our homeschool year is getting to choose our curriculum. It’s second only to planning.
I love everything about it: perusing through homeschool catalogs and online stores; writing list after list of resource ideas for each subject; observing my kids working diligently all day, everyday because they just can’t get enough of the curriculum I chose. (Ok, in all honesty, that last one has not happened–yet.)
It makes my teacher heart beat with joy!
Every homeschool year is a new beginning. A chance to find books that will leave an impression in your child’s mind forever. If you are like me, you take that responsibility very seriously and want to choose only the best for those little minds.
How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum
How do you choose homeschool curriculum? Where can you find the perfect one? Well, you can’t exactly. There is no perfect curriculum. But the best curriculum is what fits your family’s needs.
What does your family need this school year; what does each individual child need? To answer those questions, think about your current season of life.
Are you new to homeschooling? Will you be welcoming a new baby during the year? Then perhaps a boxed curriculum set that is ready to go will best fit your needs. Do you want to choose based on each individual child’s strengths and weaknesses? Maybe you’d prefer picking and choosing your own curriculum then.
Along with your season of life, ponder which homeschool teaching method works best for your family. Knowing that and how your children learn best will also help determine which curriculum you use.
Many curriculum resources exist for homeschoolers: secular, religious, traditional, hands-on, and living books to name a few. There’s no way I can share them all for you. But what I can do is share homeschool curriculum reviews of what has worked for my family, and hopefully you can use it as a guide for your own family.
Please note that my family is Catholic, so several (but certainly not all) curriculum we use is Catholic-based. Also, I tend to be Eclectic in my teaching method, so you’ll see curriculum here that fits mostly Traditional, Charlotte Mason, and Classical methods, though we do occasionally use Unit Studies. Additionally, remember that what works for my family may not work for yours. I am only sharing these resources as a guide to what we like, not a promise that you will have the same results, though I hope you do.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
Homeschool Curriculum Reviews of Our Favorites
I’ve mostly been having my preschooler learn through play. We read a lot, he enjoys hands-on activities like sensory bins, and he participates in a lot of our morning basket activities. However, after seeing the Before Five in a Row, I decided to do this program with him as well. He really enjoys having “schoolwork” to do, and we were already reading many of these books. I like that they already have activities planned out for me to extend the books, so it’s one less thing I need to plan.
I had the chance to review Sonlight Preschool, which is a great open and go curriculum. It uses lots of great literature and hands-on learning, which is exactly what I love doing for preschool. You can check out my review to see what it’s about.
In addition to Before Five in a Row, my preschooler also loves his music class from Clap for Classics! This music program is designed specifically for kids aged 0-5, so it’s perfect for preschoolers. They offer specific courses, like Peter and the Wolf, or a monthly subscription course that is themed and also includes live weekly Zoom classes. These courses are a fun way to introduce your little ones to classical music. You can find out more about the online classical music classes offered through Clap for Classics! in a review I wrote.
We currently use online math curriculum. This allows me time to focus on my youngest while my older kids are working through their math lessons. Also, math is not a favorite among my children, which breaks my heart because I love it, so having someone else teach it works well for us.
However, my daughter enjoyed Saxon math the best when she was homeschooled. She liked having a book and writing everything down on paper. So definitely think of your children’s learning styles when you choose curriculum.
- Saxon Math: The material is presented in a spiral approach, with new concepts woven among older ones in daily lessons. We’ve used Saxon 54 up to Algebra I. Homeschool sets can be purchased that contain the textbook, solutions manual, and a tests and worksheets book.
- Teaching Textbooks: Another spiral program, but completely online. All work is taught and graded online. It’s nice being able to help each of my boys at the same time as they work through their online lessons. This saves us time because I don’t have to teach math separately. You can find out more information in my Teaching Textbooks 4.0 review.
- MCP Mathematics: This book has a traditional approach of lessons covering one concept a day with problems only on that concept. My younger son has used this book for a few years and has strong math skills.
