How Do I Choose The Best Homeschool Curriculum?
When mommas ask me to share my thoughts about what’s the best homeschool curriculum, I tend to answer with a question.
How does your child learn, how is she wired and what is he most interested in?
Many moms haven’t yet identified this essential understanding about their children before jumping into spending big bucks on curriculum. And that often bites us all in the butt. (This includes me… Many times. In the past decade. Took me way too long to learn. Ugh.)
Anyhoo… Because of this, before I ever discuss specifics about curriculum, I walk my moms through a series of questions. Utimately, the goal is to help tease out their child’s learning style, interests and wiring. This will save everyone a lot of heartache and stress. And it doesn’t hurt that it’ll save cash too.
Best Homeschool Curriculum - Learning Differences
What’s the Best Curriculum? The Most Important Info First
I ask questions designed to identify learning strengths and weaknesses. For example,
- What subjects does your tend to do well in and which does he or she struggle in?
- Are there any subjects that your child particularly enjoys?
- Which concepts cause tears on a regular basis?
This helps us dive deeper to establish the root cause behind why a child struggles in a subject. With this understanding, we then have a starting point.
By doing this pre-work, moms are armed with essential information to choose the best homeschool curriculum for their child. This’ll serve kids academically and emotionally. In the end, this will bless the entire homeschool dynamic.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.
Homeschool is NOT School At Home
Because we are all uniquely-designed, it makes sense that many children think and process the world differently. Often, moms choose to homeschool their kids when they realize that their children are not served well in the traditional system.
Ultimately, the reality is that a school system is just that. It is a system meant to serve the masses and not the individual. However, this is not a criticism. By virtue of being a system, institutionalized educational frameworks cannot serve each individual child.
This, my Friend, is when homeschooling shines as the blessing that it is. No where else can one find the ability to meet the individual educational and emotional needs of the whole child.
Homeschooling is a Gift for Unique Thinkers
Homeschooling allows parents to provide outside-the-box thinkers the opportunities to succeed as students. Whether a child has ADHD, dyslexia, a processing disorder or other learning difference, every child can thrive as a learner.
Working with the grain of our kids’ wiring and interests is key. Doing so improves learning, self-worth, and creates a more joyful and peaceful educational experience. For tips to optimize your child’s ADHD brain for the best learning, listen to this episode of the podcast.
So What Is The Best Homeschool Curriculum For Unique Thinkers?
Sadly, I cannot tell you what the best homeschool curriculum is for your child. However, I can offer you some great resources to check out once you have a baseline understanding of how your child is wired.
For this post, I asked homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students community to share their insights. They gave us their “best homeschool curriculum” choices.
Please note that these moms are homeschooling kids with a variety of learning differences and styles.
Today we will focus on the preferred Language Arts homeschool curricula of these seasoned homeschool moms. Next week, we will hear all about their favorite math resources!
Best Homeschool Curriculum- Language Arts
Melissa Cochran, M.Ed., is a former principal, reading specialist, and kindergarten teacher. She homeschools 2 teens with ASD, ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, SPD, and PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder).
She describes her homeschool as “it’s like alphabet soup around here!” With so many nuances to how her kids learn, Master Books has been a hit in her home!
Master Books curriculum is open-and-go. The curriculum is written to the student and is easy for new homeschoolers to jump into without feeling overwhelmed. Bonus! They have materials for Social Studies and Science, too.
Heather Purvis also enjoys Master Books with her son.
My favorite is Master Books. It is Christ centered with a Charlotte Mason approach. I have had luck with the phonics and reading for my struggling reader. It is not strenuous which makes it approachable for my son.
Master Books isn’t heavy on pencil paper work, but more living education. Their phonics and reading is focused more on letters, sounds and recognition. Not a ton of sight words.
It’s a laid back approach with very simple reading by student with more reading to them by the parent.
Another Vote for Masterbooks As A Best Homeschool Curriculum
Janelle, homeschool mom of 3, ADHD-infused homeschool life
My dyslexic son is doing well with All About Reading at a slower pace. We are able to go at his pace.