- CTCMath: This is another online math curriculum, but with more of a traditional approach. My oldest son really enjoys working online for math, and this program has been a hit for both of my sons–and for me. It’s easy to use, and one of the things I like about this is being able to go between grades for lessons, which makes it great for review of concepts that your child isn’t quite grasping. Find out more about the benefits of an online math program. You can see my CTCMath review for more information.
- Life of Fred: I’m so glad I decided to try this series! These are such fun books about a 5-year-old college professor named Fred. Each book is divided into chapters, with each chapter telling a story about Fred and explaining the math problems that come up in his life.
The elementary level books start at Apples and go to Jelly Beans. We are currently on the third book, Cats. Books are also available for upper elementary through high school, though we haven’t tried those yet.
Many homeschoolers do manage to use these books as a complete curriculum. But we use them as a supplement during our morning time.
We read one chapter a week. At the end of the chapter is a “Your Turn to Play” section with a few problems relating to those in the day’s story. I read the problems to them, they put their answers in their assignment notebooks, and then we go over the answers together.
I follow a more Classical approach to our history by teaching history in chronological order. I add in a dash of Charlotte Mason by using living books to supplement our history as well.
- The Story of the World: We used these books the first few years of homeschooling. The books are from a Christian viewpoint and are enjoyable to read. We also enjoyed many activities from the activity books that you can purchase separately for each volume.
- The Story of Civilization: When we came around to Ancient History again, I decided to purchase a new Catholic curriculum instead. This program is very similar to The Story of the World, but from a Catholic viewpoint. The boys and I listen to the audiobook a couple of times each week. We loved the activities found in the activity book as well.
- Homeschool History: This resource is a great supplement to any homeschool history curriculum, or none at all. The creators of Notgrass History put together a searchable database to be able to find child-friendly videos, websites, books and more. You can see more about this resource in my YouTube review. If you enjoy supplementing your history curriculum like I do, then you’ll definitely want to sign up for their free trial!
Along with using those books as our spine, we also read aloud from chapter books that include the same time period.
- Memoria Press: My oldest son loves geography, so we always add state or country studies to our curriculum. I’ve found the geography books from Memoria Press to be comprehensive and I appreciate the review books to use the year following each program.
Many different techniques can be used to teach geography. For instance, the year I had a newborn was just too crazy to add a geography course. Instead, the kids got a blank map of a particular country. They filled in every country they knew and checked them against a completed map. Each day they would try to add more countries from memory.
Geography can also be as simple as locating places from literature on the map. This is a great technique to use with younger children to introduce them to the world. I think any extra knowledge our kids have of the world is a positive.
Science is the one subject I struggle with the most when it comes to finding curriculum. We have tried several that we liked.
- Apologia: These books are very popular among homeschoolers. We were introduced to them in a co-op and have used many books in the Young Explorer series. Find out more about Exploring Creation through Earth Science in this review. You can learn more about the benefits of Apologia in this Physical Science book review.
- College Prep Science: If you wish to have someone else help you teach science, using online classes from College Prep Science is a great option. You can find out more about their Young Scientist classes in my Physics class review. These online classes and interactive labs are also a great option for high school science. Be sure to check out the interactive virtual science labs too. My son loved the Biology/Anatomy & Physiology lab he took. You can see my review on five reasons we love these science courses.
- Science in the Ancient World by Berean Builders: I enjoyed this curriculum with my oldest son. Each lesson starts by reading about a particular scientist and then ends with a small experiment or activity regarding the lesson. The activities don’t take long and use materials found around the house. But in our particular season of life right now, it just isn’t a good fit. I may go back to this in a year or two when my youngest doesn’t need so much attention, especially if I can combine the boys.
- Memoria Press Mammals: The boys really enjoyed focusing on mammals for a year. I combined them for this subject, and we also added in some fun projects that kept learning fun. For this class, I read through the pages about that week’s animal at the beginning of the week. Then they each completed the corresponding pages in their student activity books one day, while filling in what they remembered about each animal on notebooking pages at the end of the week.
- Sonlight Science: If you want a literature-based, hands-on science curriculum, you should check out the updated Sonlight Science Discover and Do program. My youngest and I used the K level for Kindergarten and we both really enjoyed it. The curriculum includes wonderful picture books, a detailed instructor’s guide with activity sheets for your child, a science experiment book and access to online videos, and a supply kit with everything you need for the experiments. You can learn more in this Sonlight Science K review.
- Nature Study: If you follow a Charlotte Mason approach, you may have seen this lovely Julia Rothman collection. These books are not only gorgeous, but they are also very informative. An easy, child-led way to use these books is to chose a couple of pages per lesson your kids to read, or allow your kids to choose a topic of interest. Then they can summarize what they learned in their science notebooks, including illustrations.
- Exploring Nature with Children: This curriculum makes nature study with your children very easy to plan and follow through. It’s inexpensive and can be used year after year. I allow our preschooler to come and go with our nature study. For my older children, we try to go on a nature walk at the beginning of the week. Then we read a couple of books about our topic the next couple of days, usually trying to add in some kind of additional activity, like art, to it.
- Burgess Books: The books by Thornton W. Burgess are wonderful for learning about animals in nature. A couple of years ago we read through The Burgess Bird Book for Children during our Morning Time, using this Learning About Birds companion guide from Simply Charlotte Mason. The Burgess Animal Book for Children complements the Mammals book mentioned above.
- Seton: We use Seton as our core English curriculum. We use their English, Handwriting, and Phonics books every year.
Our first year of homeschooling, I followed a Traditional teaching method and fully enrolled the kids in Seton Home Study School. I used to teach in a Catholic school before kids, and I felt most comfortable starting our homeschooling journey with this program as it is similar to the material I taught. However, in the past few years, I’ve become more Eclectic and only choose the Seton books I like best, without enrolling. Their Language Arts books fall into that category.
Additional Grammar Supplement
- Fix It! Grammar: We fell in love with this book from IEW this year. I started using it mid-year with the boys, not expecting it to be well-received. Boy was I wrong! They love it! My oldest son even on his own decided to use his very best handwriting in his notebook so his story would look nice.
All of the book’s lessons together complete a story. Each week starts with a grammar topic, such as adverbs or possessives. Each day children read a sentence of the story, decide what punctuation is missing and make necessary fixes, define a vocabulary word, and mark certain parts of speech. It takes us about 15-20 minutes, four days a week, which we cover as part of our together time.
- WriteShop: Writing is a subject that can be difficult to teach, especially if your child doesn’t like to write. I’m so happy to have found WriteShop because it’s a homeschool writing program that is easy for both student and teacher. I like the step-by-step, detailed instructions that are found in both the Teacher’s Manual and Student Workbook. This program has books to help you teach writing for grades K-12. You can find out more in my WriteShop I review.
- All About Spelling: Spelling has consistently been a subject I’ve struggled to find a curriculum that works well for my boys. My older son, in particular, has difficulty with spelling and understanding the rules. We actually didn’t even use a spelling curriculum one year because I just couldn’t find one I thought would work. That changed when I gave All About Spelling a try! Since my boys are older, we’re going through the lessons very quickly (they recommend you start at level 1 even with older children so they learn all the rules.) Wow! I am amazed at how much fell through the cracks of the other curriculum we’ve tried. I’ll definitely continue using this for my boys, including my preschooler once he’s old enough.
- Vocabulary Word of the Day: We use this book to round out our English curriculum. Each day I write the next vocabulary word on our whiteboard and show the kids the day’s cartoon in the book. They try to figure out what the word means, and then I write the definition on the board. The book contains quizzes after every 10 words, so I keep the previous words on the side of the board and we review them each day until the quiz. I have used this as young as 3rd grade, though I didn’t expect him to get all of the quiz answers correct. He surprised me with what he retained though!
- Treasure Trove of Literature: This is a wonderful literature program from Catholic Heritage Curricula, or CHC. We used Volume 1 the first year it was available and will be continuing with Volume 2 since we enjoyed it so much.