Colleen has homeschooled four children, each with different learning styles. Speaking about All About Reading, she continues,
Physically moving the letter tiles, my son can now see that the ending or beginning sounds stay the same. He was thrilled when he was able to read a story from the reader. I think that boosted his confidence that he will be able to conquer this struggle.
Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD
More Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Reading Curriculum Choices
The Orton-Gillingham method is systematically designed to support children with dyslexia and other reading learning disabilities. Here are just a few more recommendations that you may want to consider when teaching your struggling reader.
Beckye Barnes offered these suggestions.
She recommends several programs for struggling readers. Each of these employ the Orton-Gillingham method and start at the foundations of phonemic awareness. If you have a struggling reader, she recommends checking out any of the following programs:
Here are some other homeschool reading curriculum choices that Crystal and Kara have found helpful in their homeschools. Both ladies have children who learn differently, from autism, adhd to language processing speed.
Misc. Homeschool Language Arts
4. Collections Close Reader
I like Collections Close Reader for 6-7 Language Arts. My girl hates reading, listening, writing, etc. and this has collections of short stories. There are short questions and vocabulary sprinkled throughout the stories. It can be done in small chunks even if a student can’t finish a whole short story.
Crystal, homeschool mom of 2, Autism
5. Rod and Staff Grammar
Kara, a homeschool mom of two adopted sons with multiple learning challenges, offers her favorite grammar curriculum.
For grammar we love Rod and Staff for Grammar. I like that it’s traditional and gives clear examples.
I love that they include sentence diagramming and start it early. It really forces kids to learn the parts of speech and how to use them. This is something I wish I had learned earlier as a kid. I really only learned them through taking Latin.
She continues by emphasizing the bite-sized approach that is often helpful for kids with executive functioning issues.
I also like that they give short exercises that are to the point, not just busywork. I also like the teacher’s manual- it gives easy to understand examples and uses concrete things within my kids’ realms of experience.
Kara, homeschool mom of 2 adopted sons, ADHD, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Issues
6. Classical Academic Press- Writing & Rhetoric
Kara continues about her favorite writing curriculum for her boys.
We love Classical Academic Press’ Writing and Rhetoric. It seems more comprehensive and we can go at our own pace, which right now is important. If we cannot finish an entire one in a day, we can break lessons into two smaller ones. It’s concrete, but also allows my kids to think about things in depth, but in smaller chunks they can process.
Kara points out that her son will often write long, involved “paragraphs” with tons of words, but without any cohesive meaning.
Writing and Rhetoric is forcing him to use the concept and main ideas of the stories to create his own. It gives him a good example of appropriate length and level of detail. Being able to cut lessons down and spread them out keeps them focused while working in-depth, with good quality.
Two of My Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum Choices
7. Christian Light Homeschool Language Arts
Christian Light Language Arts is a program that tends to lie low in it’s advertising, but it packs a mighty punch. I was introduced to CL several years ago after teaching my children how to read. This was a godsend for a number of reasons.
This homeschool curriculum is:
- Student-driven: It’s written for the student to work through on their own. There are small check boxes throughout each lesson to guide the student. Who doesn’t love to mark off checkboxes? (Wait? Is that just me?)
- Small Chunks of Teaching: Each grade level is broken into 10 smaller workbooks which allow kids to have small attainable goals throughout the year. Kids love to “finish” each workbook. This helps with motivation.
- Complete: Once your child is reading, this program can stand alone for several years. Includes grammar (with simple sentence diagramming beginning in second grade), spelling, vocabulary, and penmanship.
Note that I absolutely love teaching English grammar. Christian Light does an EXCELLENT and thorough job of teaching English grammar in a way that is not overwhelming.
What Is the Best Homeschool Curriculum?
If the ultimate goal is long-term learning, it only makes sense to use materials that will support each child (and family) best. Like all things, however, no homeschool curricula is perfect. A resource may be an excellent fit for one season, but not another. This is to be expected as kids grow.
When it isn’t working, feel the freedom to pivot in order to best educate your unique child. While you are planning, grab a copy of the Homeschool 101 Planning Guide below. I’ve included some of the questions I ask homeschool coaching clients to create targeted plans for their unique children.
What would be on your best homeschool curriculum list?