The volume consists of 5 books that are good for 4th-6th grades, and each book covers about 20-30 lessons. The lessons cover vocabulary words, reading review questions, literary devices and elements, and parts of speech. Students also illustrate what they read in their notebooks. Ideas for games, projects and activities are given after every 5 lessons, with a final project at the end of each book.
- Seton’s Religion book is our main religion curriculum. It is a very solid, Catholic book that we have used every year of homeschooling.
- The Story of the Bible from TAN books is used for Bible history. I decided to split the Old and New Testament volumes in half, so we will spend 4 years on the books instead of 2. The set-up of this book is very similar to The Story of Civilization we use for history.
- Baltimore Catechism is used to study Catholic catechism.
- Saint books: I round out our religion curriculum with books about saints. We’ve used collections of saints as a Saint of the Day type study, and I’ve also had kids do assigned reading about a particular saint.
- SQUILT: SQUILT stands for Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time.
In the store, you can purchase packs about Orchestra Instruments and Composers, as well as a Musical Era Bundle. These make a great supplement to the live lessons offered for a well rounded music curriculum.
- Clap for Classics: I mentioned this program above under Preschool also. This online music program is so amazing for preschoolers and kindergarteners! You can choose several individual courses that you can do on their own. There is also a monthly subscription option as well. This option includes a live weekly Zoom class, and additional subjects like poetry are being added too.
- My kids attend a local homeschool art class meeting twice a month. They love it and their teacher has pulled so much talent from them!
- Artist study: We’ve used the portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason. I like the quality of the pictures included in the portfolios, and appreciate the information in the book that tells you how to perform the study with your kids. We usually do this subject as part of our Friday tea time.
- Drawing Textbooks: My kids love to draw, so I knew it’d be a great addition to our together time. The book is on the pricy side, but that is the only negative I’ve found. We try to cover a lesson, or half of one if the objects are challenging, each week.
- Art History Kids: This program joins art history with regular art lessons so well. My kids have loved it right from the beginning. The Art Studio lessons follow a monthly theme. Each week a printable PDF is available full of information about the topic or artist, ways to incorporate additional subjects, and then a weekly art project using materials you have on hand.
- Chalk Pastel Lessons: My kids have enjoyed chalk pastel lessons with Nana from You Are an Artist for years! Chalk pastel is something that is fun for preschoolers up to adults. You can find lessons that complement your history, science, and religion curriculum. Seasonal lessons will round out the school year. You’ll even find lessons for preschool and general chalk pastel and acrylic art techniques. Learn more in a review I did for the chalk pastel lessons.
- Find more ideas for adding art to your homeschool in this blog post.
Notebooking Supplements our Curriculum
I know that notebooking isn’t a curriculum, but it’s a resource that supplements curriculum so I wanted to add it here anyway.
Notebooking can be done in many ways and it fits nicely with a variety of teaching methods, especially Classical, Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies.
Your kids can start notebooking with a 25 cent spiral notebook you picked up at the Back to School sale. I like to grab a bunch of these and use them as assignment notebooks for my boys. The downside to using spiral notebooks is that the kids will have to design them from scratch.
If your kids need a little more guidance or a starting point, then the notebook pages from Productive Homeschooling might be a good fit. You can click the banner below to sign up for their FREE notebook resources.
I love that I can choose from 1000s of printable notebook pages that are ready to be filled in by my child. Some of the topics they have pages for are nature journals, state and country studies, and even the alphabet for younger students. My boys did a study of our state this year, and I printed off notebook pages of the information I wanted them to look up.
I hope these homeschool curriculum reviews have helped you decide what curriculum to use in your homeschool, or at least given you ideas for a starting point. You may have noticed that I have used many different books throughout our homeschooling years. Don’t be nervous about trying something new. You aren’t tied down to a certain curriculum forever. Do what works best for your family’s needs! Find those books that will leave an impression in your child’s mind.
Be sure to pin this post and save it for later! You’ll want to look at it each year when you do your planning to read homeschool curriculum reviews to find some new favorites.